Exploring Cinque Terre
When we went to bed the night before, a fierce storm was on its way, with crazy gusts of wind and rain. Although the rain had started just after dinner, it hit full force sometime in the middle of the night, with a howling wind that I hadn’t heard the likes of since Hurricane Ike, back in Texas. The next morning though (Friday, October 11th), was an absolutely gorgeous day to be on the Italian coastline.
Our plan for the day was to explore Manarola a bit, and then take the local train over to one or two of the other villages. We really had no particular order in mind. The best way to travel between the villages of Cinque Terre is definitely the local train system, although there are hiking paths in between each of the towns, if you’re feeling adventurous. There are coastal paths which are generally easy and fairly level, and then there are various inland paths with hundreds of steps, where you’ll find serious hikers from all over the world. When we were there, the area was recovering from a series of devastating land slides a few years prior, and so the coastal paths between Manarola and its neighboring villages on either side were shut down. Seeing as neither Glenn nor I are what you would call serious hikers, we decided that we’d try to figure out the train system.
As far as we could tell, the trains do have a schedule, but rarely do they follow it. We learned early on that patience is the name of the game when you’re traveling by train in Cinque Terre. Since we had no particular schedule of our own to stick to, we really weren’t too bothered by this.
We made our way to the Manarola train station and did our best to find out what time to expect the next train, and which side of the tracks to wait on. The direction that you intend to travel dictates this, i.e., eastbound trains on one side of the platform, and westbound trains on the other. You would think that this would be easy enough to figure out, but there were times when we weren’t sure until the train arrived if we were standing on the correct side of the platform. In this case we were on the westbound side, and so we boarded, deciding to visit Corniglia, one village to the west.
We had no idea of this ahead of time, but the train platform at Corniglia is actually pretty far below the village, and so we had the choice of either waiting for a bus or hiking up the footpath to the village. We also had no idea a) when the next bus would arrive, or b) how long of a hike it was. Being in an adventurous mindset, we decided to walk, and honestly it wasn’t a bad walk at all, although the day was beginning to become hot and there were quite a lot of stairs.
We were able to find parts of the coastal path that were still open, from where we had some really nice vantage points, looking out over the Ligurian Sea, and over to the other various villages. We could look back to the east and see Manarola, the village we had started out in :
After spending about an hour or so in Corniglia, we rolled up our sleeves and started the hike back down to the train station. If you look towards the bottom of the photo below you can see some fellow hikers, and just make out a portion of the stairs.
I don’t recall if it was accidental or not (it probably was), but somehow our next destination was east – back toward Manarola. We stayed on the train when it stopped at Manarola, and got off at the easternmost village, Riomaggiore.
Someone really would have liked Glenn to share, but there was no way he was going to give up even a single bite of that pesto…
By late afternoon we’d made our way back to Manarola with no difficulty, and enjoyed some wine on the patio of our hotel. We were treated to a beautiful sunset over the Ligurian Sea. We’d had a great time so far in Cinque Terre, and sadly, tomorrow would be our last day.