A Day in Cinque Terre

Second day of the first weekend in Italy, I and a couple other people decided to go to Cinque Terre, literally means “five lands” or “five cities on the hills” in Italian, which consists of the 5 villages of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, and is a national park of Italy. The 5 villages are along the west coast of Italy by the Ligurian Sea, and each village is connected with trails that were built on the steep cliffs the villages are located on.

So the morning was almost a disaster. We decided to meet at the front step of the Duomo at 5:30 am, because the train that would take us to La Spezia leaves at 6:15 am, and we wanted to get to La Spezia (it takes 2 hours to get there from Florence via Empoli and Pisa) early enough to catch another train to Cinque Terre. So I didn’t bring an alarm clock with me to Italy (big mistake right there), and I found out that my cell phone’s time is not synchronized with anything, as it’s 10:04 pm in Florence now, and my cell phone tells me it’s 3:19 pm January 6th. I still set an alarm on it, taking the way off time into consideration, and it worked. Today at 5:04 am, it rang, and I hit the end button and went back to bed. The next time I woke up,  my phone told me that it’s 10:46 pm, and I couldn’t remember what the difference between my cell phone time with the real time is. So I pretty much got out of bed and ran to the train station, since I thought the train was probably leaving soon. I got to the train station and found out that it’s actually only 5:40 am. So it all worked out, nobody missed the train because of anybody.

That’s not all, we got on the train, and got off at the wrong stop. Apparently there are two stations in La Spezia, and we got off at the earlier one, which doesn’t have trains that go to Cinque Terre. Luckily enough, we managed to get on the city bus with some local people’s help and got to the right train station on time. Well, since Cinque Terre is a really popular tourist attraction, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and today is Sunday, the train station and the train were just packed.

After a while of close body contact with strangers on the train, we got to Monterosso, the northernmost of the 5 villages. We decided to have some food, and as Monterosso is famous for its anchovies, I ordered salt-curded anchovies with oregano (there was also the option of getting anchovies with lemon juice and herbs). I will have to say I wish I had ordered the one with lemon, as it tasted much lighter and refreshing than the heavy saltiness of the salt-curded version. The anchovies do taste pretty meaty like any other fish. The restaurant also had really good bread too.

Monterosso apparently is also famous for its beaches, as there were way too many people showing way too much of their bodies (it’s probably more an European thing, but I find it weird to see old men wearing speedo that are just too tight for them). On the other hand, the view of the Ligurian Sea was absolutely amazing and astonishingly beautiful. Even though I did realize that it’s the same sea, it was still worth taking pictures of it at all the other 4 villages we visited after Monterosso.

Overall, the 5 villages were just charming, similar yet different in one way or another. We also hiked from Manarola to Riomaggiore, which took about 20 minutes. It was really amazing to see how roads, trails, and pretty much the whole cities were built on those steep hills.

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