September 22, 2011
Today we did a day trip from Firenze to hike the beautiful coastal towns of Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre means five lands and is comprised of five villages: (South to North) Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. It takes 2 trains and about 3 hours to reach the first town, Riomaggiore, from Firenze but the beauty of these villages perched along the coast is completely worth the trek. I hiked Cinque Terre four years ago with friends from my opera group, when I was studying in Lucca, and absolutely loved it. We ended up spending an entire day and about 6 hours hiking between the towns. It was really exhausting but I was looking forward to the challenge yet again with Kat and Nat.
The last time I hiked the trails, we started at the northernmost town and made our way south and I remember thinking it would have been easier to hike the trails south to north. The girls and I had planned on hiking this way but since some of the trails were closed, we would start at the middle town Corniglia and hike north to Vernazza. Before we started hiking we chose a cute outdoor restaurant to have lunch. Cinque Terre is known for its delicious pesto and wine. We all ordered gnocchi with pesto and the house white wine and feasted.
Once we finished lunch, we set out for the next village, Vernazza. This stretch of trail is green and gorgeous, providing fantastic vineyard and coastal views. The hiking was very challenging as we conquered rocky steps and the scorching sun. It seemed as if all of the steps we previously walked were training for this hike. The ocean breeze kept us slightly cooler as we made our way to Vernazza.
Vernazza is a cute, extremely photogenic village. The pastel homes and restaurants provide an incomparable coastal setting. After taking a bunch of photos we had to catch the last train back to Firenze. Cinque Terre is a fantastic coastal excursion from Tuscany.