Lorenzo Pirisino

22nd/25th April - Cinqueterre, Wine and Friends - A brief account

Posted on 2006/04/28 15:21:28 (April 2006).

Cinqueterre was our choice of location for the 4 days national holidays that we had. I couldn't dream for a better venue and a better time spent with my friends from Florence!

[22nd April 2006] - Arrival at Cinqueterre

Cinqueterre is a place in Liguria, the region bordering with France and Tuscany, Lomabrdia and Piemonte. The name can be loosely translated as "Five Lands", where every "Land" is a city.

This place is very famous because the steep hills literally "fall" into the sea, making this territory quite inabitable (the total population of the smallest 4 cities nears 1000 people). In the years the inhabitants managed not only to make it worthwile to live in here, but they also managed to cultivate the land (olives and grapes mostly), building a clever system much similar to rice fields. It has been calculated that all the small walls that they built over they years are longer than the Chinese great wall!

Anyways we set off in the morning (5ish) to reach La Spezia around 9 where we had to meet with Francesco and Elisa who were coming from Pisa by train.
I was a bit worried about finding a good parking spot, but I have to say that it was rather easy and above all FREE!

We set off almost on time to reach our "base-land", the city of Corniglia.

Corniglia is the only city that doesn't have a direct access to the sea, you have to walk a steep path to reach the harbour.
This meant that from the station we had to walk with all our baggage to the center of the village, fortunately there was a comfortable bus that took us there.

After we took possession of our respective rooms (very nicely arranged), we decided to have a stroll in Corniglia to get accostumed with the town, after all we were waiting for Simone and Mariachiara who were late.
We decided to see the harbour, the nice village, the view from the city balcony and a first reconnisance mission at the local wine and foodstuff seller.

In Cinqueterre there is a small production of a GREAT wine called Sciacchetrà , made with mouldy grapes (a bit like Sauternes), and extremely sweet and refreshing.
Moreover Liguria is the region where Pesto originates from so we also looked into that...

Simone and Mariachiara arrived shortly after 1 o clock, and after they got ready we had a quick lunch based on the typical "Schiacciata Ligure" , basically a very oliy "focaccia" type thing, and strawberries.

Soon after that it was time for the fist walk, we decided to head towards Manarola for a 2 hour walk, and from there on the "path of love" towards Riomaggiore (and back to Manarola afterwards).
The walk was rather nice, lots of things to see, the view was breathtaking in many points. "Path of Love", where apparently lovers walk, was a bit of a turn down, there was a tunnel with a lot of graffitis written by the tourists, very cheesy pre-cooked phrases, nothing that a good subway cannot produce.

What was great on the path was the aperitif that we had watching the sun diving in the sea at sunset, and after that we moved back to Corniglia for a grat fish based dinner, then to bed.

The first day was certainly a good one!

[23rd April 2006] - The Path of Death

We set off quite early today, a nice breakfast at the local bar, and off for the first "real" walk of the holiday.
Our target was to get to San Bernardo, a small town with a nice abbey annexed, up hill. We could see from Corniglia the place, but we were not expecting such a long trip to get there.

Basically we crossed a forest until we reached a nice bit of grass under the sun. From there the walk continued for another good hour to reach our target. The view was rather breathtaking and it was worth the walk, so after another lunch based on Schiacciata ligure (and a rather evil sandwich with salted anchovies), we moved towards Vernazza, confident that the trip down hill would have been a lot easier.

Well, never prediction turned out to be so wrong! The path (if we can call it path) downhill was extremely narrow, terribly steep and quite dangerous in several places. More than everything it seems never ending!

After a couple of hours, a lot of swears, a couple of damaged feet and rock solid muscles, we arrived at out target, Vernazza, yet another nice and picturesque city in Cinqueterre.
There, to keep the tradition of eating something local we treated ourselves to a nice dinner, based on anchovies yet again, and with lots of great wine.

Before dinner we chilled out under the sun (chilled!?!?) for quite some time, me and Francesco spent quite a considerable time laughing at a guy who was trying to "park" the boat at the local harbor. A total idiot who nearly risked his boat, his life (by falling in the water) and his marriage (by screaming at his wife and forcing her to tide everything up while he was looking).

Either than that the walk remains, it was beautiful and tiering, thinking about it now it was worth it!

Back home (Corniglia) me, Francesco and Simone joined the local wine bar for a quick drink, the special wine that they make here (Schiacchetrà) was particularly good, we talked, laughed and finally we went to bed, ready for the next adventure.

[24th April 2006] - Taking it Easy

Memories (and pain) of the last day influenced quite a lot our plan today. We decided to go BY TRAIN to Manarola, to have a brief walk towards Volara, apparently the place where the wine happens to be made.

