A few hours on the train and we had left the city of Milan behind, through the Italian countryside and arrived in Monterosso – the biggest village in the Cinque Terre. We were greeted by a friend from work’s sister, Melina, who now lives in Monterosso and her in-laws own a vineyard in Cinque Terre, called Buranco. We were lucky enough to be able to stay at their place. Our room was a little flat-out the back of the main house, with a loft bedroom. You actually felt like you were staying at Grandmas house, complete with rose printed sheets and lace doilies. There was also a lovely gift from my friend at work – how thoughtful!
After lunch (yummy mussels and grilled prawns) and a swim at the beach we catch up with Melina, who takes us on a tour of the “Old Town” of Monterosso.
It’s full of history and stories. The most recent being the major floods of 2011, which covered the town in water and mud almost up to the tops of the doorways. These two pictures are of the same shop – one under mud in 2011, one open for business today…
One of the more unique buildings in Monterosso was the church, which had black and white stripes! It’s where Melina got married. I imagine it would have been beautiful.
You can almost picture the church full of guests and flowers and the bride walking down the aisle…
We were treated to a wine tasting at Buranco vineyard and just sat and enjoyed being on holidays. Buranco produced two white wines and a red wine. But my favourite was a lovely dessert wine called sciacchetra. It is a local specialty and I made sure I bought a bottle to bring back with me.
And what a view! Tiers of grape vines in one of the best vineyards in Cinque Terre.
We take Melina’s recommendation and have the antipasti for two at a beach side restaurant. While it was more seafood than I usually eat (I tried anchovies for the first time… the jury is still out on that one), it was a lovely meal.
One thing I noticed while travelling with my friend Sare is, she brings the rain. Before meeting up with me in Milan, 5 out of the 6 countries she went to it had rained (remember its summer in Europe) and the 6th country had a once-in-a-decade wind storm. True to form, the rain came in that night with thunder and lightning. In fact part of the town went into a blackout. There was just enough light for us to make it back home.
The good news, it was a clear and sunny day for our Cinque Terre walk. After breakfast in the vineyard, we head towards the water and begin the walk. I could get used to waking up here everyday.
The Italian Riviera didn’t disappoint… from a picture perfect vineyard to a picture perfect beach in Monterosso.
Leaving Monterosso behind, we head out along the cliffs. All up, it took somewhere between 6 and 7 hours to finish, but we checked out each of the towns, ate and drank along the way. Each town had its own personality.
First up, Vernazza. Situated out on a point, it must be a popular tourist place for the British, as there seemed to be quite a few here. While you can’t swim in the bay, the local kids liked to jump of the point when the waves came in
Corniglia is set further up the mountain (read, lots of walking up hill) and was our choice for lunch. On the way into town, we stopped to pose in front of the famous colourful homes perched on the cliffs. I also tried my first Italian pizza and it was delicious! I had pesto again… there’s something about basil, I just can’t get enough. Lucky I’m in the right country to feed my obsession!
We had to catch a train between Corniglia and Manarola because of the mudslides. Even though they were over a year prior, then clean up continued. It doesn’t take long and we are in Manarola, which I think had the hippyest vibe out of the five villages. I loved to explore the small, stone streets.
On the way in to the next village you walk along “Via Dell’Amore” or “way of love” with lots of padlocks with little love notes. Quite romantic.
While in Riomaggiore, we saw a wedding and true to Italian style, the bride was in a stunning, voluminous white dress, with lots of detail.
After another gelato, we jump back on the train and make our way to Saint Raphael in the French Riviera. The Cinque Terre was a beautiful part of the world and am looking forward to go back again.