I promised a little photo diary of our trip to Cinque Terre in Italy. If you're not familiar with the area, check it out on the internet. It's beautiful, and though it's been Rick Steve'd over the last decade, it is enchanting, colorful, and well worth the visit.
Sonya and I drove from Aix en Provence and stopped at a gas station north of Antibes for our first fill-up. Check out the view from the service station.
We had pretty much decided that was The Most Beautiful Gas Station In The World, until we had to stop at another one for a cup of coffee...just before the Italian border. You decide...we couldn't!
The Cinque Terre consists of 5 old fishing and wine production villages along the Italian coast. It is now a protected area and cars are not allowed into the villages but there are hiking paths and a train line that run between all of them. We left our car in Levanto and took the train to our final destination in Vernazza.
We had been lucky enough to get a room with Giuliano and Michelle at Camere Giuliano, only because of a cancelation. Our instructions were to "go down the stairs from the train station, go into the first wine store on the left in the village and ask the owners to call Giuliano who would come to get us". He arrived pronto and helped us carry our bags up the 67 steps (these villages are all terraced)...
along the old pathway lined with ancient buildings (Michelle thinks they're an eyesore...I think they make for great photos)
to our final destination...a lovely 4 room bed-without-breakfast built by Guiliano, a local stone mason. I really thought the towels must have been added just for photos but, in fact, it had been raining (and continued) for almost a month and they couldn't get them dry!
When I turned around to look at the view, it felt like the eye of the universe was looking down upon us.
We spent the rest of the evening wandering the little town of Vernazza, which has everything you need. A bar, a pizzeria, a couple of restaurants...but with all the storms...no internet and frequent electricity blackouts.
And in spite of all the tourists and hikers, this ain't Disney World! These two have no camera, no guidebooks and wouldn't be caught dead in hiking boots!
The next day and a half we explored the villages, walked between Riomaggiore and Manorola (the saturated soil made the terracing unstable and all the trails were closed except for this one, which is really just a paved stroll)...
hopped the train between the other villages...
explored, shopped, ate, drank the excellent local wine and celebrated Sonya's birthday
I was fascinated by the way boats are "parked" up and down the streets or in front of people's houses...and of course, as usual, by the color of it all..
Sonya loved the gates and doors...I swear she took a thousand photos of just that! I have to say this particular door and it's color and texture sends me.. I gotta learn to paint!
and I will someday have a secret garden like this...
Corniglia is the only village without sea access, the most remote and the least visited. Perhaps that's because you have to climb 33 flights (377 stairs) to get there!
Yes, those are the railroad tracks far below. There is a bus to get up to the village but we had eaten a lot of pizza and climbing stairs beats lunges all to hell!
Our last evening in Vernazza involved dinner, a few more photos...
a bottle of local wine on the terrace..
And this incredible scene as the sun disappeared.
oh and one last note...perhaps all the stereotypes of Italian men are true. We ducked into a teeny, tiny bar in Vernazza to get out of the rain. The baker came out for a little break...with his latest creation!