Friday, October 28, 2016

Ferry to Sardinia

We bid arrivederci to Cinque Terre and head off to Sardinia for another adventure.  We catch the Moby ferry to Sardinia in Levanto, just below Pisa and approximately 132 km (82 miles) from Monterosso.  We decide to take the overnight ferry to Olbia, scheduled to depart Levanto at 23:50 (11:50 pm for us Americans) and to arrive in Olbia at 7am the next day.  We book two cabins and are set for our first big ferry trip.  We've seen the big ferries in ports in France, Greece, and Italy, but, until this time, have not had an excuse to take one.  Now we do and we're looking forward to it.

To get to Levanto, we hop on an afternoon train from Monterossso to La Spezia and connect to another train heading down the coast.  At the Levanto train station, we take a local bus (Levanto bus line number 1, 1.2 euros) for the trip into Piazza Grande in the center of town.

But, prima (first), before the ferry, dinner.  We enjoy a Diet Coke in Piazza Grande and Laura wanders off the Piazza to see what she can find.  Two blocks away, behind Il Duomo (the cathedral), she finds Ristoro Cafè Duomo and we wheelie over to another incredible meal in Italy.

  Il Duomo in Piazza Grande, Livorno

 Grand covered walkways and marble sidewalks near the piazza

Dinner consists of an antipasti plate with salami, prosciutto, pecorino, olives, tomatoes, and mozarella, with peperoncini oil and balsamic.  We follow that with shared (family style) tomato and ricotta over penne and pizza with porcini and sausage.  Accompanied by a rose prosecco to start and a great chianti with the main courses.

Pre-ferry dinner

But, I digress, this blog entry is about the ferry.  We take a taxi from Ristoro Cafè Duomo to the ferry terminal and are dropped off at the cafè where the ferry pulls in.  Our ferry is apparently late and we have another bottle of prosecco as we wait. 

 Ferry to Olbia here, cafè across the street

Eventually our ferry pulls in and starts to unload - it is really big!

Ferry backing in and parked

We board, get our cabin keys, and head up to the top deck to watch the departure from Livorno (not much to see in the dark).  We're glad to have a cabin.  We see other people with sleeping bags and air mattresses lying down on the decks and in the stairways and hallways for their night. 

 Walk on board, find cabin

Then, it's time for sleep until the announcement awakens us about one hour before arrival.  We head into the restaurant for croissants, coffee, and Diet Coke, then stroll around the ship as we enter Sardinian waters.  Up on the top deck, we see that the people who spent the night in chairs on the deck or in their own sleeping bags look really cold!

 Sunrise as Sardinia gets closer.

And closer

We wander around the public areas of the ferry while waiting for the call for walk-on  passengers to disembark.

Around the ship

 Off the ship and through the terminal to the taxi stand

We hop in a taxi and head over to pick up our rental car at the airport on the other side of the harbor for the next phase of this year's Italian adventure.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Corniglia to Manarola to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

To complete our goal of hiking between all the towns each year, we have one more to go, Corniglia to Manarola to Riomaggiore.  The path along the sea is still blocked by landslides, so this itinerary will take us up into the hills and back down for each journey.

We catch the train from Monterosso al Mare to Corniglia and start up.

Heading up (again), which we love. That is where the views are! 

Once we reach the ridge, the path leads through vineyards and fields, with Corniglia becoming smaller in the distance and Manarola approaching.

 Heading along the ridge

Corniglia in the distance

Through vineyards and fields

The trail goes through someone's back yard

With great views of the terraced vineyards and the Mediterranean
(Monterosso in the far distance)

Soon, we pass through the small town of Volastra and take the stairs (many steps) down into Manarola.  Down is much better, the people coming up the stairs do not look happy!

 Stairs (down) from Volastra to Manarola

Passing quickly through Manarola, we start up the steep path from town.

Serious up again

 Followed by a similar steep descent into Riomaggiore, with more great views along the Mediterranean.

Final descent into Riomaggiore

Monterosso even farther away

Once we get into Riomaggiore, we wander over to the Via dell'Amore, the strolling path along the sea between Riomaggiore and Manarola.  The Via dell'Amore is still closed by landslide and blocked off to keep the adventurous out.

Via dell'Amore

We end our hiking day with a train ride back to Monterosso for an afternoon of swimming in the Mediterranean off the Monterosso public beach, followed by thoughts of dinner.  So many incredible choices.  Stay tuned for the next post!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Market Day in Monterosso al Mare

We walk down into the main square in the old town of Monterosso al Mare and find a real treat.  It's market day and the square is full of trucks and stands selling anything you could want, from kitchen appliances to clothing to fresh fish and produce.

Let's do a tour of the stalls and stands.

  Household linens, clothing, and accessories

 Fresh produce

Mushrooms and dried fish

Cheese and pesto


 Food to go:  rotisserie chicken and fried fish

The next day, there is a evening band concert in the main square of Monterosso's old town.  To accompany the concert, a meal is available in the square, fried fish (8 euros), pork sandwich (5 euros), or lasgne (6 euros).  A good deal and a great way to spend a warm evening.  We listen to the concert over a glass of wine overlooking the city toward the Mediterranean on our balcony at Hotel Villa Steno.

 Concert announcement and menu

 Bandstand set up on the harbor

 Cooking and serving

View across Monterosso from our balcony at Hotel Villa Steno

There is a lot going on in Monterosso and we never tire of exploring and discovering the riches of this city and region.