Pictures are worth a thousand words, they say. In that spirit, and given the scenic nature of Cinque Terre, this post will mostly be captions. Though, perhaps you've noticed I like to explain the picture before I show it, so these captions will be above the picture instead of below.
We went to four out of the five towns that give Cinque Terre its name. We stayed in our first stop - Manarola - long enough only to get a coffee and our bearings. We then took a train from Manarola to our next stop, Vernazza. Train stops in Cinque Terre may be slightly different than what you are accustomed to. Not a bad place to wait.
When in Italy, or anywhere in Europe I would say, climbing always is worth the energy (spoiler alert: our best climbs and resulting views on this trip are still yet to come). In Vernazza, a brief survey of a travel guide mentioned a small historic site that required a climb: Castello Doria, a 15th century castle built as a lookout tower to protect the village from pirates. The views of the coastline are stunning. There also are some wild fresh herbs up there.
See Katie in the bottom left?
There she is again. Whatcha doin' sweetheart?
Our longest stop was in Monterosso al Mare. Churches on the water are my favorite.
Surprisingly, the famous tour guide Rick Steves is as good at explaining history as he is at advising on travel tips. I will say as a qualifier, though, that such a statement about him is actually a compliment and a criticism. In any case, one particular detail of history he mentioned here in Monterosso was very interesting to me:
"During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church offset the rising influence of the Lutherans by creating brotherhoods of good works. These religious Rotary clubs were called, 'confraternities'.... Look up at the ceiling to find the symbol of the confraternity: a skull-and-crossbones and an hourglass - death awaits us all."
I do not have a bucket list, but if I did, dipping my feet and skipping rocks in the Mediterranean would have been on it. Check.
Meat and cheese spread (and much more actually), Italian beer, and homemade pasta with pesto, with a view of the Mediterranean. I'm not even sure what kind of noodle this is, but it absorbed the pesto like you wouldn't believe. By the way, pesto was discovered in the Cinque Terre. This was the birthplace of pesto. Did I mention that? Pesto!
Cinque Terre is for real. We hope to be back!