Day 18- Cinque Terre Hike and Train ride

Riomaggiore- the start of our adventure

Our night in Riomaggiore wasn’t the most comfortable, because the bed was 2 twin cots pushed together, and a drunk guy got lost on his way to his room and was yelling in the streets for about 30 minutes before his friends guided him home. Also, the church tower rang every hour and since the town is so tiny, it seemed like it was REALLY close to our windows. Regardless, we had a nice morning getting ready for our hike and finding fruit to eat for breakfast in Rio. We set out for the next town over, Manarola, at about 9:00. Manarola was not very far away, and had a cute main street leading down to a tiny rocky cove. We bought focaccia and some kind of sweet bread for breakfast, and walked around the next point only to find the trail to the next town was closed due to flooding. I guess last fall, there was a series of horrible storms that caused flooding and mudslides, wiping out the trail and much of the town of Vernazza. So, we had to take the train to our next 2 cities: Corniglia and Vernazza. In each city we tried to follow the trail out to see how far it would take us, but both were definitely closed. In Corniglia, there was a beautiful overlook where we could see all 5 cities; 2 in each direction. We took a bus up to the city because the train station is way below the city, but we were able to walk back down this amazingly long staircase to catch the next train to Vernazza.

Austin’s “Lord of the Rings” bridge

View of Monterosso from the trail

At the start of the trail to Monterosso


Vernazza was very different from the other cities we visited. It was most affected by the flooding. The main street’s first level shops were almost completely wiped out by flooding and mudslides, and many of the spaces were still under construction and in the clean up stages. We didn’t know this, or we might have eaten lunch in Corniglia, because there were only a few options for lunch in Vernazza. Also, our timing for getting there was fairly bad, because a million other tourists were getting off in Vernazza at the same time, and everyone wanted lunch. We found a pizzeria and Austin ordered pesto pizza while I got a margherita pizza. Things were fairly overpriced, but there were not many other options for takeout and we knew we had a hike in front of us. We ate pizza and people-watched on a bench overlooking a cute little harbor that seemed to be full of debris from the floods. The most entertaining figure had to be a buck-naked around 2-year-old little boy who was supposed to be wading in the harbor, but decided to run around the other side of the harbor with his parents frantically chasing along behind. There was also wedding at the church and in the main square while we were eating our pizza. There was a lot of cheering, and the bride and groom at one point stood at a 2nd floor window and threw candy to all the children attending the wedding. There were also hundreds of tourists attending their wedding J. The festivities were punctuated periodically by an air horn; that seemed to signal the occurrence of the main wedding events.

Cinque Terre

After a lunch break, we geared up for the hardest, longest hike of the day, from Vernazza to Monterosso. Our 3-4? Km hike started with a very steep ascent up lots and lots of steps, starting from Vernazza right at the water up to the top of the hills overlooking it. Then there were periodic ascents and descents going along with the contours of the hills/mountains. They felt like mountains, and we were fairly soaked with sweat by the time we reached Monterosso. Even though it was overcast and started raining as we got into town, we still walked around old Monterosso until we found someone who sold granitas (Italian shaved ice). I got lemon, Austin got strawberry.

We made it to the sea!

 After getting tired of waiting for the sprinkling rain to stop, we made our way down to the beach. The public beach in Monterosso had sand further up the beach, but was rocky from there all the way into the water. The rocks were fairly small, but I have yet to find an actual sandy beach. The positive part of this is that the water is incredibly clear. First we waded in the water, which felt so good after our long arduous hike. Then the sun came out and it stopped raining, and I decided it was worth it to get in the water, even though it meant I had to deck change under a little pier-like structure (I think it had private changing rooms on top of it, but it made a nice shade for our bags so they didn’t get wet in the rain.) I changed while Austin went to search for water (he didn’t want to get in the water since it was a little too cold outside for him). He discovered that we would possibly need to go to another station to buy our tickets for San Remo because the machines at the station were not working correctly. He informed me that I had 20 minutes until the next train left and we needed to take that one. So, I ran out into the sea, dipped briefly, and changed back into my clothes, only to find out that #1: the train we needed to take was 10minutes late, and #2: that the machine was working and so we could buy tickets at that station. So, my haste was really for nothing. We ended up buying tickets for a train that left a little later, but it gave Austin time to call his friends in San Remo to alert them as to what time we were coming, and time for me to put my backpack back together as it was a little disheveled since I had to hurry and change in order to not miss the train.

Now we are on our second train, from Genova to San Remo. Austin is excited to see his friends, and get fed an incredible amount of really good food by all the generous members that overfed him starting 4 years ago this week!
P.S. Want to lose 10 lbs? Go to Italy on a budget, eat less food (lots of picnicking with supermarket food/small meals), wear a 50 lb pack and walk around ALL DAY. Austin is looking very trim lately, and I have maintained my weight by constantly eating (the baby has gotten A LOT bigger though). 

One thought on “Day 18- Cinque Terre Hike and Train ride

  1. I thought Austin looked a few lbs lighter:) Also have been watching your baby grow by what looks like alot in the photos! It will be exciting to be with folks Austin spent time with – hope you both really enjoy!


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