Cinque Terre the part of Italy that time almost forgot. That is until the Republica di Genoa decided to continue the railway to Monterossi, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and finally Riomaggiore. This rugged mountainous terrain bordering "al mare", the sea was isolated from most of the world. Things were so bad for this area that many of the inhabitants were emigrating to survive. If only I knew then what I know now.
I had heard so many enchanting wonderful accolades about Cinque Terre. Which was why I put the 5 lands on our travel docket. I have to say all of the gossip is Undeniably True!!
But first, a little history. I know that the few of you enjoying this want more history!! So, here it is... A few thousand years ago, a lonely traveler named Pietro brought his family to this difficult desolate ruggedly handsome jungle of a place. Pietro saw a landscape he wanted to cultivate, grow grapes, and produce his delicious wine. And, that he did. In the Italian way, he worked hard, poured his sweat, his heart, and his love into the land. He began producing wine that became desired throughout the "old world". So successfully that remnants of his wine and their clay amphorae have been found throughout Italy, Greece and beyond.
Corniglia, where Joy and I stayed.
Pietro named the village he started after his mother, Cornelia.
Since then the production of wine has been a major source of livelihood for the people of this region. To be successful producing wine here one had to be a farmer, architect, expert builder, vintner and more. Since Pietro's day the area has been terraced with stone walls, beautifully braided groves of vines, ingenious irrigation systems, and trolleys to transport the tons of fruit produced every year. It is estimated over 2000 linear kms of stone walls, billions of tons of rock were used.
Beautiful terraced wine groves.
Fishing was a second source of industry for the area. Unfortunately, 5Terre had a reversal of fortune. Times were hard until..... Transportation. The railway from Genoa to Levante was continued on to Monterosso and eventually all of the 5 towns.
Beach at Monterosso.
The early 1900's began a rejuvenation, Cinque Terre was discovered and the world came in trainloads, boatloads, carloads, etc. Now in each town the most popular drink served and the catch of the day is the "tourist". Sardines are served in every restaurant and tourists packed "like sardines" abound in every train, piazza, ristorante, and Gelateria.
Vernazza, Tuesday street market, very touristy, lots of tchotchkes.
Today the most popular activity, while the farmers rest and the fishing boats sit in port, are the tourists hiking the paths in the Cinque Terre National Park from Terre to Terre . At 7.5 Euro per day this has become quite the cash crop. Our second day here Joy and I hiked the trail from Corniglia to Vernazza. A beautiful 1 1/2 hour hike up and down pretty rugged terrain of uneven rocks. Steep steps up and steeper steps down.
Corniglia in the distance viewed from the high mountain path.
Some courageous athletes hike 2 or more cities in a day. They are 40 years younger than us and I am proud of Mia moglie for hiking the trail without a complaint.
The next day at 7 AM I did the trail from Corniglia to Manarola solo. This was a 2 1/2 hour hike much more strenuous than the day before. When I finished my reward was shaky legs, hypoglycemia, anaerobic debt, and a beautiful cappuccino at a Manarola cafe for 1 Euro, about $1.10. Obviously, not Starbuck's.
Along the hike from Corniglia to Manarola. Manarola at 9:00 AM before the tourist invasion.
P.S.: Today, we jumped on the train not knowing where we'd go and landed in Pisa. Had a delicious pizza in Pisa and visited the Leaning Tower, very spectacular. I'm glad that we did it.