We revisit often one of our favorite spots in the world: Cinque Terre. We stay at Hotel Villa Steno (fabulous for location, accommodations, proprietors, staff, and service) in Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost of the five villages on the Mediterranean, just northwest of La Spezia. We try to make it here every year (Pandemic years unfortunately excluded) for fun-filled days of hiking, dining, and relaxing. Paths lead from village to village along the sea and, on days that we feel more adventurous, we follow trails up 600 meters (2,000 feet) or so and wander along the upper paths following the sea.
On arrival, we drop off our luggage at Hotel Villa Steno and finish the day with a short hike to Vernazza, the next town to the south.
The trail leads up from Monterosso's old town, heading quickly up to the ridge along the Mediterranean and then along the ridge for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours (individual speeds and times may vary) to Vernazza. Along the way are tempting views of the sea, the coast, Monterosso in the rear, and Vernazza ahead.
We've made this hike every year for over ten years and it never ceases to show us new sights and to offer us new delights.
Soon, Vernazza starts to appear in the distance, growing larger and larger as we approach, rounding corners and getting quick peeks of the city through the trees.
Entering Vernazza, we descend the steps through the narrow city streets to the piazza at the harbor, where people are playing in the water and relaxing in the cafes.
Catching the train back to Monterosso, we start to think about dinner and head over to Il Casello, sitting on their outdoor patio on the Mediterranean, enjoying the setting sun lighting up the town and the sea. We dine on anchovies "Ligurian style," stuffed anchovies, and penne with white fish.
What a great start to another magical stay in Cinque Terre!