Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cinque Terre

You can do the Cinque Terre in one day, but it's not easy.  We hire Paola to guide us, and when we get to the train station and see the flocks of English and American tourists trying to find their way through the tunnels and to the right platform, we are so happy.  Heck, we wouldn't have found the train station without Paola.  
When we give up our seats to get off in Rio Maggiore and we see the seething mass of humanity trying to get on the train we just got off, we think we've made a terrible mistake.  But Paola walks us thru yet another tunnel into the town:
and thru the maze to the harbor.
And when we get on the next train to the next town, Manarola,  it's not nearly as crowded.

The streets are steep:

And crowded.  But apparently it's worse when the cruise ships are in.  And clearly the staff lives above this sandwich shop - you can tell by the aprons hanging out to dry.
It's a gorgeous day, people are sunning and swimming from the rocks
and the narrow beaches
 You can walk, kayak, train or boat between most of the villages - there was a torrential storm with mudslides in 2012 and the path between Rio Maggiore and Manarola is still closed. 
  We boat and train between the towns, and lunch at Belforte in Vernazza.  Perched high on the rocks above the crowded town, with a fabulous view of the harbor, we dine up three flights of rock and steel stairs, on a rock terrace with a 360 degree view.  
Never would have found it without help, the town is a maze of tunnels and stairs.  Thank you Paola.  
Great food, I don't like anchovies but these were delicious:
and Fritto Misto
 Took this boat to Monterossa al Mare, 
into a beautiful harbor, and a town full of tourists.  The Americans are easy to spot, they look like giant seagulls in squishy white shoes.  
On the way we passed strange looking rental boats - part pedal boat, part water slide - complete with bathing beauties.  It's all about the sea.
On the way home we can see Carrara, the marble mountains rising white like snow covered alps behind the town.  This is where the marble for Michelangelo's David came from, and they waste nothing.  The marble dust is put into the local toothpaste.  And there is a special kind of lard, Colonata, that is mixed with herbs, salt and pepper, and then aged in Carrara marble.  If we see it in the stores we are so trying it.  Wonder what the cardiologists here have to say about it. 

Home to Lucca Lucca.  Exhausted.  Happy.

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