Bellissima Italia, The Cingue Terre

We have spent the past three days in this beautiful Italian Riviera, which is mainly the seaside towns of Santa Margherita, Portofino, Camogli, Rapallo and the Cinque Terre, plus many other lesser known small villages dotting the hillsides over this Bay in the Ligurean Sea.

We are staying in Santa Margherita, a perfect choice of Melanie our travel agent. The Hotel Continental overlooking the bay is a block from the main circle, the seaside ferries to other towns, the shops, the meandering cobble stone streets of the town, the train station and bus stops. It is a charming and sort of upscale town and the nicest of all the towns we have visited so far re things to see and do. Our private patio of our room where I am writing this has a bay view and the terrace for daily breakfast overlooks the bobbing boats and charming architecture. Views 1) from our terrace and 2) from other points for our hotel and 3 from breakfast terrace.

The first day here on Saturday we hiked the towns of the Cinque Terre. 1) We picked up the train and went 1.5 hrs to the furthest south-est town to work our way back north thru the five villages. We started at town #1 Riomaggiore (2,3 below) and walked thru the 4) Via Dell Amore, the tunnel of love. It was a simple walk thru a long tunnel with arches open to the sea. 5) Accordion music greeted us as we walked along and it was amazing. "What a wonderful day and experience this would be" I thought to myself.

Art in the Via Dell Amore

We then continued to walk to the next town, "a medium walk" they said. Well, designer sneakers and a false description of the walk made the next hour and a half tough. But we made it to the next town.

the second town, steep up and down but still an easy walk.

Still a fairly easy walk, you can see the road as it slopes gently up.

Getting to Corniglia town #3 above was not too bad either, tho paths were rocky dirt paths.,

We stopped for a gelato break. After all, I am sure we burned off more calories than this.

ok, see how high? Look just below my right arm, that is the makings of our path. Yikes.

higher and higher we walked.

This is finally approaching Vernazza, town #4. It took over an hour to get here and this is a low point our way down. Getting here was not half the fun, it was no fun. What was a regular road/path soon turned into a dirt path of rocks and stones going up up and then down down for 1 and half hrs. I was tired but even more, my feet were so sore and it was hard to stay balanced on all the rocks (But I still looked good, designer shoes and all). We passed hikers along the way, REAL hikers who were Austrian and German and Australian and had walking sticks and hiking boots and water and hats and, all in all, prepared. They were all so happy and loving every minute. They would sit at the side of the path and share a peach and water. To each his own, I say. I did not know that the normal person with common sense took the local tram or the train from town to town rather than the hikes between each of the five towns in the hot sun all day. Later as we re grouped for a cafe latte, the ladies around us just laughed at how nuts we had been. They were all relaxed and decent looking and happy during their touring.

The Cinque Terre are charming, no doubt about it. After the 4th town of Vernazza, we skipped town #5 Monterosso al Mare and we took the train home. Maybe next time. And we know how to get there now.

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