Running away to Cinque Terre
I ran away to explore the world at the tender age of 18 and even though I’ve yet to come across a country that owns me like Ireland. I always feel at home when I’m in Italy.
Italy is a country that I adore, she has it all; coast, mountains, skiing, sunbathing, great food, art, history, culture, show-stopping architecture. Add to that, that the Italians know how to party and you’ve got a recipe for happiness!
So, at just two hours flight from Dublin, I’m never one to refuse the opportunity to get my ass to Italy. Lately, I’ve become a fan of the walking holiday. After my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago last year I got hooked so I researched other famous walking routes across Europe. This is when I came across Cinque Terre – a UNESCO world heritage site on the northeastern coast of Italy, between Genoa and Pisa.
The literal translation is ‘Five Lands’ and that’s exactly what it is. The rugged coastline draws a U-shape with five darling towns dotted along the edge. Almost looking as though one little shake could topple them over into the Ligurian sea.
Arriving in Monterosso I got my first view of the sea so stopped to take a few moments to deeply inhale the fresh sea are and absorb the views. The streets are cobblestoned, buildings are all painted bright pastels with smiling locals. The November sun was a glorious treat.
Enjoying a coffee while sitting on the boardwalk out on the sea it felt like a million miles away from the dull November back in Dublin. Life moves at a slower pace in Italy and a step slower again in Cinque Terre.
After taking the local train from Monterosso (the northernmost of the five towns) to Riomaggiore (the southernmost of the five towns), I arrived to walk through a tunnel along the Via dell’Amore (the Way of Love). You have to hand it to the Italians; they do love an auld bit of romance. It’s clearly one of the most beautiful coastal walks in the world, so they named it aptly, don’t you think?
Soldiering on up through the inclining town of Riomaggiore, I got myself to the top. The climb, awful as it is, was so worth it. The views from my hotel room balcony were so perfect it was like staring at a postcard.
Up and out early the next morning I had plans to walk the full length of the boardwalk from Riomaggiore through Manorola, Corniglia, Vernazza to finish off over lunch in Monterosso before getting the local train back to my hotel in Riomaggiore. It didn’t quite go according to plan (the best adventures usually don’t). The stretch of the Via dell’Amore boardwalk between Riomaggiore and Manorola is closed off for repair work so it was up and over the hills with me.
The hills are seriously steep so the climb is challenging but the reward for this is every time I looked over my shoulder the views got better and better and the sense of achievement gets stronger and stronger.
The climb down from the peak into Manorola is very steep too.
Equally Beautiful Yet Individual
Although all five towns look alike they each have their own distinct character. Manorola has tiny winding streets – if you stretch out your arms you can reach the houses on both sides.
There is a beach in Monterosso but, Cinque Terre isn’t a beach holiday. It’s purely all about the walking routes and the views and of course, wine. All the locals grow grapes in their gardens on the hills so, every shop, restaurant, and hotel sell wines produced with their very own hands. There’s something very beautiful about that.
There’s a lot to be said for the walking holiday versus a beach or partying holiday. This could be due to the fact that it’s just that I’m getting old! The thing about a walking holiday is when you get home you feel completely refreshed and revitalized. It’s almost like being out in the fresh air all day scrubs out the brain of clutter and stress. As if every step you take is a step further from your troubles. Something that gives you that result is certainly worth trying.
My holiday was booked through OneFootAbroad.com who supplied me with all my maps and walking notes and advice on which walk to choose on certain days. They also provided me with an emergency contact number, which is always a welcome addition. It cost €300.
I flew with Ryanair to Milan and paid about €150 for return flights.
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