The Cinque Terre (see my previous post) is a popular holiday destination not only because of the five fabulous villages and the extraordinary terraced hillsides but also thanks to the National Park and its network of marked hiking trails.
There are walks of all levels to choose from. Some travel by the coastline and are more like paved paths or sidewalks than trails. Others rise up the hillsides treating you with breathtaking views down towards the sea and the villages. There is even one taking you up on the hilltops from sanctuary to sanctuary.
Amateur hikers as we are, our plan was to walk the paths by the sea between Corniglia and the neighbouring villages. However, because of the heavy flood and mudslides caused by the torrential rains of October 25, 2011 both the coastal trails were still under repair and closed. So we ended up taking the trail through the vineyards behind the church of San Pietro up towards the mountains.
The stony trail winded up the hillside with an occasional steeper patch of rough steps made of rocks.
|Wasn't I happy this creature was just a tree stump.|
It was rather a warm day in late April. Before long we were feeling hot. Luckily, the fantastic scenery and the blooming shrubs offered us plenty of excuses to stop every once in a while to take some photos. The few other hikers we met appeared to have the same approach.
The higher we climbed the clearer we saw the traces the heavy rainfall had left on the vegetation. Or at least we couldn’t think of any other reason for the enormous amount of trees that had dried out on the slopes further away from the sea. The flood must have flushed away soil from around their roots leaving them without proper nutrition.
Finally, we reached the spots with the stunning views down to our village Corniglia and the neighbouring Manarola (below). Too bad there was some haze in the air but I believe the photos will give you an idea of the height of the climb because I have to confess this was how far we hiked. We were thoughtless enough not to bring any picnic lunch, only something to drink, and had to turn back as we were both in need of some rest and starving.
Down in the village, we did get a bit carried away on the sunny terrace of the Er Posu Cafè – considering we were having dinner only a few hours later – ordering a tableful of antipasti: a huge bruschetta to share, a plateful of ham and salami, a plateful of cheese, and some vegetables to dip (the fennel tasted fantastic). For all I know, we must have had those with ice-cold beer and I am sure we finished the lunch with a caffè, that is an espresso. The time spent on the restaurant terrace was almost as delightful as the hike. Sometimes it is nice to be an amateur so you can be pleased with yourself for so little.
Hiking in the Cinque Terre is one of those things we absolutely want to try for real one day. Another glorious Italian location we have pledged to return to because of its fabulous sea views and great potential for outdoor activities even for an ‘unsporty’ old couple like us is the island of Elba in the Tuscan archipelago. (My post on Elba here.) I’m hoping writing these promises down will speed up the process and we might turn into (small-scale) hikers in no time. It will be just wonderful to hang out at places like this without any haste. Santiago de Compostela will have to wait.