Cinque Terre, Italy ~ A Perfect Trip For The Senses & The Solo Traveller
Ever since I read Eat, Pray, Love (confession, I never got passed the “Eat” part) I was obsessed with Italy and the idea of exploring that incredible country. The food, the wine and the glorious picturesque landscape…wait….did I mention the wine??? As I was needing to make a hasty retreat out of London (a blog for another time) I wanted a journey that was not only great for the soul but a treat for the rest of my senses. I decided to do a three day solo trip to Cinque Terre, my own mini version of Eat Pray Love. I am calling it “Eat, Drink, Repeat which is much more relatable I think. I’ve decided I want Chelsea Handler to play me in the movie adaption unless of course Charlize Theron is dying to do it, I mean one cannot deny the uncanny resemblance, right?
Cinque Terre & The Solo Traveller
Cinque Terre is made up of five colourful, ancient seaside villages that were originally strung together by old mule trails or by sea. People now come from around the world to hike between these towns, through vineyards, olive groves and breathtaking seaside cliffs. Although you could now take the local train between these towns the real breathtaking joy is the hikes and they are not for the faint of heart…or the injured.
There were many paths that were so narrow, steep and dropped off drastically on one side that one really needs to pay attention to every step. Most people I saw wore hiking shoes but since I had the world’s best walking shoes EVER my Cole Hahn Zero Gravity, I was rocking the climb.
DAY 1 & 2 ~ Levanto~ Monterosso al Mare ~ Vernazza
I stayed in the town of Levanto where I arrived late afternoon. Levanto is just outside the 5 villages connected by foot, road and train. There were more hotel choices in Levanto which is why I chose it. I had the afternoon and evening to explore this town plus I had the most incredible pizza with truffle shavings I have ever, EVER eaten for dinner. I guess one has to carb load for the next day’s hike so totally justifiable meal choice.
The first morning I started out and hiked from Levanto and Monterosso, the first of the Cinque Terre towns, it was about 2 hours. A lot of ascent and descent through forest, rocks slab steps and olive groves.
The reveal of this seaside village literally made me say WOW OH WOW. I loved Monterosso, it was my favourite and the largest of the villages and if I was doing it again (which I will) I think I would book myself a beachside hotel there. I did have the BEST pesto pasta of my life that they prepared at the table at a place called Ristorante Ciak, a dish the region is famous for. Crazy good.
After lunch I hiked to Vernazza. Mostly a steep coastal trek. Stunning views and beautiful little village. At the end of day I took a 30 minute boat ride back to Levanto just in time to see the sun dip below the horizon. So fantastic seeing the towns and coastline from the water.
DAY 3 ~ Riomaggiore ~ Manarola ~ Corniglia
The next day I started at the furthest of the five towns, Riomaggiore where I took the train from Levanto. The local trains were easy, cheap and frequent with about only 30 minutes from one end of Cinque Terre to the other. You can buy an all day train ticket to get you from town to town. That also gets you into the national park where most of the hiking trails are. I explored this picturesque fishing village and had a lunch of fried seafood in a paper cone (yum) and then hiked to Manarola.
From Riomaggori to Manarola was the shortest and easiest hike between the villages. All the towns were similar for sure. The yellow ochre patina of the old buildings, the laundry hanging from the windows. Nothing much to buy unless you are in need of a ceramic bowl or anything made from a lemon, they love their lemons.
From Manrola I walked to Corniglia, the only town not accessible by boat. I took the train from Cornelia back to Levanto, grabbed a bottle of wine and went to the beach for sunset. You got to love Italy for their acceptance of public drinking. l played Puccini’s Madame Butterfly aria which drew a small but interesting local crowd, sipped my wine from a plastic cup and watched the magnificent sun kiss the day goodbye.
It was simply put… sensational.
A Few Broad In London tips.
Do not go in the summer. It is hot and overrun with tourists much louder and more obnoxious then ourselves. October, at the end of the season was perfect. Still sunny, warm, not crowded and much more affordable. Take your S’well bottle with you, you will build up a thirst and wear really comfortable shoes with good treads.
For the solo traveller this is the perfect trip. It was magical, affordable and inspired me in ways that I could not have ever predicted. The scenery is breathtaking, you can go at your own pace and it is safe providing you don’t break something.
So if you are in need of a sensual, beautiful escape, and lets be honest…who isn’t? Cinque Terre is that place. With incredible food and great local wine that costs the price of a Diet Coke … that decision my friend is what we call a no-brainer.