Sunshine in the morning let us explore the fabled colours and cleverness of the Cinque Terre. From Manarola we took a walk along Lover’s Lane, or Via dell’Amore- a paved, gentle walk for twenty minutes to the next village, Riomaggiore. Far below the sea promised excellent kayaking and snorkelling on its emerald water, fringing the rocks with clean white foam. The walkway had seats to admire the view, a couple of cafes in the summer and some picnic spots. Apparently it is so crowded in the season that the ticket numbers are limited.
Tickets? Yes we had to buy a day ticket to walk the walkways, and use the trains and buses between each town. As part of the revenue goes to preserve the unique and fragile landscape, we were very happy to contribute to keep this World Heritage area alive.
Riomaggiore and Manarola are two of the five villages, making up the Cinque Terre, tucked into rocky bays, making Wellington look like the Canterbury plains.
For lunch, we took one of the hourly Regional trains to Corniglia, very picturesquely perched on a rock, with 365 steps zigzagging up the hill. Fortunately a little electric bus meets the train, and we were delivered to the only café open for lunch. Later, full of pasta and red wine, we ventured to the furthest village, Monterosso. On foot it would take three hours on the narrow path , but on the train it took less than 10 minutes, mostly in tunnels!
Monterosso had a couple of pebbly beaches which attract the summer crowds, and a well organised boat, bus and train service, taking people out to sea, along the coast, and up the mountains to the Sanctuaries- sacred places for each village. Little was operating in late November, but we could still admire the faithful work over a thousand years which has built over 7000km of dry stone walls, to terrace the hillsid
es, and provide fertile patches of earth for olives, grapes and vegetables to grow.
On the hillside opposite our B&B, locals had places huge silhouettes of characters in the Christmas stories. Shepherds, sheep, cows, farmers, children, wise men, all look as if they are going up to the very top of the hill to the stable, outlined on the highest rock. The lights will go on , on 8 December.