My impressions of Cinque Terre are mixed. In a sense, it’s like a Disney World – crowded, connected, seemingly fake and over the top, but also purely magical. A dream that’s real. The culture, the food, the sun, the sea – it’s all real. It’s simple and calming. Colorful.
I feel like I shouldn’t, but I want to go back.
From my notes:
After our initial tour of the five villages the day before, we didn’t have any plans scheduled for today. Our friends were leaving to head to Verona, and the two of us had to move to a new, smaller place to say, though it was too early to access the room. We decided, while we waited, to do a 1.5 hour hike from town to a sanctuary lookout in the hillside. It was hard, hot and steep, stairs and stairs and stairs. We were so unprepared; we didn’t even have a single bottle of water with us, but the views at the top were breathtaking and, of course, that’s all we remember now. By the time we returned to town, we were eager to get into our new room to shower and do nothing.
Sometime around 3:30 pm, after we had recovered from the morning, we ventured out for a late lunch, first stopping at a stand on the main road for a cone of seafood to takeaway – a local speciality and so delicious. We ate it as we walked to the train station and up the cliff-side to a cafe overlooking the sea, where we ordered salads and drinks. The days here seemed to last forever; I still don’t know how we had more time after that, but we did, and we weren’t sure what to do with it. Things were slow, ideal.
We decided to return to Vernazza, since we had spent the least amount of time there the day prior. We walked around the harbor and sat for iced coffees by the sea until we eventually returned to Riomaggiore, where we stumbled across a small cooking school restaurant hidden off of the main path. There, we ate more pasta and salad and drank more rosé; we were the only ones there for more of our meal. A secret place.
The rest of the evening was perfect. We walked to the marina for sunset and ordered gelatos from the same place in the wall that we ordered from on the night that we arrived. We sat on the wall overlooking the sea, two of many in a crowd doing the same thing. A jazz band performed at the top of the path. There, we listened to the music, and we watched the sun set over the sea until it was finally dark.