October 25, 2013

Tuscany Trip - Part 4 - Cinque Terre

Although the Cinque Terre is not in Tuscany (it is in the Liguaria region on the Italian Riveriera), we decided since it was only an hour north and had heard such great reviews, we'd check it out.

Certainly glad we did. Since the five coastline villages are only accessible by train, foot, and boat (they are part of the Cinque Terre National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), we decided we'd take a ferry ride from Lerici to visit. Online I read the ferry would leave and return from Lerici one time a day in October, so we made sure we arrived early to purchase our tickets only to find out they were only running ferries out, not back (because they said they didn't have enough passengers to warrant a return trip)?!

Without a train station in Lereci, we'd have to take a train from the Cinque Terre towns back to La Spezia, and then catch a bus. We took our chances and hopped on the ferry passing the steep cliff side towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, and Vernazza and finally hopped off at the last and supposedly most beautiful, Monterosso al Mare. Over the centuries, people have built terraces on the rugged landscape right up to the cliffs overlooking the sea. Can you imagine having kids and living in one of those houses? I started sweating and freaking out just imagining scenarios with my little ones.

The ferry ride was a bit long, but quite worth it for the views from the sea. I was hoping we'd see dolphins or other wildlife, but perhaps we were out of season.  A big reason the towns are so charming is the lack of corporate development to the area. Without cars reaching the destinations, it really keeps the towns authentic, however, they were swarming with tourists (and almost all were English speaking).

In Monterosso, we arrived just in time for lunch.  We headed into the old town and found a perfect town square with a plethora of restaurants to choose from and adjacent,  a wonderful park!

 After a stroll through town, some gelato and shopping, we headed over to the train station to purchase tickets for our return journey and played on the beach. The highlight of the day was when Cooper took off all his clothes to play in the water. So adorable. Thirty or more tourists were taking photos as he danced around and screamed as the cold water lapped his ankles. 

 We managed to catch a train and a bus back to Lerici without a hiccup, and both little ones fell asleep on the bus. Since it was close to dinner time, we decided we'd hang around Lerici for dinner and explore the town a little. I'd read about Lerici in a New York Times Article titled "An Italian Beauty with Foreign Suitors", and the article was pretty spot on. Lerici is beautiful, and just as enjoyable as the Cinque Terre towns, but without all the tourists. We played at the park by the marina at sunset and Cooper made friends with some cute little local Italian boys who were impressed at his climbing skills, while Lily slept away in her stroller. After the park and nap, we ate dinner in the main square overlooking the marina at sunset.

Happy to have pictures to remember our days. I can almost taste the limoncella and smell the salty air...

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