Volara was a short walk compared to what we have done before and infact it went down quite easily. Unfortunately there was no wine to be seen, so we had the lunch in the main square after visiting the local church.
We went back by bus, and here is where the adventure begins.
The bends of the street are quite sharp and it seemed that the bus had hardly any brake or shock absorbers, so the trip was a bit of a roller coaster ride, looking at the CHASM below and hoping that the driver wasn't drunk.

Once in Manarola we got the train to Monterosso, the last city that we didn't visit.

Here the plan was to go uphill again to see a monastery, but this idea was soon dropped for a more "conventional" bit of shopping and ice cream.
What we decided to do after visiting the city was to walk back to Vernazza instead!

Yet again Vernazza wasn't smiling on us (probably loughing AT us, but certainly not smiling ON us), as the trip revealed another biblical task, having to climb something like 3000 steps (not joking) and having to walk down pretty much the same amount while near the city.
Moreover the path looked incredibly long, alternating bits where even a cat would have had problems crossing, to bits where we were surrounded by NETTLE and generally spiked plants.

Extremely tired we then got the train back to Corniglia, where yet more steps awaited for us (381 following the guide), and finally we dived into one of the 4 restaurants and ate massive amounts of fish and pasta (as usual), drowned in wine and coffe!

Another brief stop at the wine bar, for more drinks, listening to the nice music of the same guy as before, and then off to bed.
What a day!

[25th April 2006] - Low Morale

It's a funny feeling. A marvelous holiday that draws to an end, it seemed as if we arrived the day before and today we were packing ready to tackle the traffic to go back to Vedano.

I can't find any bad points to this holiday, I have had a great time, great food, I have managed to spend 3 whole days with my friends (I never realized that I missed them so much, or maybe I did), great weather, nothing went wrong (apart from the unexpected paths that we had to walk).

And yet, "sadness oh hear!", it was over.

The faces at the last breakfast are self explanatory. nobody really wanted to leave.

We ate, did a bit of shopping, packed and off we went to catch the train to get back to the car. Fortunately the trip back home was quite smooth, we arrived at Vedano quite early and spent the rest of the day doing nothing (well actually me doing nothing... Marta cleaned the house 23 times), only to find myself packing again for the trip to Istanbul of the following day.

A strange feeling I said. I have left something in Cinqueterre (apart from some money) and that is my "social life". I seem to leave her every here and there, once in Japan, once in Florence (most of the times in Florence actually), once in Marche... But never up north where I live...

Oh well, there will be other times, I really hope that we manage to have other holidays like those, they are really bread and water for my soul.

Turkey here I am!

Comment 1

Wow - some really lovely pictures there Lox!

Posted by John at 2006/04/28 15:51:57.

Comment 2

What am I doing in England?!!!

Posted by Caroline at 2006/04/28 16:58:36.

Comment 3

Sounds like a great holiday! Certainly a stunningly beautiful landscape! I like the sound of the wine and anchovies, but I suspect that over here in the UK we probably don't get *real* anchovies :)

Posted by Nigel at 2006/04/28 21:28:38.

Comment 4

Very nice indeed. I gather your relationship with Marta has improved a lot. Pity you don't talk much about it. But that's perhaps a private matter...

Posted by Sheri at 2006/04/29 07:46:09.

Comment 5

Nigel: Anchovies were rather nice, but nothing compared to the Sciacchetrà wine that we had!

Sheri: Mmmmm wouldn't say, still murky waters there... Sometimes is good some other times I think too much... Oh don't get me started!

Posted by Lox at 2006/04/29 14:24:57.

Comment 6

I read this post through properly whilst going round on the Yamanote line yesterday - it's a great account of what sounds like a really nice holiday... While I was reading it I really felt like a million miles away from Tokyo!

I do slightly enjoy the irony of the fact that the very same thing that presumably drew you there in the first place (the dramatic scenery) turned out to be the only negative aspect of your trip. In other words - hills and cliffs make excellent scenery, but are a complete sod if you've actually got to walk over them!

I liked the picture with the church in so much, that I've got it set up as the wallpaper on my mobile now. Unfortunately it has to crop it rather than resize it though, which means my wallpaper is literally just the church (not the other colourful buildings below). So if I ever lose my phone, anyone finding it will probably thing it belongs to a catholic priest or something!

Posted by John at 2006/04/30 08:33:31.

Comment 7

John: Maybe you can resize it...? Oh well glad that you liked the post and the pictures, the scenery was so great that it wasn't hard to take good ones! The hills and walks were actually a nice part, we went there to walk a lot so no problem, it was a very nice part of the holiday, especially hearing all the comments that we were uttering every 10 seconds, I think we spouted more bullsht in 3 days than Berlusconi or Bush can do in 1 year (quite an achieevment!).

Posted by Lox at 2006/04/30 10:01:12.

Post a comment