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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Cinque Terre: Suspended Between Earth and Sea - Page 3

Written by Stacey Wallace
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Trail 8

At the end of hiking trail 8a, I come across the church of Santuario Madonna di Saviore, a grand structure overlooking the town perched high atop the cliffs. I stand for a moment in silence and admire the lightly-paved church and courtyard before I begin my slowly descent down into the last village of Monterosso. The sun is thankfully heading down over the west, and the heat of the day has passed its most damaging.

It takes another hour to reach Monterosso, and by this late stage the cooling waters of the ocean are far too tempting to pass up. I head straight down to the bay, strip off my shorts and shirt, and dive head first into the freshening waters of the Italian Riviera. Children and adults alike splash around in the water, and I even spot Michal and Rose further along the beach, lying face up on the sand, trying to tan their reddened skin. I decide to let the couple be, because I have just spotted a bunch of teenage boys nearby performing some acrobatic acts that I would very much like to attempt. So after some adventurously-stupid cliff diving down in the crystal blue waters of Monterosso Bay to lazily waste away the late afternoon, I dry off and ask other beach-goers for the train station. They direct me to the back of the town and I take the 5.34pm train back to Manarola.

When I reach my hotel, Carlo is in the small kitchen, preparing the meal of another couple waiting to be served out on the terrace overlooking Manarola. I order the scampi fettuccine for 7pm and head to my room to shower away the ocean and dust from my hike and to relive some of my amazing photos. With the fierce sun setting over the sea, transforming the sky into mixed blends of blue, orange and pink, I take a seat out on the deserted terrace and watch as the local fishing boats bob up and down with the calm tides down in Manarola Bay. Carlo serves my meal on a huge plate and leaves me to admire the view alone. With aching legs from hiking and swimming all day, I put my feet up and twirl my fork around in my pasta. The flavor is magnificent, just like everything else in this part of the world. With the chime of the church bell on the hour, I glance across at the tiny town of Manarola. There is just as much vibrant color in the buildings perched on the side of the cliff as there is when I gaze out across at the fading sunset. Cinque Terre is truly a colorful spectacle of the world.

Getting There: Pisa International Airport is the closest main airport to Cinque Terre, and from there trains leave hourly for Monterosso.

Permit – In order to walk the paths, you must first buy a Cinque Terre Pass from the tourism center in the villages train stations. This allows you to cover all trails and free train travel between the villages. Cost: 5 euro.
Itinerary – Many hikers start at either end towns (Monterosso or Riomaggiore) and hike their way east or west past all 5 villages in one day.

Duration – To cover all 5 villages in one day hiking the difficult trails, plus ample time to enjoy the individual villages, lunch and scenery, will take approximately 6-7 hours, depending on your level of fitness.

©Stacey Wallace

(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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