Cinque Terre, Italy
My Insight Vacations group had a nice day today, driving along the beautiful coast and through tunnel after tunnel through the Appennini mountains. When we finally arrived at the edge of the Cinque Terre, we were greeted by a view of the six miles of craggy coast in which lie the five villages of Cinque Terre. They are Riomaggiore, Manarolo, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso.
These five villages are built on five creeks. The land is steep and hard to farm. The people have terraced the hillsides to make the land productive and to keep it from sliding off into the ocean. If the Cinque Terre terraces were laid end to end, they would stretch out over 4,000 miles, equal to the Great Wall of China, to which they are a sister district.
Each village produces wine; growing three varieties of white grapes. The vines are kept short to protect from the wind and from sea spray which could make the grapes moldy.
Maintenance and harvesting must be done by hand, with baskets. Recently a track system was implemented with a cart going up the hillside, so the workers can have big crate on the carts to put the grapes into. The problem is that it only accesses about 1% of the vineyards, so it isn’t too effective.
Until 50 years ago, the only way to get there was by train, which was only an option since 1925 when the train route was built within the hillside. Before that, it was accessible only by walking or by boat when the weather cooperated.
The intention was for us to drive to Manarolo, walk through town to the coast and take a boat to Monterosso. Then we were to return by train to La Spezia to meet our driver.
The villages are subject to flooding and are very hard to evacuate when necessary, because everything shuts down. Unfortunately, because of rough weather neither the boats or trains were operating. Instead we backtracked to the hillside town of Porto Venere to explore an old fort, have lunch and do some shopping. Then we came back to our hotel in Rapallo. A few of us walked through an ancient park, then along the coast into town to explore the little shops. We caught some fun pictures with waves crashing behind us. We ended with drinks at the bar and a delicious dinner at the hotel.
The moral of the story; when you travel, you do yourself a favor by being flexible. Instead of being disappointed, think about what other adventures may await, and relish your unplanned experiences.
If you would like to learn more about traveling to this unique destination as part of a larger trip to Italy, let’s connect and plan a carefree vacation!
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