Friday, November 13, 2009

Hiking the Cinque Terre

Another of my long-held goals was accomplished when we hiked the Cinque Terre, which is the trail that connects 5 of the cliff-hugging villages on the north-west coast of Italy, south of Genoa. The area is a National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

La Spezia, the city you must go through to get to the south end of the Cinque Terre. We camped in a mosquito-infested campground near here in 1996.

Many years ago the only way to go between the villages was to walk the path, but now there is both a railroad and a boat to take you to each of the charming villages. Mobs of tourists simply take the railroad or a boat from village to village, flooding the lovely little towns. Definitely spoils it, but is good for the economy of the small towns. The hike itself is nice and the towns are gorgeous, but I do wonder how the locals cope! We were there on a beautiful sunny Saturday at the beginning of October and there truly were mobs of tourists.

And some of those stupid tourists even take pictures of their laundry hanging out to dry!

In Riomaggiori I was finally able to take a picture of my favourite vehicle, the three-wheeled truck.

We started at the south end. The path to the next village, Manarola was beautifully paved, and due to it being such a short and easy path, the stream of people reminded me of a shopping mall in December. But once the hiking got a little more strenuous the mob was greatly reduced.

Next village, Manarola

Looking back at Manarola

Next village, Corniglia

If you enlarge this picture you will see a man in the water, floating on his back.

We seemed to have accidently found the easier way up to Corniglia, a paved road. Others were climbing the 368 steps. Oh well...  These two buildings were parked well away from everything else. They really stood out, for more than one reason!
It seems that British Columbia is not the only place with wildfires! Corniglia came very close to being burned.

Terraced hillsides all over the place. Guess what they were growing on them? Grapes and olives. Just what Italy is famous for.

The gadget above and the track below were likely used to haul the grape harvest up the steep hill.


The path took us through part of the burned area, a former olive grove.

Approaching Vernazza, the fourth of the five villages. It was the end of the trail for us, as we still had to drive to France that day.

Charming houses

This may have been set out special for the stream of walkers, so maybe they don't mind us too much.

When there was a break in the crowd I squatted down and snapped this pic. As I stood up, someone was taking a picture of me taking that picture!

Looking at Vernazza from the pier

A map of the Cinque Terre National Park's trails. I have read that the upper trails are far less crowded, so maybe on my next trip to Italy I will visit them.

Gary was not able to do the hike with us, due to his recent back operation. But he was still able to take in some of the scenery by driving to viewpoints such as this one.

The Last Supper
In a few minutes we were to split up. Liana flew back to London, while Gary and Kent drove Rory and I to Menton, which is just inside France. Then Kent flew from Milan back to Baku in Azerbaijan, Gary flew to Ireland for a week and Rory and I went to a rental in Provence.

Our final meal involved simply sitting on the ground. They just don't know how to do rest areas in Europe the way that we do in North America. Heck, they don't even have washrooms at rest areas!! Next time I take photos I will have to prep Rory in how to prepare to have his picture taken. I don't think he looks normal in a single one that I took. But maybe there will be some better ones in France.

1 comment:

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