We’re on our way back to Cinque Terre in Italy, with a few stops along the way.
We’ve been visiting the five towns of Cinque Terre (Monterosso Al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore), small fishing (now fishing and tourist) villages on the Mediterranean every year for quite a while now. The friendly people, the great hospitality, the beautiful scenery, the tremendous seafood – we just keep coming back, sometimes as a destination and sometimes stopping briefly on our way to other places.
We always stay at the Hotel Villa Steno in Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost of the five towns. Matteo and Carla, who own and run the hotel, are friendly, knowledgeable, and make a great café latte! They work really hard to assure that everyone has a good time and still have the time to stop and chat. We truly enjoy their hospitality and have become good friends over the years.
View across Monterosso from Hotel Villa Steno
In Cinque Terre, we hike! From Monterosso, we head north across the hills to the north to Levanto, up and across the tops of the hills to the more-southern towns of Manarola or Riomaggiore, along the lower paths to Vernaaza and Manarola, or, the longest and our favorite, from Riomaggiore south to Portovenere.
View of Riomaggiore from the top of the hills
Each of these hikes is 3-5 hours long, with great views, a glass of wine and a meal at the end, and a train ride back. For example, when we reach Portovenere, we have a leisurely lunch, take the ferry across to La Spezia, wander through the market day stalls (if we get the timing right and arrive on Wednesday or Friday), and catch the train back to Monterosso. This fills the day will good exercise, great sights, fabulous food, and much variety.
Along the path to Riomaggiore
Along the way, we meet truly interesting characters. As we climb up the hill toward Levanto, we find, sitting on a rock, admiring the view, a man who walked from Switzerland. He recently retired from his job in the Swiss air traffic control union and his wife still worked, so he decided to start walking from Zürich. He made it through the Alps and down to the Mediterranean and was continuing south.
But first, a stop in the Dolomites.