April 17, 2011

Photo essay: Fall 2010 travels - Cinque Terre

This is the third part of a series of posts on my fall travels in 2010 to several cities in Europe. The first part was my iPhone cache of photos and the second part was my arrival in Florence. Here we have arrived in La Spezia (where we hotel'd) and Cinque Terre (where we train'd into every day).

Beautiful. Delicious (best food of the trip). Introduction to a love of anchovies (done right). Gelato (done daily).

Arrival in La Spezia. Choo choo!
Although we stayed in La Spezia, our main interest was visiting the "Five Lands", Cinque Terre. These villages run along the Italian Riviera, and are connected by a foot path right along the coast, and also by local train and ferry. The villages are called Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Monterosso, Vernazza and Riomaggiore are the largest villages (with populations between 1,000-1,600), while Corniglia and Manarola may accurately be called "fractions".

My first view of Cinque Terre is the steep streets of Riomaggiore. Pedestrian-only! Very quaint and picturesque. And it just keeps getting better...
You can't see it, but I just passed a bunch of gelato eateries. About €1 per scoop!
Apparently there is a village decree that all shutters must be painted green. One building missed the message, but still so pretty! What you do not see are the very narrow inclined streets between each "street", climbing up the hills.
Of course, we must have our outdoor cafe cappuccino and people-watching morning activites!
Via dell'Amore is a highly-accessible walk between Riomaggiore and Manarola.
As we stroll along Via dell'Amore, which runs along the very edge of the Italian Riviera, we notice some locks...
and numerous murals...
A few locks turn into many! Via dell'Amore is known as a haven for young lovers who wish to "lock" their love forever. The locks are inscribed with the lovers' names.
Personally, I would not consider Cinque Terre for a beach vacation. Here in Monterosso we have sand, umbrellas and lounge chairs, but most of the other villages just have large slippery and jagged rocks and cold water that hardy Speedo-donned Europeans do not mind frolicking in.

Ristorante Miky (Monterosso): This was the beginning of a love affair with anchovies. Here is a plate of anchovies done four ways.  Although all were delicious, my favourite was the simple way with a sprinkling of lemon juice.
Italian food at its best. Simple flavours brought out with olive oil, a touch of herbs.
Trattoria dal Billy (Manarola): My absolute favourite meal of the trip. This is one of our delicious dishes, a squid ink pasta with seafood. The restaurant overlooks the gentle hills just beyond Manarola. We enjoyed a romantic sunset, but we did not enjoy the aggressive mosquitos (which left lasting impressions for the rest of our trip).

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