Friday, July 15, 2011

Three days in Cinque Terre

The mountains, coast, or an Italian city? How to spend three unscheduled days in Italy? We could make a day trip to Florence, but it could be mobbed with tourists. Finding accommodations in the mountains during school holidays is nearly impossible,and if the days were overcast we might not even see them. So the coast, Cinque Terre, won out. It was a perfect choice - all the relaxation of a resort without a resort's fishbowl atmosphere.

On the train from Turin we had reserved seats in a 6-person compartment. One woman talked endlessly. Two other women made an occasional response; another woman left to read in the corridor. Doug and I suffered in silence. To avoid a recurrence we tried to book a first class seat for the trip back. No luck. This time the car was quiet. The downside? The ac didn't work!

Cinque Terre is along the Mediterranean coast; it consists of 5 villages linked by footpaths, trains, and ferries. Auto access is limited. We took a few hikes and boarded a train when our feet (and the rest of our body) demanded relief. We stayed at My One Hotel in La Spezia. My major criteria (beyond safety and cleanliness) is breakfast. Great breakfast - pastries, meat, cheese, eggs, fruit, and cereal.

We tried to remember the last time we did more than a long walk - it has been years and it showed. Going slow was the rule of the day. Once we arrived in a village, we would wander, eat, and take a train for further exploring. We would have pasta for lunch and I quickly took to spaghetti with mussels - something I never imagined liking. Here I am sporting my new hat - 100% paper.

Dinner was back at La Spezia. One night Doug had pancetta, which I frankly thought looked revolting. Another night I ordered roast chicken - good, enormous and 12 euros. More meat than we eat in a week if not a month.

Our last hike was on the Via dell'amore. It is covered with padlocks.
By googling I learned that couples leave padlocks with their names to confirm that their hearts are locked together.

And finally here is a photo of the beach. It reminded us of so many movie scenes, as did the whole area. All in all this is a side trip that we highly recommend.

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