As with most of our arrivals to new places, our first encounter with Monterosso was confusing. What had been a relatively quiet train ride became more and more crowded and chaotic as we approached the Cinque Terre towns, and the Monterosso stop was teaming with people getting off and on the train, some arriving for the first time, others using the train as a mode of transportation to visit one of the remaining four towns, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
As part of our package, B&B Il Parco had a taxi waiting for us, a tremendous relief. A short ride to the hotel and we knew we had a winner. Thanks, Les for helping us locate this fantastic spot. They even have a decent breakfast that includes scrambled eggs that Charles loves :) The peace and quiet comes at a bit of a price. The descent to the town centre where the action is, i.e. restaurants, beach, stores, espresso and gelato bars, etc. requires about a 15 minute walk to the shortcut ...a set of stairs, we counted 135, so not bad compared to the Praiano stairs experience. The walk back is more rigorous, since the climb does't end with the stairs. The road is uphill all the way, a good workout after a meal or snack of gelato which is to die for anywhere in Italy. I've developed a fondness for nocciola and chocolate, yum! We've noted that somehow all this exercise doesn't seem to translate into weight management. We can both feel out waists expanding by the day. Home time will also be diet time...big time!
|B&B Il Parco has great views and beautifully manicured gardens with quiet spaces to sit and gather your thoughts|
|Tuna steak with capers and sun dried tomato|
|Sea bass with really good potatoes|
|And le piece de resistance, tiramisu ...delicious!|
|Vernazza seen from the hiking trail|
|Beautiful vistas from the hiking path|
|Vernazza from a closer perspective along the trail|
Today, we took the boat ride along the coast and had the opportunity to see each of the towns from the water, all stunningly beautiful from afar. The only town we actually explored was Vernazza. By the time we got to Riomaggiore, we were both tired and starting to get a little seasick from the rocking of the boat so we decided to pack it in and head back for an afternoon of sunning and swimming at the beach. By the way, 10,00 Euros each for an umbrella and two chairs. They get you coming and going in these tourist areas!
We learned that Vernazza and Monterosso were the hardest hit during the awful mud slide that happened in October of 2011. Once again we are amazed at the resilience of Italian villagers. Walking through the towns today, one would never believe that three years ago the main roads were six feet deep in mud! Mirella, the proprietress of B&B Il Parco, explained that the towns folk, young and old, of Monterosso and Vernazza worked night and day to get things back in shape for the following tourist season and, for the most part, they succeeded. She mentioned that some relief also came from other parts of Italy and Europe as well, which was nice to hear.
|Street in Vernazza that was buried in mud after the mud slide of October, 2011|
|Loved this shot of the water Charles took as we were leaving the Vernazza harbour|
And finally, I just had to include this photo of an amazing seafood pasta dish I had at La Tortuga Ristorante. As we sat eating, I watched a huge Mediterranean storm from a window right in front of me. It was awesome! Come to think of it, that's probably why the boat was rocking so much...the waves were higher than usual, probably due to the storm the night before.
|Yummy seafood pasta at La Tortuga|
|Window at La Tortuga. The storm was still brewing at this point, but nature put on quite a show!|