I know I promised the winners of the Brooks awkward running photo contest today, but I’m waiting to hear back on whether I can offer additional prizes to a few runner ups, since I’ve had such great entries to the contest! The post is ready to go so it will be up as soon as I hear either way. Thanks for your patience – it will be worth the wait!
And now, instead, welcome to the second to last Italy adventures recap! If you missed any of the previous recaps, check them out first:
- Small Town Italy: Pisa, Lucca, Sienna & Orvieto
- Italy Highlight: Rome
- Italy Highlight: The Food! (the comments section has a great discussion on healthy eating while on vacation!)
- That Time When a 4 Mile Run Turned Into a 4 Hour Run
- Elle & Rob’s Italian Wedding Weekend
Today I’d like to share pictures from our adventures in Cinque Terre, which was one of the big highlights of our trip, as it’s pretty much the coolest and most beautiful place on earth.
If you’ve never heard of Cinque Terre, it’s a rugged portion of the Italian coast that literally translates to “Five Lands,” for the five villages that comprise it. The five villages are, from north to south: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. They’re all really cute pedestrian only towns settled right in the hillside.
Matt and I stayed in Riomaggiore, which is the southernmost of the five villages and was probably my favorite of all of them, although Vernazza was a close second. They were seriously all so cute, though!
Matt and I only spent one full day in Cinque Terre, but two nights. We arrived late one evening and then had the adventure of trying to figure out what to do with our car – and then how to find our B&B in the dark and without internet or a phone!
The next morning, we were up bright and early to hike! The coolest part about Cinque Terre is that there are trails between all five of the towns and you can hike your way through them with stunning views along the way. There used to be some trails right along the water between the towns that were pretty flat/easy, but a lot of those were washed out during some flooding a couple years ago and are just now being rebuilt. As a result, the only way to get between towns is to hike the very hilly and strenuous mountain trails above the towns. They take a lot longer than the waterside trails but are stunningly beautiful. Matt and I were game!
We left Riomaggiore around 10 a.m. after breakfast and it took us about 2 or so hours to hike the first trail to Manarola. It was stunning and practically empty – this was the most rugged/poorly marked of all the trails and most people just took the 5 minute train instead!
We stopped in Manarola for a leisurely lunch before forging on for more. It was super cute. Love those narrow streets!
Next up – hiking from Manarola to Corniglia! This trail probably took us about 3 hours? We stopped for a coffee in one of the mini towns along the way.
I loved all the mountain vineyards we passed through! Everything was so beautiful.
When we reached Corniglia, we stopped for gelato, of course.
By this point it was probably about 5 p.m. and we were pretty tired, so we took a break and hopped on the train to Vernazza, the next town. Apparently the Corniglia to Vernazza trails aren’t among the best, so we were fine with skipping them! The train only took 5 or 10 minutes.
Vernazza, like the other towns, was lovely.
We considered sticking around for dinner, but we really wanted to make it all the way to the final town, Monterosso al Mare, and we heard that the trail between Vernazza and Monterosso was one of the best. So around 6 p.m. we decided to forge on for one last hike!
You know what’s insane? Matt and I were wondering along the hike about how people were able to tend the mountain vineyards, since they were often on really steep inclines. Our answer was found when we saw this contraption – it’s essentially a homemade mini-roller coaster that the vineyard workers ride up and down the mountain to do work! Isn’t that crazy?! The tracks it was on were SO steep – I wouldn’t trust this thing with my life! Yikes! We saw one in action later on.
One of my friends who emailed me recommendations about things to do in Cinque Terre mentioned a “lemon guy” that she found somewhere along the trail when she was there a few years ago. I figured there was no way we would find him and had completely forgotten about it until we were walking along at around 7 p.m. on the trail towards Monterosso and suddenly heard “Buongiorno!” to our right. Omg – it was the lemon guy!!!!
He hangs out along the trail all day selling his fresh homemade lemonade, limoncello, and wine to passerbys. Everything is organic and grown right around his hut – how cool is that?!
Clearly we were ALL over it. Matt and I shared some limoncello and lemonade and it was the best we’d ever had. SO fresh and flavorful.
We also bought a bottle of his wine to save for later on in the trip! He told us he makes only 600 bottles every year – he keeps 200 and then sells 400. That’s a LOT of wine to keep, lol!
Rejuvenated, we forged on.
And shortly after, we saw it – the final town! We had made it!
We arrived in Monterosso around 8 p.m., explored a little, and then headed straight to dinner. It was time to EAT! (Photos of our dinner were in my Italy Highlight: The Food! post!)
And to enjoy some wine, of course.
After dinner, we took a late train back to Riomaggiore and collapsed into bed, exhausted but happy. What an amazing and fun day and a big highlight of our Italy trip. If you ever get the chance to visit Cinque Terre, you should. I hope we can return someday!
I have one final Italy post highlight coming later this week or early next – Florence! Stay tuned.
Have you ever been to Cinque Terre? Or hiked anywhere similar?