13 November 2014

Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre

When I went to Pisa for the second time last June, I made it a point to discover a different part of Italy from the places I have already been to. Since I was based in Pisa this time, and since I already have a good grasp of the things to discover in Pisa, I opted to venture out, this time, heading to Liguria. Back in March, my partner and I thought of visiting this place, but it seemed that Cinque Terre National Park is only open during the summer, and so March was a bad time to visit. But I went back in June, so I took the train to La Spezia, and from there, headed off to hike the trails that link the Five Lands of the Italian Riviera.

At La Spezia station, I found the tourist office, which sold me a day ticket for the whole Cinque Terre National Park. It allowed me unlimited rides for the trains, as well as other local public transportation. I opted to go to the westernmost town first, which was Monterosso al Mare. This is the least picturesque of the five villages, and this is where I started my hike.

As you can see, this is a beach town. All the necessary equipment for bathing at the sea are all set up here. However, the weather wasn't that hot yet, which meant that the water was still cold, and there were still few people venturing into the water. That also meant that the weather was perfect for hiking, as one would sweat, yet the cool air refreshes one during the endeavor. I set out towards the east, slowly departing the beach area behind me. If you look closely at my pictures above, you might see one or two bathers, but not much more than that. The next town is Vernazza, which was a couple of hours away.

Funny, the hike was categorized as an easy hike, if I remember correctly. However, I read from forums before that it was actually not easy, and therefore I came prepared and went there with my hiking boots. In my opinion, it was actually a moderate hike, and so if you are inexperienced with hiking, then you might find yourself huffing and puffing every now and then. Bring lots of water! Strangely enough, I saw some people hiking with flip-flops, and I could only shake my head. After all, the trail was wet at some parts due to the rain the night before, and the trail is also on the side of a cliff, so slipping can be a very dangerous affair.

Anyway, after about an hour and a half, the village of Vernazza slowly appeared.

Vernazza is a very pretty village, and in my opinion, the prettiest of the five villages along the coast. It is especially impressive when you're hiking and you slowly see the fruits of your labor. This is where I had lunch, and refilled my water supply. It is a nice little town to explore, but after an hour, I headed to the train station and took the train to Corniglia (the trails from Vernazza onward were closed at that time due to landslides).

Corniglia is located on top of a tall hill; there is in fact a shuttle bus that takes passengers from the train station to the village, which I conveniently caught when the train arrived. But coming back, I opted to walk from the village to the train station. This is a small village, as usual, and less touristy than the other villages. I suppose because there is no sea access. What this village offers, however, is a good view of the other village, Manarola, which can be seen just across the bay.

After taking in the view of Manarola, I opted to get some ice cream and head back to the station. When the train came, I opted to skip Manarola (it was getting late) and instead I went directly to the last village, Riomaggiore. This was a fairly large village compared to the others, and I opted to walk around, and even eat some street food (fried seafood freshly caught from the ocean).

Overall, it was a great day trip. As much as I like visiting museums and art galleries, I also like to do outdoor activities like hiking and trekking. And this place was perfect for it. The scenery was superb, and the experience was definitely recommendable. Try to do this if you have the time, it makes for a great experience. And try to bring a good camera too!

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