The Cinque Terre region of Italy is a walkers’ paradise. And to date it is the only place where Kathleen and I have both participated in a walking holiday, way back in 2005. This one was organized by HF Holidays and it was great fun. Everything went well, including the weather. The Cinque Terre lies in the southern part of Liguria, not far from Pisa in northern Tuscany. The name comes from the five towns that form the jewel in the crown of the region – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. All are beautiful and lie on on the coast, often perched precariously on the steep cliffsides. We stayed in another attractive little town, Bonassola, just to the north. If you ever get to the Cinque Terre, be sure to visit Porto Venere which lies at the southern tip of the peninsula. This is yet another charming little town, which though not part of the the Cinque Terre, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage area and impossible to miss.
Though the five towns are charming and beautiful places the real attraction of the area for most people is the mountainous interior. Not that you have to go very far inland as the mountains at times appear to drop down sheer to the coast. On this holiday you do not reach the highest peaks and never stray far from the coast, but it is steep everywhere and each walk involved an arduous climb and descent. Here are some overviews of the region, including one from the sea.
Next are three shots of the landscape. The first two are looking up the hillside, while the third shows one of the spectacular views looking down to the sea,
Then comes some photos of sights encountered on the various walks. The hillsides and towns are covered in little chapels, ruins, old farm implements and some beautiful and bright flowers.
The last of the above photos is of one of my favourite plants from the Mediterranean – Opuntia ficus-indica – Indian figs. I just love the dazzlingly bright yellow flowers. Back to the Cinque Terre and to the famous towns. First is Vernazza, which juts out into the sea, then Riomaggiore, which somehow manages to cling to the steep hillsides, ending with Porto Venere, which as mentioned is not one of the famous five, but still beautiful.
I end this post with a couple of photos of Kathleen and I and something completely different. First up, Kathleen all set for the day’s walk, then yours truly enjoying the delights of a post walk aperitif by the sea. The final photo is indeed of something special. On our last evening in Bonassala, the local chefs were attempting to create a world record for the largest lasagna cooked with pesto. It seems they succeeded. It eventually turned out at 50 squared metres in size and involved 50kg of basil and another 50kg of pine nuts. God knows how much pasta was in there. Alas we did not get to sample this delicacy. Bon voyage and happy memories! If you want some more information about the Cinque Terre, here is an italian site, which has an English language version.