Friday, November 9, 2018

Italy, Part 4 of 4: Cinque Terre - Celebrating 10 Great Years in 5 Small Villages

The final stop of our Italy Trip brought us to the Italian Riviera and its most iconic highlight, the five fishing communities of the Cinque Terre.  But the highlight for us was the private renewal of our wedding vows on our 10th Wedding Anniversary - 10/11/18 - but more on that later!


The "Cinque Terre" (literally meaning "Five Lands") are five small villages, accessible for the most part by only a local train and hiking trails, and a little ferry that goes between the villages. 


Even though they are no longer isolated and have been "found" by tourists, they still have a wonderful feel of remote authenticity and perfectly preserved architecture, and were my favorite stop of the trip.


Manarola is arguably the most picturesque of the villages.  It is built on a foundation of black rock and its beautiful pastel buildings hover over its tiny marina.


Stepped vineyards line the hillsides, where the town produces wine and olive oil.  The Manarola grapevines produce the Cinque Terre wine called Sciacchetra.


The Goddess of Wine isn't just in Tuscany, you know ...


Everything is sharp edges and steep cliffs in Cinque Terre!


Hiking is popular between the villages, meaning lots of earnest but sweaty people wearing backpacks and carrying hiking poles everywhere you go.  You used to be able to go between all five, but rockslides have more or less permanently closed two of the segments. We hiked the "Blue Trail No. 2" to Vernazza, with beautiful views and a few surprises along the way.



It's not often you encounter an accordion player in the middle of a remote trail.  Only in Italy!


The trail wound through lots of private vineyards.  "Trains" like these have replaced old-school hand-carrying of baskets on your shoulders, to transport materials up and grapes down.


Beautiful antique bridge 


Won't you please cuddle the wild cats?  Uhhhhh.......no.  (They weren't in their houses.  Not that we would have cuddled them anyway.)  But we did check that the food bowl was full.



Vernazza in the distance from the high trail.


Finally reached the end of the hiking trail!  So pretty!  


And when you hike more, you get to eat more.  Score!


Our hotel was in the largest of the villages, Monterosso al Mare. 



But the hotel wasn't down in the middle of town ... it was perched high on a cliff!


Meaning many long (but beautiful) walks up .... 


...and back down to town!  But with the constant company of the sea by your side.


Cars share this tunnel with pedestrians and we regularly saw people getting whacked by side mirrors as cars sped by.


The drivers are just as crazy here as elsewhere in Italy.  The cars are also just as trashed.  This was a very creative use of cable ties.


The popular takeaway snack in the villages is called friggitoria, where bite-sized, deep-fried fresh seafood is piled into a paper cone.  


This is the entire town of Monterosso al Mare.  It was "sleepy" to just the right degree.


Monterosso al Mare is also the village with the largest beach, and is still a working fishing village.


The furthest village from Monterosso is Riomaggiore.  


All the train stations have tunnels out to the street, but Riomaggiore's was the most artfully beautiful.


The village's pastel buildings line up down a steep ravine to a tiny harbor.



On the day of our 10th Wedding Anniversary, 
we had a destination in mind .... Via dell'Amore .... "Lovers Lane"!


Lovers Lane has been closed for years due to rock slides, and will probably continue to be closed for a long time (if not forever).  We knew this would be the case but wanted to leave a lock anyway.


Philip had ordered a lovers' lock from Amazon before we went.  These are meaningful because they have no key!  Once they are locked onto a fence or gate, they are "permanent as your love."



It was rainy all day, which is supposedly good luck on your wedding day.  But we had planned to renew our vows at sunset ... 5:30 PM ... and would prefer to not get drenched during the ceremony!  Would the weather give us a little break?  Fingers crossed all day!


 Like clockwork, just 30 minutes before, the sun started to break through the clouds, and then it started drizzling again just 30 minutes after our ceremony.  /whew!/


We stood on our private balcony overlooking the sea, shared cherished memories, spoke aloud the vows we had individually written in secret, shed many tears, and toasted the next 10 years ahead with local limoncello. 
(We only commit 10 years at a time.  Keeps us on our toes.)



BEST . DAY . EVER !!!!  To the next 10, sweetie!


And so, with the sun setting (and moon rising) on our Cinque Terre adventure, we had to bid the five villages and indeed all of Italy, "alla prossima," or "until we meet again!" 


Back home in Scottsdale, we are gearing up for another fun holiday season.  Then, in January-February 2019 we'll be back in the Lucky Charm, touring many of the State Parks of Texas!  You can take the girl (temporarily) out of the RV, but you can't take the RV spirit out of the girl!