If you haven’t heard of Cinque Terre, you’re not alone. It’s only within the past so many years that this chain of five Italian towns on the coast of Tuscany started being marketed as a popular tourist destination. Cinque Terre is a gorgeous little group of 5 towns that are linked by sea-side trails. They are all small and only a little touristy, and considered a national park in Italy.
We took the train from Pisa to a town near the beginning of the towns (La Spezia), and then took another regional train from there to the first of the five towns. It was a bit complicated in all, but my mother figured it out for us. (I think with the help of our favorite, Rick Steves). The first and second towns are connected by a 20 minute pathway, called the Via Dell’Amore, or the Pathway of Lovers.
It was along the sea and absolutely beautiful. There are several places on it that have areas for lovers to put locks with their names on them.
We followed this old Italian couple for most of the walk. I swear they were the cutest thing ever. They looked like they had just come from mass or a wedding and decided to take a stroll down the Via Dell’Amore! Oh my lanta, I just about died because they were so cute.
Rick Steves gives a short tour of each of the towns – and we did the walking tour of the second town, Manarola. It was super interesting since Rick always provides really awesome random details about the towns that you would never know otherwise.
For instance, when these towns were first built, graveyards were considered a health hazard and were always outside the city walls. The cemetery here had in-wall-crypts and after each generation, they were emptied and any bones or dust is deposited into the floor of the chapel and the crypts are used for the next generation (of the same family usually). There are lots of fresh flowers are the graves, and they are all accompanied by a photograph of the deceased. Since the towns are so small, and hardly anyone married outside of their town until the paths were built to connect them – families of generations and generations live in the same towns and care for the graves of their ancestors.
Rick also told us about a man who owns quite a bit of land in Manarola for grape vines – fields and fields of them – and his dad had started erecting light-up religious scenes in his fields. Think: outline of a nativity scene, palm sunday, the cross, etc. His son promised to keep doing it, and there are something like 100 figures on the hillsides of these grape fields. It’s really cool. The one that is different, however, is a silver figure of Jesus on the cross. This is the only one that I saw) that doesn’t light up, and is just a sculpture.
We also spent time down at the shore since my sister just had to touch the Mediterranean sea. Which in fact, was not technically the Mediterranean – its the Tyrrhenian Sea. (I think.) So we found a part of the port in Manarola and ate focaccia bread (AMAZING), and climbed on the rocks nearby.
I don’t think this truly exemplifies our relationship. It would be more accurate to have her pushing me off the rocks.
Finally we had to leave, but we all agreed that Cinque Terre was our favorite part of Italy, and I wish I had known more about it, and I would’ve cut other things to spend more time here. I told my mom that I would love to take another vacation in Cinque Terre, but knowing me I’ll probably only be able to afford a week at the Jersey Shore. Oh well. :) I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit here for a few hours – and if you are considering going to Italy at all… DEFINITELY do Cinque Terre. You won’t regret it.
If you are interested in seeing more pictures- which you should be, because this place was GORGEOUS… here is the link to my album for Pisa and Cinque Terre on facebook. It’s a public album, so there should be no problem looking through them. :) www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151711664190529.850396.842835528&type=3&l=eb72f4a519