Friday, May 3, 2019

Returning to Cinque Terre, Hiking to Levanto

Cinque Terre, here we come:  hiking, dining, and fun.  We're addicted, returning every year and we will probably continue doing so for many more.  Cinque Terre is on the Italian Riviera, between Genoa and Pisa, and getting there takes all day (San Francisco to London, London to Pisa, Pisa to Monterosso al Mare, changing trains in La Spezia), a long adventure and well worth it.  We arrive in the evening and find a band playing outside the Monterosso train station.   We assume they're there to welcome us back, but find they are part of a religious procession working its way up the street and we move rapidly past the beautiful Monterosso beaches to get ahead of the slow-moving procession and reach our hotel, Villa Steno, where we are greeted and feel like family.

 Sunset from the train, La Spezia station in the late evening

 Band outside the Monterosso train station

Along the beach

 View across Monterosso from Villa Steno

The next morning, we rise and start off on a hike to Levanto, the next town north of Monterosso and the northern gateway to the Cinque Terre region.  We head up a few hundred meters and then across the ridges around Monterosso to the Mediterranean, where we will follow paths along the coast up to Levanto.

Heading up

Circling around Monterosso

As we hike the ridges from south to north around Monterosso, we get glimpses of Levanto on the other side of the ridge, still several hours away.

Levanto, in the distance

We reach the Mediterranean, north of Monterosso, and continue along the sea for another hour and a half or so, occasionally ducking into forests and up and down the ridges and valleys.  Time seems irrelevant here as we enjoy the scenery, the weather, and the trails.

 Along the Mediterranean

We round a final corner and find Levanto spread out before us.  We descend into town, walk along the beach, and start to think about lunch.

 Coming into Levanto

 Along the beach

Just a block from the beach, a row of shops and restaurants lines the edge of a small park and we settle in for 5 Terre Bruschetta (anchovies, tomatoes, and mozarella) and Focaccia Maya (ham, pesto, and cheese), accompanied by a small carafe of local white wine.

Bruschetta and focaccia

Hopping on the train back to Monterosso, we emerge into the beautiful seaside setting, a very different sight from our earlier view up above on the ridges around the town.  And, arriving back at Villa Steno, we can now see clearly across town to the Mediterranean, complementing the nighttime view on our arrival.

 Monterosso seaside

Daytime view across Monterosso from Villa Steno

We're back!

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