It’s true…I’m trying to find a life in Tuscany, but Liguria is right around the corner yet for years I have not got around to traveling to the Cinque Terre. The visit of a dear friend, two spare days and fantastic weather helped me to make that decision. And so, finally, we made the leap to our neighbor’s province. The part of Tuscany where I live is not so different from Liguria and only when we saw the road sign “Liguria” we realized that we had actually crossed the border.
Before taking the corner and driving up on the right side towards Cinque Terre, we had a beautiful view of La Spezia, a busy town with a harbor filled up with boats and military ships. After a further ten minutes, whilst we were trying to figure out how we could see the sea on our left and not on our right,
all of a sudden, we noticed a huge blue, sparkling surface between bushes and trees – on our left! It was breath taking and I would have been perfectly happy to stop and shoot loads of photos right there but the Cinque Terre were waiting for us. It took us another twenty minutes or so, until we reached Riomaggiore, the first village where we were supposed to leave our car. We had in mind to walk to Manarola, to Corniglia and, strength and time permitting (it was 12.00 h when we arrived), towards Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. At that point, we obviously did not know that the walk is ten kilometers long and the difference in height about six hundred meters. It needs at least five hours for one way! I suppose that we were blind and dazzled by the incredible beauty of the place and the stunning color of the sea. Over centuries, the inhabitants have patiently built paths, small houses and terraces on and along the harsh, steep landscape. Part of its charm is that you can’t reach the place by car but only by train, boat or trekking. Walking in the sun, fitting the rocky wall snugly on one side and trying to fight the fear and giddiness whilst looking down the cliff on the other, was a bold enterprise, but a little at a time we got use to it. After a two and a half hours walk in the middle of spectacular surroundings we reached a landslide which divides Manarola from Corniglia. By now it was afternoon and we decided to return to Riomaggiore (another two and a half hours!) and to organize another trip to Cinque Terre at a later date. Like a nose can’t appreciate more than three or four different fragrances at a time, our eyes were so fulfilled by the beauty we had seen that we would not have been able to actually “see” further splendor.
The “Five Lands” are a UNESCO World Heritage site and they truly deserve it.
To be continued…
Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany