Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cinque Terre by Margot Justes

Cinque Terre is in the rugged Liguria region of the Italian Riviera. Rugged indeed and stunning. Cinque Terre is a national park, and protected by UNESCO, and is most assuredly worth a visit. We stopped in three of the five villages, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso.

I would love to go back and stay a few days, but I was happy to have spent a bit of time in each village. The ship docked in La Spezia and from there we took a ferry to our first stop, Manarola. The village is  set atop a rock outcrop, with medieval hamlets perched on the rocks.  The bedrock juts from the soil and sea below. The effect is stunning.

Cinque Terre has become a popular tourist destination, and you will find the necessary souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes. Yet it retains an old age charm, with small fishing boats moored on the street, sort of like parking a car, except they’re boats. We has enough time to walk down the main street and a few narrow avenues that further defined the charm of the village.

Our next stop was Vernazza, the villages are similar, yet have a unique flavor all their own. Towering buildings flank narrow alleys, and they lead down to a magnificent bay. I stopped for a espresso in a cafe overlooking the bay. The coffee and view were sublime. The walk along the narrow streets, and the main tourist area was relaxing and you forget everything except the sheer age and natural beauty that surrounds you.

From Vernazza we took the local train to Monterosso. The village is a bit bigger, and more  touristy. I stopped for lunch at a restaurant with a fantastic view of the sea, and the best seafood pasta I’ve ever tasted. Pasta was cooked al dente just the way I like it, and the seafood was incredibly fresh, and the tomato sauce was light and well seasoned.

Along the way, we tasted some of the local wines, and amaretti con limone cookies; the Monterosso specialty-macaroons made with lemon, and some delicious Pesto, served on a piece of toasted Italian bread, and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

It was a long day, and well worth the effort. The views were stunning and unspoiled.

Margot  Justes
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