During my first solo trip, to Italy in 2001, I wanted to add Cinque Terre to my itinerary, but there were just too many places to see… So on my third day in Florence I decided to take a day-trip to this lovely area along the Ligurian coast (Italian riviera). It took about 2.5 hours to get there, but I left early and could start hiking the route amongst the 5 little towns Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. I remember it was extremely hot on that day. I had a money belt on and the money inside actually got wet from my sweat! I have so many wonderful memories of that day. A can of beer cost less than a can of coke, so I bought a beer along the way to cool down… I was in awe, the colourful houses perched on the rocks along the coast, the fishermen mending their nets, the fact that you could decide at any time to leave the hiking route and just hop on a train. I had to do that to get in time to Monterosso for the sunset. I had a lovely swim and then had to head back to Florence. I got there quite late, and was still in such a daze after this wonderful day, that I totally got lost on my way to the hostel where I stayed.
In any case, my actual story today is about the time I went back to Cinque Terre during my last solo trip in 2009, also to Italy. I decided to plan my route in such a way that my stay in Cinque Terre would coincide with my birthday. I decided to make the less popular town, Corniglia, my base, also to try to escape the hordes of tourists swarming the small towns. Recently I heard that they are now only allowing a certain number of tourists per day, which I’m really glad to hear. This whole area is actually a national park and they intend to make the park only accessible by reservation. A Cinque Terre Card was also implemented, to be able to access the park. The sales will allow for the maintenance of the park, the rebuilding of stonewalls, etc. But it also serves as a way to limit the numbers. This website will show you all the available walking routes and which routes are closed for repair work, etc.
So I arrived in Corniglia at sunset (after a whole day train trip from the Marché district) and got this room which looked out on part of the town and towards the sea. The best!
The next day was my birthday and I decided to have a quiet day, exploring Corniglia, catch up with some e-mails and Facebook posts at the internet shop (yes, it was not that easy in those days…) And then only walked to Vernazza, the neighbouring town. That evening I had a wonderful dinner and enjoyed watching the children playing in the park next to my hotel.
The next day was my last day and decided to walk again to the other closest town, Manarola. I didn’t have enough time to reach Riomaggiore too, since I had another train trip waiting – To Lucca! …