I took the most pictures in Cinque Terre, perhaps that’s telling in terms of the grandiose beauty of the Liguria region of Italy. This trip was the definition of paradise.
Everyday we got the privilege of seeing these cascading mountains barreling into the depths of a clear warm October sea. It was definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, it probably helped that we were not there in tourist season so the cities were virtually empty compared to normal standards.
A big group of us started in Riomaggiore, the first town, and made our way slowly from one small hilltop village to the next. We didn’t spend much time in first town, though beautiful, we had heard more amazing things about the next towns over. Our goal for the first day was to hike from Corniligia to Montorosso al mar, 5km, without rushing, before sunset.
We started in Corniglia, the town which is one of the least popular because the guidebooks like to lie to tourists and tell you that you cannot swim in this town. CORRECTION: It may be a long hike down but you can certainly swim and it is an amazing swimming cove that’s marvelously uncrowded.
We stayed for a good few hours and then started our hike to Vernazza. We walked along a cliffhanging trail of pure beauty. No words could ever capture it. It was fucking lovely.
The especially beautiful park of hikes though, is that thoughts sweat from your pores. My mind bounced from place to place, but I consistently wandered back to thinking about that the people who say, to travel is to grow. I think they may have gotten a bit confused. Privilege doesn’t age you, pain does. This life of travel sucks the struggle out of you.
By the time we got to the “most picturesque” town, we were ready for another swim. We hopped in the ocean again and inhaled the allure of the clearest blue salt water we had ever seen. You can’t help but be seduced by the stunning, time-suspending, waters and mountains of these towns. Even the most stoic human wouldn’t be able to control their jaw from dropping.
On the hike to Montorosso al Mar, the sun set just as we were arriving. We ate a seafood dinner on the water with our glasses of wine and felt a sense of faux maturity (it was ruined by the time we sent a request in for a third bread basket). Overall, it was one of the best days of my time in Italy.
The next day was even better, if that’s possible. Because there were so many of us (7) we were able to rent a boat for about 10 euros each. We felt even more of a sense of faux maturity as we snuck bottles of white wine on board. However, since only six people were technically allowed on the boat, I was volunteered as tribute (because of decent swimming skills and the loss of rock paper scissors) to swim to the boat from the beach on the next shore. After about 20 minutes of anxious waiting on the next shore, praying that they didn’t lose me, they finally appeared and I swam out to our next adventure.
The boat was by far the best decision of the trip. We had all bought goggles the day before, and we went to abandoned spots swimmers could not reach and just watched the fish swim beneath our feet. We decided to spend our last hours on the boat on a trip to Manarola, the only town we hadn’t visited, and discovered that this town is the spot to cliff jump. So we swam from our boats to hilltop village, climbed the rocks, and jumped into the clear water beneath us.
We spent our last day revisiting the sites we fell in love with the days before. Overall, an amazing trip.