On Tuesday, we moved on for three nights in the Cinque Terre. We took the train from Firenze directly to La Spezia where we hopped on the Cinque Terre Express, a train that runs frequently between the five towns of the Cinque Terre, to our destination of Manarola.
We soon learned that hiking distances in the Cinque Terre are relative, as everything is almost straight up or straight down from where you are. Nothing is flat. The determination of the people who originally decided they could make a life in this spot defies imagination. Especially around Manarola, the surrounding hills are covered with terraces that have all been constructed by hand to grow their grapes. Today’s residents seem to possess that same grit and determinations to do what it takes to live in this spot.
Our Airbnb was near the top of town. There was actually a tiny winery on the narrow street/alley that led to our room. To get supplies to the winery, they used a hand truck on treads powered by a gas engine.
On our first night, we hiked to the top of the hill above Manarola for some spectacular views of the town. In the process, we learned that the “trails” in the area were very often sets of steps either carved out or constructed with the native bluestone and schist rocks.
Our second day in Manarola brought rain, and from what we had learned about the trails, we realized they would be slippery and unstable in the rain, so we took the train up to Vernazza, another of the Cinque Terre villages, to take a look around. Vernazza was beautiful, but we were glad to have chosen Manarola for our home base. Vernazza had as somewhat more tourist-oriented feel.
The rain let up for our third day in the Cinque Terre, so we made the three-mile hike up to the town of Volastra. After lunch, we found, with some effort, the trail down to the town of Groppo. The trails in the area are not always well identified and frequently take off from some random point in town without a trailhead being identified.
The headquarters of the Cooperativa Agricoltura Cinque Terre is in Groppo. This cooperative is one of the major wine producers in the Cinque Terre. We had a great afternoon tasting their wines and grappa (more on that in the next post.)
Debbie and I took a bottle of their wine home and enjoyed it on the garden terrace outside our room while watching the sun set over Manarola. Life could be worse.