We hopped on the train from Florence to Cinque Terre (more specifically from Florence to La Spezia to Manarola) and arrived in beautiful Manarola by lunch time. If you’re not familiar with Cinque Terre, let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. (Name that movie.) Cinque Terre means “the five lands” and is a region on Italy’s west coast that is made up of five towns, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The towns are connected by trails, the most well-known being the coastal trail, which supposedly takes 5 hours to complete (you can stop in each town along the way, though). We only did two of the four coastal trail segments because two were closed due to landslides the region experienced in October 2011.
We stayed at La Torretta in Manarola and it was the fanciest place we stayed on our trip, though it wasn’t outrageously priced (making it doable for us, yea!). It is a bit of a trek to get up to the little bed and breakfast, but boy is it worth it. This was the view that awaited us in our room:
Wow, right? Once we dropped our stuff off, we ventured out into the town looking for some lunch. We ate some delicious focaccia (apparently Cinque Terre is known for focaccia, among other things!) and then decided to wander around a bit.
We made it down to Manarola’s coastline and found this:
We meandered along the coast a bit and found a trail leading around the cliff (and away from the town) and even though clouds were starting to roll in, we started wandering down it. We later learned that this was the trail to Corneglia (which was barricaded off farther down the trail due to those pesky landslides), but we discovered a path that led right back to our hotel. On our mini-hike we were able to get a feel for what we would experience the next few days and it made us oh so excited!
If you have to die, what a place to be buried!
Manarola, from the trail – beautiful, right?
After our mini-hike, we washed up for dinner, which we ate in neighboring Riomaggiore. We took “Lover’s Walk” (the easy coastal trail segment connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola) to get there and just picked a place to grab our meal.
Our friends that we met up with in Florence (who had been to Cinque Terre before making their way to Florence) recommended getting the “little fishes” for an appetizer and we decided to do just that. They are little fish that are scaled and then fried whole. They sounded a little scary but they were fresh and delicious, so I’m glad we tried them. We had delicious pastas for our mains – I had linguine with pesto, which the region is known for and I was very pleased with my choice. YUM.
With full bellies, we made our way back to Manarola and crashed. We needed our rest anyway – we were planning to tackle the hardest of the coastal trails the next morning.