La Bella Vita

Tuesday & Wednesday 28&29 Jan 2020

On Tuesday Christine crossed from the east coast to the west as she had decided to visit the World Heritage Site of Cinque Terre, 5 old villages clinging to the coast south of Genoa. On Wednesday she took an early train, at 8.20, from the city of La Spezia to the northernmost village, Monterossa. This was the train the locals working in the villages took and seemed too early for most other tourists.

The sky was a cloudless blue and the day soon warmed up. It was the first time on this trip that her winter coat was too warm. Christine had intended to follow the coastal path all the way through the 5 villages, but much of it was closed as too dangerous. She had read in the guidebook that this was due to floods in 2011, and it still wasn’t repaired. It’s Italy! She also later saw a sign saying that this first section was open, but should only be walked in good weather, tick, with extreme caution, tick, (no-one does extreme caution better or slower than Christine over difficult terrain), and with suitable footwear, tick, and as an experienced hiker, well maybe some of Eleri’s prowess had rubbed off by osmosis. There was also a sign saying it was illegal to walk the path in flipflops or open-toed shoes! Obviously there have been many problems in the past as over the 3.5k route there were 25 marked points in case of emergency!

It was blissful. Christine saw only one other hiker and had wonderful views of the coast and villages. It took her nearly 3 hours to reach the next village. The villages cling to the hillsides, which are covered in terraces and the houses are painted in different pastel shades. Often up close they look a bit tatty and in need of a fresh coat of paint, but at a distance they are exquisite. 

With the paths closed the rest of the villages were accessed by train. Spring had already reached here, with flowers out, broadbeans in flower, and butterflies floating by. It was idyllic, but even so there were large numbers of tourists in each village, so Christine was glad to come in winter as the villages are probably unbearably crowded in summer. January is definitely a great month to enjoy the sights without the crowds.

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