Ah Cinque Terre… (pronounced tʃinkwe ˈtɛrːe in Italian) but whatever, this beautiful rugged coast was the saving grace of our almost disastrous Milan Trip.
The picturesque Cinque Terre consist of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Originally we wanted to stay for a few days but was told by friends that a day tour would suffice. I wished we stayed at least overnight though, I would have loved to explore all the villages on foot. We only managed to explore Monterosso Al Mare and Vernazza due to our limited time.
Emma and I we’re up early to meet our guide in Milan. We were running on one hour sleep and badly needed some fuel to kick start the day and for the long drive ahead so Italian coffee had to be in place. You know what they say, when in Rome… I mean Milan.
Our first stop was the delightful village of Portovenere located on the Ligurian Coast in the province of La Spezia. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes Cinque Terre.
After our short stop at Portovenere, we boarded a boat to reach the coastal villages, wedged into rugged cliffs by the Mediterranean sea. Here we met and befriended a lovely young woman who’s aptly named, Barbie. She was also doing the same tour and was traveling alone and clicked with us straight away. Unfortunately our tour did not include exploring Riomaggiore village so we could only admire it from afar. How very sad.
I don’t remember our boat stopping at other villages, but we were finally allowed to dock at Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the Cinque Terre’s ‘five lands’.
We were given a few hours to explore the village but not before having lunch with the whole group. Our guide took us to this restaurant where I had the most amazing seafood dish, very rustic and fresh, just how I like it.
After exploring Monterosso, we were instructed to meet our guide and the rest of the group to board a train to Vernazza, another of the Cinque Terre’s beautiful villages.
Vernazza was struck by massive flooding and mudslide in 2011 that left the town buried in over 4 metres of mud and debris. The damaged caused a lot of money (over 100 million euro) but luckily for us, it was restored a few months later with a lot of hard work and help from people from all over the world.
With it’s colourful, painted homes clinging to impossible cliffs, flanking a quaint harbour, Vernazza was worth preserving. It’s by far my favourite. Oh and did i mention that they have the best gelateria (ice-cream parlor) in the world? I know it’s a sweeping declaration but if you know me, a self-proclaimed Ice cream monster, I can say with all honesty, that the gelato I had in Vernazza, was to die for.
So after an hour or so exploring the lined cobbled street of Vernazza and taking lots and lots of shameless pictures in the scorching heat, it was time for us to rejoin our group for another scenic train ride to the town of La Spezia. Back on our coach to head back to Milan, ending our day trip.
In the famous words of Douglas MacArthur, “I came through and I shall return”. I vow to return to Cinque Terre one day and explore the rest of the villages… and for another cup of gelato too.