The final Italy post, full of cats! Armed with our Cinque Terre train cards we left La Spezia for the first of the five villages, a seven minute train journey to Riomaggiore. The town was small and very sleepy at 10am. I couldn’t help thinking how lucky we were to have such an iconic location (almost) all to ourselves on a sunny day. We saw just one other tourist and a few old men outside a café so we got some quick pictures and jumped back on the train to the next stop, Manarola.
Manarola was a little more lively although still very quiet for one of Italy’s biggest tourist destinations. In summer I bet you can’t breathe for cameras and bumbags!
We were planning to walk a fair bit of the track between the towns but we discovered the first three tracks were closed to prepare for the summer hoards, so effectively we narrowed down our walking tour to the final leg of the trip. Knowing we had a two hour walk ahead of us we skipped past the third town, Corniglia, and headed straight to Vernazza. I really liked this one. It had a lovely vibe, Sunday mass was in full swing in the church perching on the harbour and we grabbed a focaccia to energise us for our walk to the fifth and largest Terre, Monterosso.
We started the slow climb up the hill at around midday and, in a muggy 17°C, we were sweltering. The path was well maintained but very steep and narrow at times and I would recommend future walkers have a good level of fitness and good shoes, especially if you are carrying 10kg of luggage on your back!
It was so nice to be out doing a bit of bushwalking. There were lemon trees everywhere, olive trees, vineyards and at the halfway mark, a picnic area full of cats. What luck. In a way it was slightly creepy, kind of like the scene in Batman Returns where the cats are crawling all over Michelle Pfeiffer’s kitchen. But on the other hand, cats! And they had a bucket of tinned food with a message for walkers to ‘feed the homeless and unloved cats’. We had a pat and kept marching on.
The steep descent into Monterosso was harder than the climb out of Vernazza and we arrived sweaty and with wobbly legs at a lovely looking seafood restaurant. We treated ourselves to marinated anchovies, mussels and seafood. The mussels were stuffed with breadcrumbs and herbs and were divine!
It was nice to explore the little winding streets of Monterosso behind the beach which was sadly just a tad too cold and windy for us to luxuriate on.
We left the Cinque Terre with aching calves, full bellies and lots of fantastic photos…and probably a few cat fleas as well 😉