September 18, 2015
Cinque Terre: five beautifully lined villages across the coastline of Italy. (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso)
Abril, Stefanie, Amanda, Rebecca, and I had a lady’s trip out to this beautiful location this Friday-Saturday. We arrived in La Spezia (the main town right before the first village) at around 9am to take advantage of the sun-kissed terrain the weather app forecasted. The vast ocean swallowed our hearts once we stepped off the train at the first village, Riomaggiore.
Riomaggiore is a small town with a single street going uphill. Gelaterias, calamari cones, souvenir stores, and cute cafes were all topped with dainty colorful apartments with clothes lined out to dry. We walked around through skinny stairs to find the best view of Riomaggiore from within the vineyards on a hill. The houses were the typical google images you would find when you search “Italy”.
We ate lunch at Enoteca con Cucina-Dale Cila right across from the ocean and had their well-renounced Cinque Terre pesto. Pesto is my absolute FAVORITE, so this really hit the spot. Mmmmm.. the creamy consistency with the rich pesto/garlic flavor was so worth it. It was a bit pricy with 12 euros per plate, but we justified it with the view (This was our only expensive meal anyways)
Though I love Cinque Terre and it’s indescribable and incomparable to any other location in the world, my first impression and my “forever impression” of Cinque Terre is the same: It’s touristy. I would say it is tourist central and if Cinque Terre is your definition of visiting Italy, you will not get the “true” Italian experience. You can get by without knowing any Italian and make friends with many retired couples also trying to get a glimpse of Cinque Terre’s beautiful architecture. It’s definitely not a location you would love to head to if you’re claustrophobic.
Albeit the congestion, everybody in Cinque Terre was cooperative and friendly. Kindly answered questions, friendly vendors giving my friends discounts, and smiling servers. All it takes is a smile! The trenitalia system for Cinque Terre was awful and extremely delayed/slow, but all the cordial fellow travellers made it worthwhile.. (Actually, I lie. The trains still sucked) Every train came once every hour + all tourists had to squeeze into them so we were like sardines.We accidentally rode the express train to Monterosso, the fifth village.
We were planning to reach Monterosso last, but we figured we could swim today and not have to ride the train wet on our way back home. The Mediterranean was beautiful and clear, but salty! The ocean swallowed me immediately when I reached Amanda and Rebecca at the deep end. The rocky pebbles hurt our feet and it was definitely not the prime beach spot, but it was definitely a funny experience getting washed to the shore! (HAHA)
It’s a shock that we would have to pay for seats on the beach. It cost 6 euros per person. SO, we decided to squeeze into a free beach area at a not-so-smart location. All our backpacks were attacked by a strong wave that ended up soaking everything. Ever since my Italian phone broke from me dropping it into a puddle, I’ve been bummed so this was good luck that finally fell upon me!!! (just kidding) Everything else was soaked though. Backpacks, earphones, cell phones, shoes, jackets, wallets. lol. We headed back to Riomaggiore thinking the bus to shuttle back would be there, but it wasn’t so instead, we snacked on some seafood fritters. Calamari is seriously the best.
The rest of our damp day was spent in Manarola, the highly recommended of the five villages. (The second one) Each train literally took FOREVER. (But we talked forever so it was sort of okay). Once we got off to Manarola we found out that it was a quaint little village as well. We ate at Trattoria Il Porticciolo (Trattoria: a family restaurant) We were in a crunch for time and the waiter (Giovanni) literally served us in 20 minutes. He gave us his contact information for future reference and tips on Cinque Terre next time we visit! I ordered a bruschetta with anchovies and tomatoes (so fresh).
We watched the sunset briefly (sunsets are always worth the time) and caught our last train to Riomaggiore on time. The hostel had shuttles going back and forth from Riomaggiore so we squeezed into spots last minute to make it back. On the shuttle back, an Australian girl who has been travelling for 5-7 months alone over the world shared her stories. AMAZING!
Hostels have such an inviting atmosphere! An old lady from South Africa was already sleeping in our room by the time I arrived and since I was exhausted, I knocked out with her soon after instead of joining the bar upstairs. (oops)
All in all, Cinque Terre is breathtaking.