We awoke in Massa, Italy (Just down the coast from Cinque Terre) on a glorious Easter Sunday morning. The church bells were ringing, the birds were tweeting, the sea was….waving?!?
The plan for the day was to visit Cinque Terre. I’d never even heard of it – but Chris had spotted it online and it was on his bucket list – this was after all our “I’ve seen it on facebook and it looks nice” trip. Okay lets go!
Now, my very first mistake was made. I’d stupidly decided as it was Easter Sunday – I’m putting me best clothes on….including heels. Massive huge mistake. You 100% need comfies I later realised – and also wondered why people were pointing at the only mental woman in five villages to wear heels. I did end up buying some flip flops in Manarola FYI. But I digress.
We were off! Right first job. Try park the car. Hard work. It was a sunny day in Italy – every single person had the same idea as us. Nevermind we will persist. We are Brits. A queue and wait is easy.
Half our later we were parked. Right now lets get to a train.
Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of five pastel coloured villages built on and into steep cliffs, and you can only get around the five villages by train or boat (If you suffer from travel sickness but still want to come see please read this).
It was dead easy and the cashier explained what we had to do to get round them all and the train timetable. The price was €31.50 for a day ticket for a family and trains were around every 20 mins to 30 mins max.
Got on the train – arrived in our first Village….Which was Riomaggiore. Wow. It was like walking into a postcard. A postcard with crowds but a postcard nonetheless.
Then we decided – its well packed here cause its the first village – lets move onto the next…. Manarola….cue the queuing to get onto the train.
Got there and Manarola was my favorite to look at undoubtedly. So picturesque. Everywhere was just beautiful. The sky complimented the sea and the pastel buildings. Just awesome.
We decided on a quick beer and gelato to keep us all going and have a sit and admire the surroundings.
Time was passing quick and we had three more villages to get through so we decided to move on. This was quite a challenging crowdy style queue which my husband vented at an Italian for not following the strict unwritten rules of queuing and had his obligatory holiday near arrest. I won’t forget in the tunnel that good humour was made of the queues by people mooing pretending we were cows being herded onto the train. It made us chuckle.
We eventually left Manarola to head to Corniglia.
On the train we decided not to get off because the kids were already moaning of tiredness from walking and heat and as the train arrived in Corniglia station we could see it was a huge hill to get up to it – so we decided to keep going onto Vernazza where and grab our dinner before having a look round. Of course it was pizza for tea. When in Rome and all that. My mouth is watering typing this – by eck them Italians know how to make a good pizza – who’d have known!
After dinner we had a walk around Vernazza harbour. Gorgeous.
The sun was lowering and dusk was coming….everyone was tiring….come on lets just crack on the the final village…Monterosso al Mare. This was my favorite village and I shall explain why. The crowds has disappeared, and all of a sudden everything became really relaxed and in beautiful surroundings Chris & I enjoyed a beer or *ahem* two….the kids played and made friends with Italian children in the playground next to the bar. All was good. Everyone was happy. I wrapped myself in a tablecloth as it had started to cool.
Its all good and well travelling and seeing everything, fitting it in, photos etc etc – but my favorite time is the peaceful reflection and relax at the end of it – and I think if you can manage to do that somewhere beautiful you have won.
Cinque Terre is ram packed, I won’t lie the crowds are insane – and at sometimes dangerous near the trains – so do be careful – but it is what it is. The place will give you what you want from it. If you want to chill somewhere and enjoy a view – you will find a spot. If you want good food – you will find a place. I wouldn’t let the snobbery found in a google saying its ruined put you off going at all. I do recommend it and it definitely is one of my favorite places. The kids loved it too.
So yersens over to La Spezia – get your day train ticket – and take in the surroundings yourself. I am sure you will love it.