Adventures in Wonderland

.......not just a travel blog

My Photo
Location: Canada

In our sixties, with apparently no other authentic option, my husband Don and I sold our car and apartment, sold or gave away all our stuff, and set off to discover the world. And ourselves. We started in Italy in 2011 and from there have travelled to Spain, India, Bali, etc. - you can see the blog archive. We will continue travelling until it's time to stop - if that time ever comes. So far it suits us very well. We are interested in how the world works, how life works, how the creation of experience works, how the mind works. As we travel and both "choose" our course, and at the same time just let it unfold, we discover the "mechanics" of life, the astounding creativity of life, and a continual need to return to trust and presence. Opening the heart, and acceptance of what is, as it is, are keystones for us both.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Cinque Terre

For those of you who have been to Cinque Terre - a trip down memory lane.
For those of you who haven't - a little armchair travelling to one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Five tiny villages clinging to the steep coast of north western Italy, the Italian Riviera, and in late September/early October the weather is glorious, about 27-30 during the day and warm over night. All of the five villages and surrounding area form the Cinque Terre National Park and it's a UNESCO World Heritage site, and very few cars are allowed in any of the towns.

We stayed in Monterosso, the most northern of the towns, in an ordinary hotel, with an adequate room, up 3 flights of stairs. Nevertheless this is the view from the breakfast terrace.

On our second day here our friend Ruth joined us from the Netherlands. Don and Ruth swam just about every day. Sometimes I watched them, sometimes I napped or wrote instead. We walked a lot. There are trails winding around the coast connecting the towns. We hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza (about 2 hours), explored the town, had lunch, and then caught the ferry back, a short ride over calm sparkling blue seas (see the above picture). And that night had a fabulous dinner of seafood risotto with mussels and langoustines, and local wine, and tiramisu and profiteroles to die for.


A two hour hike up and down, and amongst the olive trees and grape vines brought us to the next village, Vernazza

The next day we got the ferry all the way south to Riomaggiore, the most southern of the towns. And possibly the most charming, though all of them are wonderful. There’s such a sense of authenticity about them. These villages have been here for centuries and have grown in a completely organic way as people carved their homes from the rocks and a living from the sea. And now also from tourism. Cinque Terre is full with tourists from all over the world, including us! The thing about going to places where there's lots of tourists is that there's usually a reason for it. And Cinque Terre is no exception. If you want to see the best places at the best time of the year it's safe to expect that many others do too. The place feels crowded and alive and prosperous.

After exploring Riomaggiore we walked to Manarola, an easy 20 minute stroll along a flat walkway.


We stopped to explore Manarola and had lunch there before setting off on a 3 hour hike to Corniglia. I had tomatoes on bruschetta and it was wonderful, though I must say the bread served at most of the places we've eaten has been uninspiring. I'm not much of a foodie, but apart from the bread just about every meal has been fabulous. One night I had squid ink (black) tagliatelle with langoustines and thought I’d died and gone to heaven. And at least one gelato every day, but usually 2. An American woman I met on the Sestre Levanti railway station said “I feel as if I’m stuck in the eat part of Eat Pray Love”. It's certainly easy here to get some really delicious meals, and we try lots of different places.

Anyway, back to Manarola.

The path from Manarola to Corniglia is closed due to a land slide, so we chose to take the alternate route – a 3 hour hike up into the vine terraces and olive groves above the towns, and then back down into Corniglia. And now finally we were away from the crowds. There were other hikers, though not many, and we got to enjoy the beauty and silence of the area. It was hot and exhausting, but so worth it.

Cinque Terre is magical. I find it had to believe such a place exists. It's so beautiful, and I continue to be awed and fascinated and inspired with the seemingly infinite variety of ways in which people live.

Now we have seen all five towns and hiked the trails between them all except the stretch from Vernazza to Corniglia, so for our last day in this part of Italy we decided to go to Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, two of the main Italian Riviera towns, and just a little north of Cinque Terre. We took a 45 min train ride to Santa Margherita and then walked the coast road to Portofino, apparently one of the haunts of the rich and famous. Like us :)

Santa Margherita Ligure

On the walk to Portofino


Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Unknown said...

Beautiful!! Thank you for sharing your experiences here. I can feel the heat and want to jump into this beautiful water after one of these hikes. Inspires me to make travel plans :) Lots of love to you Alison and Don and a belated Happy Birthday to Don. oxo Surati

October 12, 2011 at 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Liz Nathan said...

Lovely photos, Alison! I spent a few weeks last year in Tuscany, but based in the Marina di Pisa. All the best with your travels.

October 13, 2011 at 12:02 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

I'm using google's satellite maps alongside reading your blog, so I'm enjoying this rich travelogue. That's a great pic of you guys; you look so very happy. Hippo birdie, Don!

October 13, 2011 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger kate b said...

I'm so glad I asked to be included in your travelogue mail-out.
tonight I had the time to drink it all in....glorious...thank you so much, kate brunton (we met at Moni's satsang)

October 16, 2011 at 7:05 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

G'day Alison and Don
They talk about 'sea changes' and 'grey nomads' but you folk are way beyond that! Just terrific, great writing and wonderful photos. I'd love to turn some of those photos into paintings - if you'd let me - but being busy as usual I may never get to it. I'm looking forward to more from you. Cheers...

October 19, 2011 at 3:39 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Hey Jim, glad you're enjoying the blog, and yes of course you have my permission to turn any of the photos into paintings. Hope you get time to do it.

October 19, 2011 at 8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, I was wondering why I am an "unknown" commenter but I suppose it is due to the fact that I did not sign in initially. Let us see if name appears now.

October 20, 2011 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Hi Surati, and Kate, and Kate, and Liz, and Emmana - glad you're enjoying the blog. And Emmana, glad you're not unknown anymore!


October 22, 2011 at 5:40 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Hi Alison
The ABC News website is reporting deadly floods in the Cinque Terre area. There's a photo of the remnants of a mudslide filling the street and a cafe in Monterosso. I imagine that you walked along this same street only a few days ago. I hope that you are both well clear of this area by now.

October 26, 2011 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

We just heard about this today. Just heartbroken for the devastation to this beautiful town, and the people. Yes we are well clear of it. We are in Positano, way south of there.

October 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM  
Anonymous edie said...

Such a beautiful window into the colourful days of your lives, Alison and Don ! Thanks so much for sharing.

October 30, 2011 at 4:48 PM  
Anonymous edie said...

We walked those streets and paths last year. I have seen new photos of the flooded areas and it seems recovery is underway alrady! I have great faith in these people and think that we will see new beauty rise from the devastating muck and rubble sooner than anticipated. Ciao. ~ edie

October 30, 2011 at 4:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home