A slight diversion from ‘the plan’, we turned north out of Viareggio instead of south and went to see for ourselves this place that people kept insisting we see. “You really must visit the Cinque Terre”, they would say, “It’s gorgeous. Bellissima!”. We hadn’t even heard of it! Though we later found out, after enquiring about the number of Australian tourists, there was a large tourism drive in Australia a few years back, including a 4 page spread in Women’s Weekly (must have been after we left).
So, dreams of the Amalfi Coast will remain dreams for now, a new jewel is to be explored by the Orchid Crew.
Beautiful…INDEED! It’s the coastline of Italy I have imagined. 5 colourful villages clinging to sheer, rocky cliff faces, linked by a scenic train line and the sea. Agricultural methods are traditional and these 5 communities, although flooded by tourists each year, could in fact still exist self sufficiently. Lonely Planet says,”These preposterously constructed, stuck-in-time villages cling to the steeply terraced cliffs that form one of Italy’s most spectacular stretches of coast. Five higgledy-piggledy villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – are cut off by mountains choked with olive groves and dry-stone-walled vineyards, where farmers have eked out a living over the centuries.”
The Cinque Terre became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997, thank goodness. Wine growers still use monorail mechanisms to ferry themselves up, and the grapes down, these unique lands, and in some cases have to harvest by boat. If the terraced hillsides are not worked, they will quite literally slide into the sea.
There are walking paths between each of the villages, which they close if numbers get too high in the busy season. Unfortunately 1 is closed at the moment, cut off by a landslide but we anchored beneath instead.
We did walk 2 of the paths, Via dell Amore (Lover’s Lane) and through the vineyards and olive groves between Corniglia and Vernazza. It was spectacular!
The region is also famous for it’s basil and lemons. Producing limoncello and a co-op has been set up for farmers of the area to profitably grow basil, garlic and pine nuts to produce the renowned local pesto.
Whilst in the Cinque Terre we met 3 special people, on a mission from the US to Serbia. They stayed with us overnight and we spent the better part of 24 hours together righting the world. It was wonderful to share such a bond in such a short space of time.