Saturday, 21 December 2013

Attack on Cinque Terre

We did what was for us an unusual thing on this trip - a one day tour of three villages (out of the five) in Cinque Terre, on the rugged west coast of Italy.  This is the equivalent of a guerilla style attack - we went in, hit the strategic places and leave.  Incredibly, we visited the three villages in the space of six hours, including lunch.  This was done with the help of two expert drivers and their vans - we got dropped off in one town, took the train between the towns and got picked up at the last stop.  This saved the pain of driving and looking for parking in the crowded towns - an impossible task.  We had a taste of each place but by no means got the true flavour.  

Unfortunately, it seemed that boat loads of cruise ship tourists did the same thing every day. No wonder there are protests and moves to ban large cruise ships - it must have a negative impact on the towns.  We felt it even when we didn't live there.  The huge crowds turned the small streets of these once attractive coastal havens into busy thoroughfares and whatever ambiance there was had disappeared.  One of the overnight visitors in the village said the only reprieve was early morning and at night.  I suppose in the day time, going on the hiking trails could possibly be a way of avoiding the crowds.  But I would certainly think twice before visiting again, lovely as the villages were.

A bird's eye view of the first town going north from La Spezia, quaint Riomaggiore, dating from the 13th century

Zooming in you can see many of the houses with their balconies and rooftop terraces - they looked like they were stacked on top of one another on the rocks.

The waterfront was a short walk down a windy roadway, shared by pedestrians and boats

The gelataria was the most popular store along the waterfront

Taking a break on the coastal path to admire the scenery and each other...

If I have to guess the name of the trail, it would be Via dell'Amore...;-)

The long tunnel to the train station, decorated with mosaics, made for a terrific acoustic chamber for musicians

This was the train that took people back and forth between the villages 

Next stop: Manarola

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