Now that I am finally sitting, I can say that I am happily writing this post back at La Tortuga, enjoying my glass of wine and spuntini (snacks). But to be honest, my whole body is kind of aching.
After a seriously rough night of sleep (I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t fall back asleep until almost 6 a.m.), I convinced myself to get up and start my day. Luckily my mid-night rise provided me with some much needed suitcase organization and writing, so I didn’t have much to do before I packed up to check out and move to my new home. Conveniently just across the street from Pietre di Mare, I met Wanda in front of B&B Solemare, where she stowed my luggage for me until my room would be ready later that day.
And then I was off. I walked to the train station to purchase a hiking ticket for the day, and then headed towards the trailhead. Luckily for me, Monterosso al Mare is the first of the 5 towns in Cinque Terre, and therefore technically the start of the trail. (You can hike from any city in any direction, I just like the idea of starting from the very beginning.)
My first hike was from Monterosso, to probably the most photographically famous town in Cinque Terre, Vernazza.
I’m not going to sugar coat this, the hike was tough. I was huffing and puffing for all 2 hours of it. I actually saw several couples with either a baby or a toddler harnessed into a backpack, and I was thinking to myself, “how are you not dying right now?” But even though it was tough, it was also completely rewarding.
The hike took me through vineyards and lemon groves, and past little streams and wildflowers. It was truly breathtaking.
When Vernazza finally came into sight, I felt so happy and excited to start the downward portion of the hike. But I also felt taken back a bit, Vernazza is far more beautiful in person than it is in the pictures.
I had timed my hike to arrive for lunch, and I was big time ready to sit down. After a bit of walking around Vernazza, and getting a lay for the town, I decided against a sit down restaurant for lunch, and opted to create my own picnic.
just a cute Italian man playing the saxophone as I entered Vernazza
I picked up some cheese, nespole, prosciutto and mortadella from one market, a piece of farinata (think chickpea crepe) from a bakery, and brought it all to a little wine shop, where I ordered a glass of the local wine to enjoy with my food. It was perfection. And exactly the bit of respite that I needed from the sun and the mountains.
After lunch I wandered back to the port area of town, where I was surprised to find a lot of people swimming. Feeling a mixture of jealous and inspired, I decided to enjoy the water a bit too. So I slipped off my shoes, rolled up my pants and soaked my feet in the cold Mediterranean waters.
After some nice quiet time, I got myself ready and headed back to the trail to start my way towards Corniglia. Although this was not as tough of a hike, my body was sore and tired both from traveling to Italy and my earlier hike, so I was a bit slow on this one.
This hike was as beautiful as the first, but instead of vineyards and lemon trees, I walked through olive groves. It was such a special experience, and such an amazing way to explore Cinque Terre. I feel so lucky to have gotten to do this.
Once I reached Corniglia, I was welcomed by maybe 5 or 6 gelato shops. The gelato God’s were like, “Katie, you’re hot, you’re tired, eat gelato…” And I was like, “okay, I don’t need any convincing!” I got limone and the local honey and walnut, which was so good. Not too sweet, just creamy and savory.
I walked around the town, which honestly doesn’t take very long, but is just as cute as the other towns – colorful homes and shops, friendly people and beautiful vistas at every turn.
After my walk I felt very ready to head back to Monterosso, so I caught the local train, and headed directly to meet Wanda to check into my room. Wanda was so kind to make sure to tell me about all of the amenities (breakfast and a beautiful terrace) and answer all of my questions that I had about Monterosso.
After getting settled and changed, I headed out to my favorite spot once again.
So here I am, sitting and listening to the waves crash up against the rocks, and enjoying the sun on my face. It is so beautiful and so serene, what a blessing it is to be here in beautiful Monterosso al Mare. What’s next for tonight? Only the tides can tell…