We rented a car at one of the airports in Rome and DROVE to the ‘rugged” portion of coast along the Italian Riviera.. our plan was to stop in Pisa and take a quick picture of the Leaning Tower on our way up there… which there was one exit-we missed it and noticed the sun would be going down sooner than we had expected so trudged along and made our way into the mountains on the west coast of Italy and then back down them again to reach the coast in which our rental sat awaiting us on top of a restaurant located between the two cities Levanto and Bonassola neither are a part of the ’5′ which is the ‘Cinque’ in the name of this now well known area… but it is only a mile+ walk for us into the town of Levanto in which we hopped onto a train that took us back to the beginning of the five villages. (visitors are not allowed to drive within the villages without special permission-which was preferred for us as how narrow and steep a majority of the roads were) Views from & of our little place below.
Below the villages are in ‘order’ geographically-not the order we visited them in. Enjoy.
Is considered the first of the five villages located right on the water and the city we were recommended to go to first… we spent almost 2 hours walking around the village… up to a church and then up a few hundred more steps to an old castle which the view was gorgeous (i wish there was another word for it than that) and from there we headed to the train station for our 2 min ride as the walking trail is currently closed (you can pay to have access to the National Park trails that are meant to connect all the villages-yet most of them are currently closed due to their geographic state) we spent almost 2 hours waiting for a train that eventually took us our 2 min by train journey after switching tracks… it was humorous to say the least.
We made our way to find lunch upon arrival in this quaint little village which is the second in line and the second smallest of the five… eating on the cliff with a view of the ocean was more than words could express! The pasta was made there locally, along with the olive oil, their balsamic vinegar and sea salt…It has been our favorite restaurant we have eaten at this whole trip by far!!! This little village being our favorite also due to the magical lemon, lime, orange and olive trees around you on the paths as you walked… grapes hanging in arms reach as the vineyards engulfed us with the smell of the ocean constantly filling our lungs… it was more than either of us had imagined from such a ‘small’ place.
This village is technically a ‘fraction’ of the next village Vernazza and then only one of the five that is not directly on the water. It is 100 meters above the water and is accessed via 382 steep stairs or a vehicle road that winds up the mountain…which one can walk up and we were ready to do-but got extremely lucky that the ‘very rare’ (as locals told us) bus which will go up to the center was waiting for us! Once at the top before we began our hike to the next village we sat and enjoyed a nice hot cappuccino at a cafe that looked right out towards the ocean… we just couldn’t get enough of all the gorgeous views. We both mentioned throughout the rest of the day as we were hiking how fortunate and thankful we were to not have to start the ‘hike’ by climbing up all the stairs we had originally mentally prepared for. The trail we took was one of the only ones along the coastal path that was open for this time of year (most of the other trails were 7-12 hour treks and we did not bring the proper attire for those kind of trips) and was not very far in ‘distance’ however it wasn’t just a stroll in the park… with slippery rocks, paths that fit one person at a time (even if others approaching you didn’t care to notice they were on the edge of a massive cliff) To say the least we LOVED all of it-laughed, took our time… let others pass us just to pass them later on… stopped to try and catch pictures or just observe the cities we had seen the day before at a distance. IT was great. We ended in Vernazza.
Which was busier than we had thought and had many many restaurants to choose from to eat at! The other places didn’t have too many choices so we were starving and overwhelmed! Choosing where to eat is always a thorough process for us to make sure we look into the ones recommended by locals but also can have what we are in the mood for. I had been wanting and waiting patiently to find somewhere that served Minestrone soup! We found it here in Vernazza in which the made it with PESTO and it was PHENOMENAL!!! I wish I had the recipe to attempt to make it again myself…And Cordie had a lasagna with a very rich cheese and pesto as well. We were content and once again ready for our quiet place of solitude back on the water.
After freezing (and sweating) all morning through the mountains it was a surprise to come back to our place and feel the warm sun beating down on the roof or one could say our ‘terrace’ or porch just outside the kitchen door of the house…It made our time in Cinque Terre even better to be able to take a rest laying out under the sun listening to the waves crash against the shore and discuss how amazing it would be to live in a place where all you can hear is the nature that surrounds you.
After our lovely time in the first two villages we arrived here the last of the five and the one that is usually fuller with tourists during the summer months as it is the only one that has sand next to the water for people to enter the water easily. It being a long day we wondered up most of the village, stopped for some Gelato and then slowly made our way back towards the train as once we arrived in Levanto we still had another 1+ mile walk home and were desperate to get back to our little quiet abode overlooking the water.
I hope some day you are able to escape to this once unknown paradise…