Cinque Terre, Italy
Oh Cinque Terre… such a beautiful place. And thanks to that asshole Rick Steves, pretty much everyone knows it. Fortunately, our time here was largely during the off-peak days of the week, having arrived on Saturday night (which was crazy busy, however) and staying through Tuesday morning. The “five lands” sits on the northern part of Italy’s western coast as the peninsula meets the mainland. There are five towns build right into the coastal hillside, connected only by winding pathways (and speeding trains). Besides the tourist euros flying out of my pockets, the locals appear to survive on the growing of grapes for use in the production of wines specific to their region (very tasty in a well-balanced dry/sweet sort of way). Fishing also appeared to be a popular occupation and hobby. Consequently, most menus leaned heavily towards affordable fresh fish offerings. This pleased me greatly. Again, as is the theme of Italy, craft beer was clearly not high on their priority list. I didn’t find much of interest here.
The percentage of grape vines vs. olive trees in Cinque Terre was more like I would have expected of Italy, with grapes taking priority unlike the area of Tuscany in which we stayed where olive trees were the majority. This reversal was puzzling though, as nearby Genoa is actually the birthplace of pesto and olive oil is a major component of that wonderfully tasty sauce.
The locals have adapted very well to growing grapes on the steep hills outside of each town. They have setup a mini train/roller coaster of sorts to take them up and down the slopes as they harvest grapes. Check this thing out:
You can probably get the idea that Cinque Terre is a photographer’s dream destination. In fact, we actually met a photography student from St. Cloud, MN on a hike from Vernazza to Monterosso al Marre. Crazy that you can go half way across the world and bump into someone from St. Cloud.
Our apartment was located in the second of five towns, Manarola. While in Cinque Terre, we also spent time at the beach in Monterossa al Marre, had some delicious meals in Vernazza and Riomaggiore, and caught the sunset from the best vantagepoint in the region, which also happens to be Riomaggiore. The only town we didn’t really make it into was Corniglia.