Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cinque Terre & Portovenere


The Cinque Terre is a sequence of five villages (literally, five lands) at the southernmost reach of the Ligurian coast. Together with Portovenere they form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The villages are connected by a coastal walking path that can be completed in under 5 hours, and are most easily reached by a train on the Rome-Genoa line.

I drove us to the port city of La Spezia where we caught the train - after Bondi brought the central station ticket office to a halt while all the ticket agents congregated in one booth to talk & gawk at him. The 15 minute journey to the first village, Riomaggiore, is Bondi's first interurban train journey, although much shorter than most of the London Tube journeys he has undertaken.

Start of the walk; graffiti everywhere

The Via Dell'Amore (Lover's Walk) from Riomaggiore to Manorola is the shortest, easiest segment of the coastal path. The next was blocked 1/3 of the way along by a gate announcing dangerous conditions (due to a landslide) but no one had thought to post a sign walkers at Manorola, so we walked back and caught the train to Corneglia. Walkers coming from the other side were notified of the closure.

Manorola to Corneglia

It's 368 notorious steps up to the Corneglia centro from the trainline, and a good time for a break.


The path northwards from Corneglia is much wilder and is officially 90 minutes in duration, although we accomplished its strenuous ups and downs, sometimes along what seemed like goatpaths (with vertigo-struck me staring at the wall), in just over 60.

Looking back to Corneglia; the path; wildflowers

Approaching Vernazza

Vernazza was the prettiest of all the villages we walked through, and we lingered around the harbour for a while before taking the train onto Monterosso, which for me was almost devoid of personality, perhaps due to all the building work in progress.


Monterosso al mare

Return train to La Spezia

The beginning of the Cinque Terre coast.

We finished the day with a drive to Portovenere which is a genteel town where once was a Roman fishing village and temple to Venus.

Portovenere, looking west

360 degree

Byron's Grotto, the other Byron Bay

The poet Byron swam from this point across the gulf of La Spezia to meet Shelley at Lerici. D.H. Lawrence lived in the area as well.

Looking across to La Spezia (and Colonnata)

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