Sunday, July 10, 2016

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is a mountainous coastal group of five villages along the Italian Riviera, northwest of Florence.  Literally it is 'five lands', or five communities.  With its spectacular scenery it attracts a lot of tourists, and is now a National Park.  We visited on a day trip from Florence.

The only village accessible by bus is Manarola.  Like all of them, its houses are built practically on top of each other up the slopes of a valley where a small stream descends to the coast.  The narrow streets were crowded with tourists.

All of these villages have tiny harbours, all but one of them very limited in size, and subject to waves crashing off the Mediteranean.  In Manarola the small boats are hauled up the boat ramp (in the foreground), and simply stored on the street above.

The second town our tour took us to was Riomaggiore, a little larger, but still very crowded with homes climbing the steep slopes.  Another tiny harbour, with boats stored on the streets above.

We're looking north up the coast past the other five villages, until recently only connected by mountain paths, but now linked by a local train line that travels through tunnels and just pops out in the open for each village.

This is the largest town, Monterosso al Mare, spread along a nice beach - most of which you must pay to enter.

I enjoyed taking pictures of the surf breaking over the breakwall.

In the tiny bit of beach that was public, we both dipped our toes into the Mediteranean, just to prove we'd actually been there.

The last town we got to was Vernazza, with a nice but very small harbour and a tiny corner of beach.  This town had suffered a mud slide that roared right down the main street (there is only one street), about ten feet deep in 2011.  They've worked courageously since to re-open the town to tourists.

When we were there the waves were crashing in on the pier, and we had to forgo the boat tour that might have let me get more scenic pictures of the villages.  (Just Google 'Cinque Terre' and choose 'Images').

All of this is set in an ancient landscape of grape terraces marching up the slopes, where not long ago life was very challenging.  Now the challenges are the number of tourists that interrupt life (but spend their money), and fight for space on the train platforms.



15 comments:

  1. When I went to Turkey last year, I also dipped my feet in the Mediterranean. These little villages are really lovely. And you're right: they practically build each house on top of its neighbor. So different from here. :-)

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  2. Land is at a premium so they had to be inventive, which they were. Love how people adapt to the environment all,over the world. It shows ingenuity and determination. Beautiful photos!

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  3. Wow those beautiful little towns are amazing.

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  4. Those houses are almost on top of each other, but yet so pretty on the coast line. Good for you getting your toes wet! :)

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  5. I'm always stunned when I see photos the towns with houses built so closely - no gardens to speak of - no place to enjoy being outdoors - we are a bit spoiled over here in the US. Your photos are absolutely stunning!!!!

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  6. How odd that the only people I know who have been to Cinque Terre are my friend from Buffalo and you. No European has mentioned it to me. That does seem strange considering how pretty it is.

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  7. what an amazing village of homes. i love the colors and the combined look...i am not sure i could live in such a claustrophobic area but it sure is pretty to look at!!

    i would HAVE to do the same "toe dipping" and i am always trying to get the perfect "splash" image!! the last picture is really beautiful!!!

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  8. What interesting villages. Love the photos of the colorful homes perched on those tall cliffs.

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  9. I'd never heard of this area before. Beautiful!

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  10. A bit crowed but it sure is beautiful and what a view!!! Amazing.

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  11. Very scenic! Looks like you're having a wonderful trip.

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  12. Very scenic! Looks like you're having a wonderful trip.

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  13. Fabulous!
    The colour of the buildings so nice to see ...

    All the best Jan

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  14. Gorgeous scenery! I can totally understand that this area is popular with the tourists.

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