Friday, November 6, 2015

Hiking Cinque Terre

Monterosso, Italy in Cinque Terre
Ever since seeing the Amalfi Coast of Italy for the first time in 2007, we have told anyone who asked - or anyone who would listen - that it was the most beautiful coast line in the world. On that day eight years ago, we set out from Sorrento in our rental car and navigated the winding, cliff-hugging road with a sweaty-palmed death grip on the wheel, stopping along the way to shop at a ceramics store that was literally carved out of the mountainside rock, buying lemons from a roadside vendor, and taking picture after picture of the spectacular scenery.  One picture in particular we turned into a poster, available for sale here at our Fine Art America photography website.

Our poster of Positano on the Amalfi Coast of Italy
But after our most recent vacation, there may be a new challenger to the title of "World's Most Beautiful Coast Line."  And it's no surprise that it's also in Italy.  It's Cinque Terre.  Cinque Terre ("The Five Lands") is made up of five villages - Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore - along the coast of the Italian Riviera in northwest Italy.  The area is an Italian national park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is highlighted by a series of hiking trails that lead from village to village, up and down the sloping hillsides.  We were staying in Monterosso, the northernmost village of the group, and spent nearly seven hours hiking through three of the other small towns.


The cliff-top village of Corniglia
We had heard of the hiking trails of Cinque Terre, but it turned out to be a much more strenuous hike than we expected.  Portions of the trail require scaling steep, weathered steps and climbing rugged, rocky terrain.  But those efforts pay off when you walk through the quiet vineyards and olive groves that line the landscape, ultimately leading to breathtaking views of the glistening waters of the Ligurian Sea (an arm of the Mediterranean).

Ann climbs some of the narrow
stone steps along the trail.

We made our way through Vernazza and Corniglia, ending our trek in Manarola.  The main trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore (the southernmost village) was closed during our stay.

Some of the vineyards that line the hillsides of Cinque Terre
The best views of the area are definitely from the trails, but almost as equally breathtaking is the view from the water aboard the ferry, which we rode back from Manarola to Monterosso.

Manarola as seen from the Ligurian Sea

Here's a video we made on the trail between Corniglia and Manarola, about five-and-a-half hours into our trek:

So what's the most beautiful coast line in the world: Amalfi or Cinque Terre?  We suggest you drive Amalfi and hike Cinque Terre and decide for yourself.

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