Beautiful, despite the rainy weather
03.11.2008 - 05.11.2008 16 °C
We arrived in Vernazza, one of the “five lands” of the Cinque Terre (that’s what Cinque Terre means, “five lands”) on the northwest Italian coast, late in the afternoon on Monday. The train travel from Pompeii to Vernazza was rather grueling. We took the commuter line from Pompeii to Naples and then got on a train that would take us from Naples to La Spezia, the southern gateway city to the Cinque Terre. The train ride from Naples to La Spezia was about six and a half hours. Then, it was about thirty minutes from La Spezia to Vernazza. Yikes. It was a long, long day.
But, when we arrived in Vernazza, the promised rain had evaporated and we were treated to some fabulous views all along the coast from the first of the “five lands” to Vernazza, the fourth town. We were met by our “host,” Egi, who escorted us to his house along the main drag, up a very long, steep set of stairs, to a short set of stairs going down, to the “Orange Room,” his family-size room. Vernazza is a tiny, beautiful place, with a population that shrinks to about 500 in the off-season. It doesn’t really have any hotels—a few “pensione” and a bunch of private homes that rent a few rooms to tourists. Egi rents three rooms in his house, each a different color.
Here’s a photo of Vernazza, taken on our arrival:
We basically dropped our bags in our room and headed right out. Darkness would come quickly and we wanted to get a look around. Vernazza has a lovely little harbor, a beach area, and a nice little piazza by the water, and a breakwater. The waves were really coming in when we got down to the breakwater, oh, about a thirty second walk from Egi’s front door. A group of young American tourists (probably college students) were on the breakwater catching some photos of the beautiful sunset. But, they misjudged the waves and got hit by one of them. They were soaked, along with their cameras.
We didn’t go out onto the breakwater. Here’s the shot we got:
After checking things out, we headed for the local food store, which was about as big as our living room, and got a few things for dinner (our room came with a kitchen). After a long day in the train, we didn’t really feel up to the kind of behavior necessary for going out.
On Tuesday morning, we awoke to the sounds of rain drops on the roof. We were discouraged. There’s not much to do in Vernazza when it’s raining. The allure of the area is the string of trails that connect the towns. By the time we got ourselves dressed, however, the rain had stopped, so we decided to head out. We checked in first with the tourist information office. In order to hike the trails, a special trail pass is necessary because it is a national park area. The man at the desk warned that it had been raining on and off, and sometimes heavily, for about a week. The trails were not in good condition and one trail, connecting towns two and three was closed because of the threat of landslides. He told us to go check it out and if we ended up using the trails, to pay later.
So, we headed off in the direction of Monterrosso, the fifth town. This hike is the most strenuous of the coastline trails, but would offer great views. First thing was to climb to the top of the town, which, of course, Margaret was very excited about. Here, Joe has just asked, “Hey Margaret, you want to go for a hike, mostly uphill??”
And no one can deny that the hike to the top of the top offered some lovely views:
Finally, we reached the trailhead. Some drizzle had started, but we decided to brave and to press on. Early on, Margaret was not happy:
But after a while, Margare reconciled herself to what she was in for:
Besides, the views were really stunning, despite the increasing rain. And, the rain did continue to pick up. By the time we reached Monterrosso, it was pouring. So, we decided to find the train station and take the train back to Vernazza. The train line that runs from town to town is the lifeline of the area.
The afternoon was spent resting, taking hot showers, trying to figure out to do a load of laundry (laundry has been the real challenge of this entire trip), and getting a drink at the Blue Marlin bar, where we would, supposedly, be able to up-date the blog. Well, we finally got a load of laundry started, which was a lot harder than you would think. And, after settling in at the Blue Marlin, with drinks and the laptop, we discovered that the Blue Marlin did not actually offer wifi—at least not to us. They had two computers in the corner and another, more local customer, with a laptop in another part of the bar. The customer with the laptop seemed to be on the internet, but, we werea just tourists . . . .
Anyway, we finished the up-date (the Pompeii entry) and went across the street to the internet point, which did offer access. So, we were able to up-date the blog and check e-mail—quickly. We didn’t have much time.
Then, it was time to check out our dinner options. Dinner in Italy starts around 8:00, although a few places were open a little earlier than that. A few of the Rick Steves suggestions were closed for the season, but we found one of his suggestions, Pizzeria Vulnetia, on the piazza, open and with quite a few other customers. Joseph started his meal with a local specialty, fresh anchovies. He was in heaven! John tried them too, which was really big since John is not known for an adventurous eating habits.
After dinner, we started chatting with the couple at the next table, a couple from North Carolina. She was a school principal, expecting to visit the local school the next day. We had a lovely chat with them and then it was time to return to the room, get packed and get off to bed. Wednesday would be another long travel day, this time to Geneva.
We are in Geneva now, as we write, but our Geneva story must wait!!
Hope all is well where you are.