Now that we are home and I can look back on the trip, Cinque Terre was probably the highlight. We showed took the train from Florence, a quick stop over in Piza for a leaning batido, and continued on to Monterosso. As we were getting close the train would pop out of a tunnel for a split second and give us a glimpse of the Med, with a bright sunny sky and the turquoise sea, and then disappear again. Even when got to the little village we were stunned by the view. Gorgeous beach, sail boats and pastel Italian buildings.
We didn’t waste much time there, though we probably should have, but we set out to find the trail. The guidebook told us of two trails, Trail 1, which was easy; and Trail 2, which more scenic but much harder. We wanted trail 1. We didn’t find it. But we had a beautiful hike. A beautifully hard hike with a full pack. We basically scaled up and down the coastal mountains through vineyards and lemon orchards. Occasionally we would be blessed with a fairly level stretch, but that was pretty rare. The number of stairs was out of control. But as we wound around the mountains that jutted into the sea we could see the little village we were headed to, and turn and look back to the shrinking town we left.
Aside from the view, the best part of the trip was the magical hole in a fence on a very steep stair climb about half way between the two villages. It was magical because for the bargain price of 2 euro, you could get fresh lemonade from fresh lemons. It was squeezed on the spot by what appeared to be a football hooligan. The only problem was the group of Italians in front of me (and eventually a nice British couple, who queued up behind me). I had the girls climb up a bit so they could sit and wait while I stood in line. Unfortunately there was a very chatty guy and his 5 or 6 best friends (many of whom were shirtless, yet appeared to be wearing a sweater). I didn’t mind waiting for them all to get their drinks, but as their friends showed up, they too got in on the action, then the first few wanted refills. It was a little frustrating, especially when one of the younger fellas was pointing out that there were people waiting for some precious lemon flavored sugar water. Eventually I did score the drinks and brought them back up to the girls. Where, it turns out, we were a bit too winded to really enjoy them.
According to Kelly, the hike lasted about an hour and a half. Clearly all the climbing went to her head, it was easily five times that.
When we did get to Vernazza we were able to find a little pizzeria with an unobstructed view of the sunset and some of the best pesto ever made. It was over this pesto that we discussed the merits of taking the train to the next town—which contained our hotel for the night.
Corniglia was not as much fun as Vernazza, that was mostly due to two little reasons: 1) It was not down on the sea, but up on a cliff overlooking it and 2) There were 368 stairs between the town and the train station.
We eventually found our hotel there. We did this by going to a resturant with the same name, asking the waitress who instructed us to follow her, hike back into the center of town and back into one of the stacked buildings there.
The next morning we discussed continuing the hike, but wussed out and took the train. We were sore. Oh, and the strep I gave Kelly was really kicking in at that point.