November 21st, 2010



After 3 days of drizzle, downpours and cloud cover, the sun finally broke through and lit up Italy for us. We took the train from Rapallo about an hour south to Cinque Terre. After consulting the guidebook, we decided to skip the northernmost village of the 5 coastal towns that make up Cinque Terre and started at Vernazza, which was touted as the "most quaint". Our plan was to walk around town, eat lunch and when we were ready to move on, hike the mountain footpath to the next village south. But after alighting from the train and stepping into Vernazza's sun-washed main street, we wondered if we'd ever really want to leave at all.

Even for a completely cloudless sunny day, the tourists in this hugely popular area were at a minimum. I think there were possibly 40 people all told around town when we arrived and at least half of those were locals. We stopped in a small shop selling ceramics and souvenirs and then continued down to the tiny circular harbor, fronted by a church and enclosed by a beautiful breakwater with stone mosaics and benches along its length. A group of local men were arguing politics heatedly in the sunshine. Cats were sunning themselves on the dock. We could see an enticing cave in the hillside opposite the harbor but there seemed no way to get to it. The terraced farms stretched above our heads into the sunshine and the water leapt in white spray against the rocks.

After a long leisurely while in the sun, we found a pizzeria and had lunch and then headed back to the top of town to find the entrance to the walking path. Unfortunately, it turned out that they were all closed, due to the heavy rainfall previously in the week, so we ended up hopping on the train again instead to Corniglia, the next village south of us.

Vernazza street view

So happy the sun is shining!

Curses! Foiled again!

By the time we arrived in Corniglia, it was late afternoon. There's really nothing much there to see, after you climb the 382 (!) steps that lead up the mountainside from the train station. It's a tiny town full of twisty stone passageways and stairwells with a beautiful terraced viewing platform looking over the blue, blue Mediterranean. We visited the tiny oratory church of St. Caterina, befriended a couple of cats, bought gelato and sat in the sunshine in the tiny square to enjoy it. People were leaving, shops were closing, so we headed back to Rapallo. Happily, we still have 3 towns still to see in Cinque Terre someday!

Manarolo in the distance

Stairway to Corniglia

Sunbasking cat in a stone bowl

Karin's favorite Corniglian cat

(All photos copyright Anders Ek)

Bright & Beautiful Birthday Wishes to dbrus and Belated Ones to davesanngel!