I’m with my parents on the Italian coast for a short vacation. We’re in a region called Cinque Terre or “Five Lands”. It is stunning. In October of 2011 there was a massive flash flood here, and the damage is still evident.
The collection area for this stream doesn’t seem to be that big, so I can’t imagine how much rain they must have gotten to create this kind of damage.
We are staying in the second most northerly town, called Vernazza. The climate here is very temperate. There is lots of citrus growing.
I also saw this plant which looks like a cactus, although it seems to be very wet around here also.
The thing to do around here, especially this time of year when everything is closed for off season, is to hike. We didn’t know exactly where the trails started, so we headed up the road. We did not drive to Vernazza, choosing instead to leave our car in La Spezia and taking the train in. This was recommended to us because there is no room for cars in Vernazza. Walking up the road was nice because it was quiet. It was also extremely steep.
The views once we got up high were spectacular.
There are incredible towns built into the very steep hillsides above the sea. Here are my parents at a church way up on a ridge:
Here I am on one of the trails:
Here’s my dad, Mike Hoffman, in one of the small towns:
And my mom, Sharon Hoffman:
This cool pulley cart was used to get things to and from the houses that were built on a point with no space for a road access:
We eventually made it on to the trails and figured out where we were on our map.
The hiking reminded me of New England.
We found this cool cave:
When my coach, John Callahan out of Aspen, approved this trip, he specifically told me not to do too much hiking downhill and not to get sore. Three and a half hours into our hike we had done nothing but go uphill. We finally found a way back down, and it was steep. I am going to be VERY sore tomorrow. Sorry John.
On the hike we made our way south, eventually ending up at the southernmost city of the five, Riomaggiore. The views of the cities to the north were spectacular.
Here I am with my dad:
I love the look of the terraced land.
We walked along this cool fence made of old bed springs:
One more look at the sea as we descended:
European hiking is so fun with old paths and stairways.
Here’s a good picture of my parents:
It was a lot of downhill walking. We didn’t realize how far we’d gone up.
Eventually we made it down to Riomaggiore. Here’s a cool shot I caught of my parents:
The town was incredible.
The buildings are so close together and the hillside so steep that the paths between them are gorgeous.
I also love the train stations both in Vernazza and Riomaggiore. The landscape is so rugged that the train has to be underground for most of the trip. The stations are short bridges above a narrow valley. The station is not nearly long enough for the train so most of the station is underground.
I liked this cool staircase down to the water:
Some of the houses have incredible gardens.
Because of the unique setting for the town, the construction workers have to be creative. Here is a pipe they were using to get gravel down the hill from where they had parked:
There were some cool murals:
Here is the main part of the town:
This little kid had the coolest motorcycle that he rode around the plaza:
We arrived in town in the middle of Siesta.
Everything was closed.
In the morning my mom had picked up stuff for lunch. However, she only got stuff for salad.
It was good but not as substantial as what I was looking for after 4+ hours of walking. I was disappointed nothing was open. We had a nice view from our lunch spot.
And here’s looking the other direction:
After lunch we hopped on the train back to Vernazza.
We then did a little exploring around here.
Here’s the inside of the church:
Here it is from the outside:
I love how everybody here hangs their laundry out to dry.
We were treated to a wonderful sunset:
Here’s one more of my parents:
During our adventures we saw a ton of cats. I put this collection together:
Lastly, my mom had asked to put stuff in the hotel fridge this morning. They had said they didn’t have one. When we got back to the room there was a mini fridge sitting on the floor for us with my mom’s perishables inside.