Cinque Terre. It means five towns. Or more precisely, five magically beautiful towns along the Italian Riviera.
In August last year, I did the famous walk between these towns with five beautiful friends. Cinque Terre con cinque amici – serendipity!
Our journey began from the most northern town of Monterosso, where we stayed the night before. We woke up very early (9.30am is early, right?) – bright-eyed, fresh faced and ready for a full day of hiking and exploring.
You can’t help yourself from staring at the kaleidoscope of colours from the bagnos stretched across the Monterosso beachfront. Isn’t it spectacular?
After tearing our eyes away from the colourful umbrellas, we started the walk down south.
Don’t let Amy’s joyful smile fool you, the first walk between Monterosso to Vernazza is the most difficult!
We hiked up many, MANY steps along the mountain pathway and across dirt tracks for one and a half hours.
Ironman Levi lead the way, followed by the super sporty Amy and then Verity (who later overtook everyone in a spurt of adrenaline). Sarah decided to turn back and catch the train to Vernazza instead, leaving little old me to trail behind the others.
In between my huffing and puffing, I cursed myself for foolishly thinking this would be an easy stroll like the Bondi to Bronte walk.
But I really shouldn’t complain when the views are as breathtaking as these …
When we finally reached the next town of Vernazza, I stopped to catch my breath.
… both because the view of Vernazza is breathtaking and because I am really not as fit as I should be.
It seemed like all the other tourists had beat us to Vernazza – every small street between the brightly coloured buildings was packed with people.
Then we bumped into this familiar handsome Italian man … Danny!
Danny joined us for an alfresco lunch by the bay in Vernazza.
I’ve forgotten the restaurant name, but the location is tucked under those umbrellas at the bottom right of this next photo.
Pasta, pizza and a bottle of vino frizzante – just what we needed to recharge ourselves for the next walk.
After lunch, I really wanted to go for little afternoon nap on this beach around the corner.
But we still had so much more to see.
So, we waved goodbye to Vernazza and continued onto the path.
It was sad to see the stunning landscape of Vernazza disappear from behind us.
But then again, this is the view of what was coming up ahead.
Italy in the summer doesn’t get any more picturesque than this. The only exception is if you compare how Cinque Terre looked like before the 2011 landslide.
Locals say that the worst-affected towns of Monterossso and Vernazza can never be restored to their former beauty, but first-time visitors (including most of us) will still be blown away by these hidden gems along the Liguria coastline.
To be continued …