WARNING: These posts will probably be super long, because I am totally obsessed and in love with Cinque Terre. Proceed at your own risk!
Day 1 – Monterosso & Vernazza
On our first full day in Cinque Terre, I (Alesha) woke up before Brandon and rushed out to open the blinds to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and that we were, in fact, finally in Cinque Terre. The view from our place was spectacular, looking out over the sea and part of the town of Monterosso.
After spending a good chunk of time looking out the window with my mouth hanging open, it was time to get the coffee going. Gianni’s place had a traditional Italian coffee pot, which I had never used before. After watching a few YouTube videos, and reading some tutorials, I finally figured it out. The coffee that these pots make is somewhere between regular coffee and espresso, and packs quite the punch. Brandon woke up and we sipped our coffee on the small deck of the apartment looking out at the view.
After we got ready, we headed down to the train station in Monterosso to pick up our Cinque Terre 2-day trail and train pass. This pass allowed for unlimited train travel and hiking (on open trails) through the five villages, and also the neighboring towns of La Spezia and Levanto. We planned to take the blue trail, which was indicated to be the easiest of all the hiking trails in the area, and the most direct between the villages. We hadn’t done really any research on this trail, and had heard that it was “paved” between the five villages, so I kind of figured it would be somewhat of a leisurely walk to get between them. I’ll point out that based on this assumption I wore a cute outfit, including a skirt, long sleeved shirt, and a scarf.
As we started off on the trail, there was immediately a detour because of construction, which routed us up behind town hall and literally straight up the side of this “hill” (which felt more like a mountain) via about 500+ vertical stairs. At this point we were both thinking, damn this detour sucks, I can’t wait to get to the blue trail! Spoiler alert: the entire blue trail was like this. We hadn’t brought enough water, we obviously weren’t dressed appropriately for the beast of the hike that this was, and there was SO. MUCH. SWEAT. Looking back at the information on this trail later on, we found out that it was about 2.5 miles with an 800 foot elevation gain all in the first half a mile or so. This also explains why, when we ran across a group of other young hikers who were decked out in appropriate gear, one of them proceeded to sing to me while shimmy-ing “Ooh, she got her scaaaarf on, she doin’ the hiiiiiiike.” I can only imagine how silly we looked!
Just when I thought I was going to die, and decided to shed some layers, we finally started our descent down into the next village: Vernazza. Guys, I’m not exaggerating when I say this, I literally teared up as we caught our first glimpse of the village. It was like a postcard! This particular view had special sentiment for me, because I’d found a screensaver of this exact view and had it on my work computer for literally like two years. To be standing there, looking at it, was really overwhelming and surreal.
We decided we’d definitely earned some gelato, and stopped off to get some first thing after getting into the town. Mine was made with local lemons (the Cinque Terre region is known for them), and Brandon grabbed a stracciatella, which was kind of like a chocolate chip flavor. I swear, gelato never tasted so good. After we’d downed the gelato, we found a spot down by the marina to eat the picnic lunch we’d packed while we people watched. While we were sitting there we saw “that” girl…you know the one, who poses like 900 times for photos in the cheesiest poses possible, taking the cliche photos, and being super tourist-y. We both agreed that it’s much more fun to blend in as a tourist.
After we’d finished our food, we walked up and down the main street and grabbed some fried calamari in a cone with a lemon wedge that was pretty good. We decided to look for a bar that a friend had recommended, which ended up being up, and up, and up (another hike in and of itself) narrow winding paths that are basically all stairs. The bar, called La Torre, sits on a cliff looking out over Vernazza and you can see Monterosso in the distance.
While we sipped our cocktails, we debated whether or not we wanted to continue hiking into the next city, which had been our original plan. Based on how sweaty and tired we both were, and how inappropriately dressed I was, we opted to just take the train back to Monterosso and do the hike the next day when we were better prepared. We did briefly consider doing a different, shorter hike out of Monterosso, but we were both dealing with some minor heat exhaustion and a little dehydration, so we opted not to.
After resting and hydrating for awhile, we wandered into town and grabbed an inexpensive meal at a seaside restaurant and picked up some wine to have at home. We decided to pay a little more than 5 euro this time, and it paid off! Sometimes you just gotta go for it to get the good stuff.
I’ll take a break here, and post about the rest of Cinque Terre in a new post so I don’t overwhelm you all 🙂
To see all of the photos from Cinque Terre, click here.