Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Five Towns (Woodmere Not Included)

Despite the overcast clouds, dooming us to a day of rain, we boldly venturedas plannedto Cinque Terre. For the uninitiated, Cinque Terre is a collection of five coastal towns in the southern portion of Liguria that play host to a seaside national park, resplendent with fauna, flora, and probably some animals I wouldn’t want to run into alone in the dark. A main walking path connects the five towns to each other (which are also linked by rail); more strenuous hikes can be found yonder in the storied hills. Cinque Terre is known for its stunning views and unique soil terraces, which provide the perfect setting for lemon trees and grapes waiting to be turned into celebrated wines and other organic/biodynamic products by the cooperative-supporting farmers. Each of the five towns host tasty foccacerie and gelaterie as well as B&Bs and at least a church or two. It's best visited during the warm spring and summer months, which is exactly why we wanted to make sure to get there during the low season, before the hordes of backpackers hog too much of the path. 

Unfortunately, when we arrived at Monterosso, the northernmost town, we learned that the rain (falling ever more heavily as our train inched forward on the tracks) was responsible for closing most of the main drag (known as Lover's Lane, leading it to be covered by young lovers with locks and keys in the style of the overhead gates). So, we hopped on the next locomotive in order to reach the southernmost town, Riomaggiore, and walk as far as we would be allowed—the next town over, Manarola.

Living in Liguria we are regularly spoiled by an array of stunning, mountain-studded sea vistas, so perhaps at first glance Martello and I were not quite as awed as our guests. Nevertheless, Arenzano is not quite as dramatically situated on a precipice. Here’s a sampling of what we saw during this first hike: 

We soon stopped for lunch and to dry off. Trofie Wife surprised herself by ordering, along with le piccolo messicano, an anchovy sandwich, lightly seasoned with oregano and butter. I figured that if I was going to give anchovies one last try, the organic heart of their homeland would be the place in which to do it. Boy was I surprised that I actually enjoyed them! The sandwich was luscious!

Post-mangare, Martello’s feline-like curiosity led us into every nook and cranny of Manarola. We finally wrapped up the day in Vernazza, the most tourist-trappy of the five towns. In addition to tasting some lovely lemon sorbetto (refreshing, despite our sogginess), we took a visit to the scenic tower, up a massive flight of steps (Trofie Wife declined to climb the actual tower, preferring to digest her gelato). I raggazi enjoyed the additional views. Here are some shots:

On our way home, we had to transfer at Sestri Levante, another coastal town Martello and I had yet to explore. Fighting exhaustion, we spent the 45-minute layover walking along the shore and through the centro; it's definitely worth returning to when the sun is shining. 

Baci e gelato,

Martello e Trofie Wife

1 comment:

eldrhammer said...

A 'luscious' sandwich huh?...must've left you with some prety lucious breath when you were through with it...