27.05.2015 - 27.05.2015
Andrew and Bill slept well. I woke up in the early hours of the morning and watched an Italian slapstick humour film. I could not understand a word spoken but I did follow the movie – it was quite funny in that old fashioned slapstick way. It passed the time.
I saw a very large cruise ship dock at La Spezia from the vantage point of the apartment this morning. So I guess there will be a lot of visitors in the area today. We left for Riomaggiore at about 8.00am. It is on the famous Cinque Terre Coast. Cinque in Italian means five. So it is an area of 5 villages located on this stretch of rugged coastline. We took a wrong turn on the way and it took us forever to get back to the right road – it is the problem of the steep hills in the area. Nevertheless the diversion was very scenic – the hills are forest clad and very scenic. We eventually came to our destination. As always parking is the problem. Andrew takes responsibility for this. He drove back up the narrow steep road to find some parking beside the road. Bill and I waited at the village of Riomaggiore. When he got back we went down the steep road in the village to the Train Station. Here we spent a while trying to work out the time table. We eventually get the hang of it and waited for the train. There were a lot of pigeons in this area and the gulls (the big gulls you see in Europe) attack them quite viciously. We had planned to walk from Riomaggiore to Corniglia or if we were energetic enough to Vernazza. However the track from Riomaggiore to Vernazza was closed. So that is why we caught the train to Monterosso al Mare. The day had started out partly overcast but was now sunny – we had a brilliant blue sky. Monterosso al Mare is a beautiful place – bounded on the west by Point Mesco and by a whole series of inlets on the east. The sea was brilliant blue and a translucent azure near the shore. The steep hills behind are covered either in forest, vineyards, little orchards with houses clinging to the side of the hills. There was a wonderful array of colour. We watched a helicopter bringing loads of concrete to a house being constructed about half way up the hill. I guess that is the only way to get to the house.
We then started the walk on the track to Vernazza. It is a rough track with many many many steps. In some places it is so narrow only one person at a time can pass. Usually there is a steep drop at the side. But the views along the way are simply superb. It was like peak hour traffic due to the number of people doing the walk. They were of all ages. Some quite elderly (that is older than me)! There were a lot of Americans. I put that down to the cruise ship. It is actually quite a strenuous walk due to all the up and down. But everywhere you are rewarded with great views. We eventually came to a point overlooking (and I mean overlooking – the hills are so steep) the village of Vernazza. What a sight! Then there was the walk down steep steps to the village. The village was crowded with people. You can come by train, by boat or walk in as we did. All the cafes were packed with people. It is hard to realise that this was once just an ordinary fishing village were normal life went on.
We found a spot in the shade on the rocks next to the harbour and had refreshments. Andrew and Bill went for a swim. Surprisingly not many people were swimming – probably because water is still quite cool. I enjoyed sitting in the shade watching the goings on.
We then walked back. There were even more people on the track so there were a few hold ups. But as long as the holdups were in the shade you didn’t mind. It was quite warm in the sun – but beautiful in the shade. There were also a few dogs on the walk! Vanessa would like that!
When we got back to Monterosso al Mare we sat on the beach and Andrew and Bill had another swim. This time they swam up to a small sea cave and jumped from an overhanging rock into the sea. They enjoyed the crystal clear water. A great swim they agreed.
We then caught the train back to Riomaggiore. We found out we could have caught the train at Vernazza and saved ourselves the walk back. But we were glad of the extra exercise and of the opportunity for another swim at Monterosso al Mare. The train back was packed There is a chaos in Italy to most things but underneath there is also order. Once you see the order it makes it a lot easier. I think it gets back to the more laid back life style.
We visited the pretty little harbour of Riomaggiore before waking up the steep road to the top of the village. Andrew then walked up to where he had parked the car and brought it down to us. This would have been quite a climb. We then drove to the shopping centre in La Spezzia and got a few things and then back to the apartment. We had a closer view of the cruise ship on the way back – it was massive.
Andrew made us another great pasta dinner tonight which was a great ending to a great day. Bill took some photos in the softening evening light from the vantage points around the apartment. While taking photos he saw the cruise ship leave for its next destination.