16.10.12

Cinque Terre Italy

One of my favorite shots of Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre, Italy.  This is where we stayed!
Cinque Terre Italy (The Five Lands), that mythical portion of the Italian Riviera that has, for centuries, lured travelers in with the promise of fine Italian wines, charming local flare, breathtaking views, and romantic hikes uninterrupted by passing vehicles. I had a good friend who had hiked The Five Lands with his wife several years ago, and after seeing his pictures, I instantly added the destination to my "bucket list." I know it is a super "touristy" place to visit in Italy, but I am a tourist, and I want to tour as much of this amazing world as possible!

Kayla and I were blessed with fantastic weather and cheap flights in mid-September! We did book about three months ahead, so perhaps a little advance planning helped us stick to our budgets. Even with three months notice, it was a struggle to find a comfortable, budget friendly B&B with an available room. If you are planning to spend some time in Cinque Terre next summer (2013), I would suggest contacting B&Bs now! A lot of places are already booking up for June, July and August. You will need to contact most places via email when requesting a reservation. 

I learned while researching that there are a few (super expensive) hotels in Cinque Terre, but the most common thing to do is to get a room at a guest house or family run B&B. I used Trip Advisor as a reference, and decided to book four nights at Locanda Ca da Iride in Riomaggiore, the first of The Five Lands. Our little B&B was nothing spectacular, but it was clean and the family was friendly and accommodating. Riomaggiore was a great home base from which to explore all of Cinque Terre. A lot of B&Bs only accept cash payments once you check out, so as a rule of thumb, contact your accommodation several times before you arrive to make sure they indeed have your booking. 

We had such a great time in Cinque Terre, and even though I can now check it off my "bucket list," I want to get back there some day with my Hubby! Enjoy a few of our pictures and if you are interested in any of my notes from the trip, I will list them at the end of this post. 

First picture of both of us in Cinque Terre! Rocks make great tripods!
Riomaggiore - Cinque Terre, Italy.
It's really this beautiful!
You just cannot stop taking pictures of Riomaggiore, Italy!
Via dell'Amore (Walk of Love) Kayla is looking for a lover. 
Mimosas on the hike at Bar dell'Amore. 
Grapes off the vine in Groppo, Italy. 
Wine Tasting in Groppo, Italy. 
We hiked up to Corniglia, but we didn't eat or drink here. 
Entering Vernazza, Italy. This was our favorite of The Five Lands
The views of Vernazza, Italy just take your breath away!

Two girls in Vernazza with a mini bottle of wine and a lovely sunset. 

The umbrellas are the restaurant Baia Saracena where we had some great pizza. 
Our last day was stormy and we spent it in Monterosso al Mare. 

We had the best sangria at Enoteca del Eliseo in Monterosso al Mare
The owner of Enoteca del Eliseo treated us to his homemade grappa and limoncello. 

As promised, I will leave you with a list of our Cinque Terre "loves." 


Riomaggiore (Where we Stayed):

Breakfast - Every morning we picked up fruit at a local co-op (store) on the main street. We stuffed our bags with fruit and munched on it along the hike. 

Dinner - La Lanterna - A great, family run Trattoria right on the water. Great food and friendly service!

Hiking - You can start your hike from any of The Five Lands, and you will pay 5 Euro each day that you hike. The hiking fee is used to maintain the trails and is much needed after the mudslides last year. We started hiking from Riomaggiore, and whenever we didn't feel like hiking anymore, we just took the train. You can buy a daily hiking/training pass for 10 Euros. Also ask for a train schedule at any of the stations, the schedule is helpful since the times are pretty limited. 

Mimosas on a Hike?! - We hiked the romantic Via dell'Amore from Riomaggiore to Manarola, and about ten minutes into the hike, we stopped for mimosas at Bar dell'Amore. Why not?! It was a girl trip after all!


Manarola

A Little Dip - We were so hot after our (short) hike, so we walked down to the water and jumped in! There is no sand in Manarola, but stairs have been carved into the stone allowing you to easily reach the water. Once you jump in, little ladders are cleverly placed to help you get OUT of the water gracefully. 

Groppo - Manarola was pretty quiet, so we decided to take a friend's suggestion and hike up to the small hill town of Groppo. We meandered through cliff-side vineyards and grabbed handfuls of grapes as we passed. Eventually we found a place at the very top of Groppo where we could taste some wine. 


Vernazza (Our Favorite)

Picture Worthy Time/Place - Make sure to go out on the pier and get some pictures back on Vernazza as the sun is setting. This was my favorite bunch of pictures from the trip. You can also buy a half bottle (or a whole bottle) of wine at any little store and they might even offer to open the bottle and provide plastic cups so that you and a "glass" of vino can take in the majestic sunset. 

Dinner #1 - As the sun was setting, we had dinner on the pier at a little Pizzeria called Baia Saracena. The pizzas were good and the wine was cheap! What more do you need when in Italy?! We even made some local friends who invited us out for post dinner drinks. Salute!

Dinner #2 - We liked Vernazza so much that we decided to do dinner there a second night. It was a stormy evening, so we were forced to sit inside at Ristorante Pizzeria Bar "Vulnetia." The interior is very cozy with exposed brick walls and high, wooden ceilings. We had pizza and while it was good, we quite preferred our first dinner at Baia Saracena. 


Monterosso al Mare - (The Town with the Beach)

The BEST Sangria! - Kayla and I fell in love with the little bar called Enoteca del Eliseo in Monterosso! You will have to wind through lovely little streets to find this place, but once you get there, the cinnamon and clove Sangria is well worth the trip!

Take a Hike - Hike up the hill and get a view of Monterosso. The cemetery for all five towns is located at the highest point of the city. Random little fact. 

Lunch With a View - We had caprese salads for lunch right on the water at Nuovo Eden Bar and Gelateria. The food was nothing to write home about, but the setting was worth every single Euro penny!

I know that there is so much that we did not see and experience, so I will have to drag Hubby along for a second Cinque Terre adventure in the near future! As always, thanks for reading!