Cinque Terre part II: Vernazza

A bit behind on the travels here, but have no fear – all of the tales will be told.  I just returned for my last week of work after a long weekend jaunt to Venice, the Dolomites, and Verona.  Pictures of heaven to follow in forthcoming posts.

Winding around the coastline from Monterosso to Vernazza

Winding around the coastline from to Vernazza

Saying goodbye to Monterosso

Saying goodbye to Monterosso

I firmly believe that an early morning reveals the best in any location.  This certainly applies to Cinque Terre, and we were in for a great first full day in pesto paradise.  After a brief breakfast at Manuel’s courtesy of my favorite snaggle-toothed caretaker, Arianna and I hit the trails to check out a bit more of Monterosso before making our way along the cliffs to our next destination: Vernazza.

The first glimpse

The first glimpse

Welcome to Vernazza

Welcome to Vernazza

The hikes along Cinque Terre, when open (a few are closed down due to damage from relatively recent rock slides), are like a perfect outdoor stairmaster.  In other words, they are mostly staircases, with a few flat spots peppered along the trails when you aren’t really changing elevation all that much.  You hug the coastline from up on high as it undulates back and forth, providing for some spectacular views of the next towns as well as some more difficult than expected hiking.  However, very much worth the effort.

Evidence that rock slides are a real issue

Evidence that rock slides are a real issue

And evidence that this might truly be heaven

And evidence that this might truly be heaven

Descending on Vernazza from the north was one of the more remarkable views we had over the course of the entire weekend.  From the brightly colored boats in the mini-harbor, to the stunning clock tower, to the richly-painted buildings crowding around the square for the best view of the day’s catch, it all makes for quite a special scene.

Looking back on the square from the pier

Looking back on the square from the pier

View from our mini balcony!

View from our mini balcony!

Anyone for boating?

Anyone for boating?

After being thoroughly exhausted from the hike, Arianna and I relaxed out on the pier and watched the local Vernazzan children duke it out in a good old-fashioned potato sack race.  Let’s just say that if this was an Olympic event, any Italian representative would not hail from Liguria.  Kids struggled with the concept of jumping, but I was happy to see some great diggers.  Oh yeah, the white team CRUSHED IT.

I was very close to getting in there and giving the blue team a coaching session.  VERY close.

I was very close to getting in there and giving the blue team a coaching session. VERY close.

Looking West at the right time

Looking West at the right time

Apparently people like wasting metal and giving lock-pickers a practice range

Apparently people like wasting metal and giving lock-pickers a practice range

Despite the beauty of Vernazza, I have mixed feelings about the town.  We stayed in a pretty hot and stuffy hotel (which called for the removal of the mattress from its frame to put it on the floor right next to the wide open window), it was very touristy (even into Saturday night?!), and there was a rager going on in the city center until the wee hours of the morning (which is within earshot of just about every building in the small town).  But overall, the positives far outweighed the negatives, and yes, those included debatably the best two pesto margherita pizzas I’ve ever eaten in my life, pesto lasagna, gelato for days, and yes, the sun setting over the bay with fork and the aforementioned pesto lasagna in hand.

Pesto lasagna just running away with the culinary game

Pesto lasagna just running away with the culinary game

Though the marinara mussels gave it a potato sack (disg)race for the money

Though the marinara mussels gave it a potato sack (disg)race for the money

The steps down were made a bit trickier by the vino...

The steps down were made a bit trickier by the vino…

Oh, and this happened during dinner

Oh, and this happened during dinner

Not a bad way to recover from a hard day’s walk with a heavy pack in a beautiful little town.  After deciding on the best pastry shop to dive into for breakfast the following morning, we called it a night and prepped for the biggest hike of the trip the next morning to Manarola (via Corniglia)!

Party on, Vernazza style

Party on, Vernazza style

Necessary moonshot

Necessary moonshot

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