04 August, 2010

Cinque Terre

These are the five lands, actually hamlets clinging to the rock face perched above a splendid sea. So quote the guide books. The villages are just badly located as fishing villages. Riomaggiore has a small harbour, Manarolo the harbour so small they take the boats out of the water and store them on the precious land. If the west wind comes up they cant land and have to haul the boats into the air by crane. Corniglia is high above its small inlet called a harbour and Vernazza has some protection. The final town we visited is Monterosso has no protection at all with a gravel beach accessible only by paying some money.

Well what is the attraction to make millions of tourist visit these small town each year. it is the scenic walk along the cliff tops between the towns. That most good trampers do is take the train from La Spezia and stop at Riomaggiore having purchased a train and park access ticket for 8 euros. From the start the first leg to Manarola is only 1km which will take only 20 minutes. This is just a warm up run to get you into the swing of things. Any one can do this section.

The next from Manorola to Corniglia is the same distance of 1km but will take the average person 1h 10m. It is interesting and worth the walk especially the lovers section where poeple leave a lock attached to something.

Now starts the real "walk". The distance is 4km but will take you 1h 30m if you are super fit. Let me tell you not many people do it in that time especially if undertaken on a hot summers day at noon. It starts up the road out of town then goes through the olive grove round a valley, then up to the crest and then down along the face of the mountain side. Just when you think you can go no further some fellow will arrive from the opposite direction and ask "how far have you come?" Your return question get a response "Oh about 40 minutes - all up hill" Well that's great it is now down hill all the way. Wrong. Yes generally down and you know how hard it is to step down on uneven steps which may slide away from you at any time. Frequent stops, lots of water and two strong knee joints are essential for this section.

The next is only 3 miles but the guide book suggest it will take 2 hours - a half hour longer than the last 3km section. just imaging how tough that would be. We took the sensible option and jumped on the train to the fifth town of Monterosso. Here we walked along the promenade and took the train back to La Spezia. Having cooled off by now we took the number 3 bus to our stop on Garibaldi for the bus back to La Grazie. No touring for us tomorrow, a layday to get over the stiff muscles.

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