Our trip to Italy in June was a dream. What’s better than spending 10 days traveling across one of the most beautiful and history-packed places in the world with some of your very best friends?
After flying into Rome we immediately took the train up to Cinque Terre. These “Five Lands” in the Ligurian Riviera are small fishing villages painstakingly carved into the sides of rugged mountains.
We stayed in Borgo di Campi, a set of cabins on the side of a mountain close to Riomaggiore, the largest of the Cinque Terre.
This was our view during our first real meal in Italy after about 20 hours of traveling (ATL>ORD>FCO> 7 hour train to La Spezia>30 minute cab to Borgo di Campi).
Not bad, right?
Tourism has been both a blessing and a curse for this area. Catering to tourists from around the world has enriched people of the area, but it also means fewer farmers are cultivating the ancient terraces where grapevines once grew. This has led to more mud and rock slides, including a tragic flood in 2011 that killed 9 people.
Knowing the beauty of the land is key to maintaining tourism, this has led some locals back to grape growing.
We took a boat tour to see all 5 towns from the vantage point of the Ligurian Sea.
After the boat tour, which included lunch, we took off on a hike from the farthest town of Montorosso to Vernazza and on to Corniglia, a total of about 4 grueling miles. I was not wearing appropriate footwear, but it was still beautiful and I’m glad we did it.
My feet were aching and I was huffing and puffing and sweaty but dang, was it worth it.
After the most underwhelming dinner of the trip (it was our fault, we totally should have known better than to go to the brand new restaurant with english menus) we blew off some steam by buying a couple bottles of wine… That we couldn’t open because we didn’t have a bottle opener.
Not to be deterred James and Jamey figured it out with a little help from YouTube and we grabbed a cab back to our cabin to enjoy the bottles out on the porch.
The next day was significantly lower key, spent exploring Riomaggiore, Manarola, and Monterosso al Mare. The last two legs of the hike between the towns is still under construction after the 2011 rockslides and is thus closed. I was fine with it.
All told we spent about 3 days in Cinque Terre and it was absolutely amazing. A little bit more expensive than other parts of the country, but I’m very glad we went… It’s basically impossible to take a bad picture there!
Be warned, we were there the first week of June and it was absolutely crowded. Most of the time it wasn’t an issue, but it really is the height of tourism season.
It was also still just a little bit too chilly to go swimming, although this could have something to do with all the rain they had the week before we arrived. Either way, it was cool at night and warm during the day, but not warm enough to lay out on the beach, IMO… Although we definitely saw more than one young man braving the chilly Ligurian Sea to impress the girls he was with. 😉