We flew into Milan on Saturday, spent the night there, and on Easter Sunday took the train straight to Cinque Terre, a group of five picturesque villages on the west coast of Italy.
We met a very nice Italian woman and her daughter who were taking the train to Genoa for the day. She enjoyed practicing her English on us, and we enjoyed guessing at our Italian with her. Contrary to what we were expecting, we learned from her that Cinque Terre is a very popular tourist spot for Italians on Easter weekend.
The train platform in Vernazza was a sea of people. By contrast, when Dan visited in March of last year he saw just a few people. Fortunately, we were able to find a room with just a few calls – the last room the hotel had, which turned out to be a recurring theme of our trip.
Our room was on the top floor of a large house, up several flights of stairs with marble landings, and through some double doors that looked like a linen closet. We couldn’t stand up straight in the bathroom, but the room was cozy and incredibly inexpensive.
On our first night in town, we ate outside in the square by the harbor. Some wild kitties were lurking around, hoping for table scraps. They looked very well fed, so I expect their strategy was pretty effective. They became really friendly once Dan fed them some seafood, and one even followed us back to our hotel.
Along the Trail
The five towns of the Cinque Terre are linked by a train line and a hiking trail. We spent an afternoon hiking from Vernazza south to Corniglia. The views of the coastline and the sea were spectacular.
Since the climate is very similar to that in coastal California, we saw many wild plants that looked familiar to us. This area is also highly agricultural, with many terraced gardens built into the hillside. One of our guidebooks told us that there is more stonework in the Cinque Terre terraces than in the Great Wall of China.
The hiking trail provided a good view down into the harbor of Vernazza. On the other side of town, we could look down on the train station. One of our dinners was at a tiny restaurant just a little further up the trail, which gave us a lovely sunset view of the town.
We spent our last morning in Cinque Terre in Manarola, soaking in some sun by the waterfront in town.