Day 9 - Welcome to Cinque Terre
Halfway mark on our trip. On our way to Cinque Terre, we took a side trip to Pisa to see the leaning tower and to tour the Sinope Museum, the Cathedral of Pisa, the Camposanto Monumental Cemetery and the Baptistry of San Giovanni. The architectural shape of the baptistry, dated 1152, creates a fabulous reverberation of sound. The acoustics are so lovely that each hour on the half hour the doors are closed and the staff demonstrates this with a short musical performance. Visitors also often take the opportunity to sing in this amazing place. The road leading to Cinque Terre followed a dramatic downhill with many hairpin turns which our driver, Stefano, mastered with ease. Cinque Terre is the name of a group of five fishing villages, laced together with hiking paths that meander betweens vineyards with spectacular views of the Mediterranean. We left the bus and took a train to the first village named Monterrosso. We followed Donald through the town to our hotel which was perched high above requiring walking up several rustic, stone stairways lined with citrus and olive trees. The views were well worth the effort and, luckily, the tour arranged for our bags to be delivered by taxi. They really thought of everything! After checking into yet another beautiful hotel, Donald led us on an orientation stroll. Our group met for a glass of wine on the hotel rooftop courtyard and then on to dinner at Hotel Pasquale. Within the hotel was a small restaurant owned by a husband and wife team and their son. The husband served while the wife, also head chef, gave us a pesto making demonstration. The first course was a white lasagna topped with her homemade pesto… mmm! We enjoyed our walk home after dinner watching and listening to the kids of Monterosso playing.
Day 10 – A day on our own in Cinque Terre
After watching the Rick Steves show on Cinque Terre, it became one of places we most wanted to visit and were never disappointed. A thunder and lightening storm in the morning quickly gave way to a beautiful day. We were given a train pass so we headed to the furthest village called Riomaggiore. We climbed steep roads and hillside trails for a few hours to the highest point where we enjoyed stunning views of The Mediterranean. Back on the train, our next stop was Manarola. It sounds crazy, but we kept bumping into members of group everywhere we went. We’d stick together for awhile and then separate again – nice! In Manarola, we took another hillside hike known as the vineyard trail. The afternoon was almost over so the other two towns, Corniglia and Vernazza, would have to wait until a future visit in lieu of getting back to Monterossa in time to take a swim in the Ligurian Sea. It was so refreshing and relaxing… a highlight of the trip. We drank a bottle of delicious, local Cinque Terra white wine up on the rooftop courtyard of the hotel while listening to the church bells tolling, taking in the views and catching up with friends and family on the phone. Ristorante Via Vente was our choice for dinner on our own.