Today we toured Cinque Terre, north of Tuscany. The Cinque Terra is an area containing five historic seaside villages. They are frequently photographed so you may be already familiar with them.
We boarded our Oceania Cruise ship late yesterday and woke up in the Port of Livorno, one of Italy’s largest seaports and one of the largest in the entire Mediterranean Sea. It is located on the Ligurian Sea in the north-western part of Tuscany.
The Bus Ride North
Then we boarded a tour bus and drove north out of Livorna. On the way, we passed the largest American base in Italy, and we could see the Italian Apennine Alps in the distance.
Along the way was a commercial umbrella pine forest, and the guide said that this is the region where the story of Pinocchio originated. Pinocchio means pine and the little boy was made of pine from the umbrella tree. There are also commercial poplar tree forests here, as well.
For the second time, I saw hunters in a field. I guess these two are hunting the wild boars.
On our bus ride north with the sea to our left and the mountains to our right, we passed from the Tuscany region into another region, the Liguria. There are provinces within the regions. These provinces are like our counties.
Liguria is a smaller crescent-shaped region in northwest Italy. Its Mediterranean coastline is known as the Italian Riviera. The five fishing villages of the Cinque Terre, as well as Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure, are located here. We sail to Portofino tomorrow.
We drove very near the Italian Apennine Alps. What looked like snow in the distance turned out to be white marble quarries. Our guide said that they have been getting the marble from these mountains for thousands of years. We passed the Carrera marble quarries and marble yards.
We drove through La Spezia to enter the Cinque Terre which is also a national park, much like our state parks. La Spezia is a port city with buildings with apartments on top and their businesses down below. It is a big Italian Naval Base, too. We drove up a mountain with views of the city down below, a mountain we have to cross to get to the Cinque Terre.
Le Cinque Terre
The Cinque Terre is a region of five picturesque villages on the sea. They are built on terraces.
They are unique because for centuries they could only be accessed by the sea and because of their unique way of cultivating vineyards.
Manarola was the first village we visited. We drove down from the mountain to the edge of this village which clings to a cliff face by the sea. We parked on its upper edge and walked down into the village.
It is mostly a pedestrian village with very few cars. In fact, there was an entrance with a bar that did not let cars enter into the village.
The Cinque Terra is a UNESCO site, a proclaimed heritage of mankind, because of the way in which they grew their grapevines here. It is unique because the farmers have built their vineyards on terraces up on the cliffs overlooking the sea for generations.
The five villages are all built on rivers, though this one seemed more like a stream. We walked beside it down into the village.
From the parking lot, we took a wide sidewalk down into the village. This sidewalk runs from village to village. For example, it is five hours to get to the next Cinque Terre village, but today we can do it in a few minutes by train.
This would be a great place to come and hike from village to village.
We walked through Manarola down to the port where we caught a ferry.
We passed the village of Corniglia on our way to Vernazza. We only visited three of the five villages today.
Vernazza was truly beautiful, and it may be our favorite of the three we saw. It is known for its tower-like buildings and narrow alleyways
After touring Vernazza we took another ferry to Montarosa.
In Montarosa, an unspoilt medieval city, we had almost two hours to hang out including lunch on our own.
We stopped at a little restaurant called the Da Aldo Tigelle and had lunch, a wonderful seafood pasta, which included different varieties of seafood with a very good sauce that was just right for sopping with bread. I love their rustic bread. The little octopus staring up at me from between the pasta? Not so much. I hid him so I wouldn’t have to look at him.
Afterwards, we walked all over the city. There are little if any cars as it is another pedestrian city. I did notice several boys who had backpacks with their wet swimming trunks hanging off the back as if they had been hiking through the area and decided to go for a swim. We caught a train which we took back out of the Cinque Terre.
What a wonderful life here.