We fell in love with Italy on our first visit in 2011, and it’s been our mission to return sooner rather than later. Last month, our wish came true, and we visited the Cinque Terre (pronounced CHEEN|kweh TEHR|reh) along Italy’s western coast. The Cinque Terre consists of five small fishing villages, connected by old goat paths, that cling to the cliffs and offer picturesque views of the Ligurian Sea. It was a magical experience to witness such beauty.

Destination: Cinque Terre | Italy | Europe

Traveled: April 2013

Strategy: Explore the five lands of the Cinque Terre: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Eat seafood and pasta. Drink wine.

Accommodation: Hotel Margherita | Monterosso al Mare

Adventures: Exploring the five villages, hiking the old goat paths, Via dell'Amore [closed on our visit, but we still secured our lock on the gate!], drinking wine on our hotel balcony, learning the regional railway system

Memorable Moment: Hiking Trail N. 2 (Sentiero Azzurro) from Vernazza to Monterosso. This two-hour hike was exhausting but offered breathtaking views of the coast.

Takeaways: 1) Hiking the Cinque Terre is no joke. 2) We have a new appreciation for pesto. 3) We need to read up on squat toilets. 4) We get a gold star for trying seafood outside our comfort zone. 5) Dinner is much later than home.

Foodstuff: The Cinque Terre is known for its fresh seafood (anchovies!!), focaccia, and pesto alla genovese. Pesto is a bright green sauce made with crushed garlic, basil, and pine nuts and then blended with olive oil and cheese. If we weren't a fan of pesto before, we sure are now. Try the trofie al pesto, a regional pasta designed specifically to hold the pesto sauce to ensure that perfect bite. Also, be sure to taste the Cinque Terre and sciacchetra wines as well as the limoncino. For dessert (or anytime really), indulge in the gelato. In Corniglia, try the flavor called miele di Corniglia made from the local honey.

Restaurant Picks:

Ristorante Belvedere (try the Amphora Belvedere)
Piazza Garibaldi 38, Monterosso al Mare

Te La Do lo La Merenda (try the gnocchi al pesto)
Via Colombo 161, Riomaggiore

^^Ristorante Belvedere is famous for its Amphora Belvedere, a plate of seafood stewed together with spices and perfumed herbs in a earthenware pot. This meal was an event!^^ 

Recommendations: 1) Bring proper footwear, sunblock, and water to hike the Cinque Terre. 2) Carry tissues or toilet paper in your day pack. 3) Stay in the Cinque Terre for at least one night. The villages are much different after the hordes of tourists leave each evening.


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