Hiking in wine country: Corniglia and Manarola

And a big hike it was – not terribly long (I don’t think, not aware of the actually kilometer-age), but up and down the vineyards we went, in and out of coves as escarpments jutted out into the sea.  We started fairly early in Vernazza after a quick breakfast at a pasticcieria  owned by a dup of charismatic Sicilians with pride in their food, and a bit of comedy in their delivery.  Still can’t get over this granita and pastry goodness – especially when it involves a corneto filled with ricotta!

I agree wholeheartedly

I agree wholeheartedly

And I also complied wholeheartedly

And I also complied wholeheartedly

However, the wise decision was made to transport our bags to our final destination, Manarola, before really getting after a long trek.  We arrived via train and found our nice little spot overlooking the water (complete with a great balcony and private garden area too!), and quickly backtracked to Vernazza for a pre-hike snack.  And yes, the snack was incredible focaccia/pizza of the margherita + pesto variety.  Think pizza like that I posted a picture of in the last post, but with thicker foccacia-esque crust, and cut into large square pieces.

The view that the window obscures

The view that the window obscures

The view from our interestingly-shaped window

The view from our interestingly-shaped window

The train systems were hidden quite well within the cliffs

The train systems were hidden quite well within the cliffs

Welcome to Manarola

Welcome to Manarola

Thankfully, I didn’t eat too much, and we got on the hiking trail to our first stop: Corniglia.  After climbing quickly up to the top of the ridge, the trail then began to meander through the landscape at roughly a constant elevation.  After a few km, the views of our destination were as clear as day, the beautiful town that is the only of the five without direct water access.  More of a cliff town than anything, and a quaint little town at that.

A stunning view approaching Corniglia from the north

A stunning view approaching Corniglia from the north

Corniglia, the hydrophobic of the village quintuplets

Corniglia, the hydrophobic of the village quintuplets

The brief quest for wine in Corniglia was temporarily thwarted, as our first option (with some crazy contraption for drinking the liquid) was closed.  However, we ended up finding a little spot to stop for some libations and a nice cheese platter, and then snagged some necessary honey and caramel gelato to give us energy for the final push to Manarola.

A beautiful display at the Corniglian wine garden

A beautiful display at the Corniglian wine garden

An outdoor bar with wine, cheese, honey, and chutney - aka an Italian hiker refueling station

An outdoor bar with wine, cheese, honey, and chutney – aka an Italian hiker refueling station

This next part of the hike was by far my favorite part of all the hikes in our weekend at Cinque Terre.  After a precipitous climb up again to the ridge, we were densely hiking within very active vineyards.  Grapes everywhere, and the most insane collection system cart I’ve ever seen.  Think a single rail with a chair/cart that rides straight up and down near vertical terracing cliffs.  Gave me vertigo just taking pictures of it!

One last view of Corniglia after we rapidly gained elevation en route to Manarola

One last view of Corniglia after we rapidly gained elevation en route to Manarola

I salute those who have the brass to ride carts on these tracks

I salute those who have the brass to ride carts on these tracks

After waltzing through a town at the top of the vineyards, we began the descent to Manarola. The views leading into Manarola were stunning as well, similar to those of our descent into Vernazza.  The cliff faces are a bit more exaggerated, the town a bit larger, the vineyards in closer proximity, and positioned perfectly to capture the last light of the setting sun.

Our destination emerging from amongst the grape vines

Our destination emerging from amongst the grape vines

Manarola: the glamour shot

Manarola: the glamour shot

We made it back to the room for the evening, got prepped for dinner, and relaxed over some pesto pasta, grilled vegetables, and locally-produced white wine.  The last part of the meal was no party though, we struggled to eat a HUGE plate of spaghetti with a large crab integrated, broken, and strewn throughout the dish.  Hazardous to say the least, and I think he got the better of us over all…  One last sunset in Cinque Terre, and it did not disappoint!

There are too few sunsets over the sea in my daily routine

There are too few sunsets over the sea in my daily routine

…And neither did the last of my moonlit series!

The upstairs neighbors burning the midnight oil

The upstairs neighbors burning the midnight oil

Can't get enough of these moonshots

Can’t get enough of these moonshots

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