Who's on First, The Money Shot, and Deep Fried Cheese in Cinque Terre!
Updated: Mar 17, 2020
Dear Friends and Family,
When I last left you, I was in Marvellous Marina Grande, learning how to choose ugly fish for dinner with my cheerful waiter Cheeto. With pleasant memories of the Amalfi coast, I am now off to Cinque Terre
Far from the hustle and bustle of Rome, Cinque Terre is five, picture postcard fishing villages on the west coast of Italy. Visiting Cinque Terre is like stepping back in time; villages are carved into the side of cliffs, and most destinations are only accessible via 45-degree angle stairs and tunnels. Ironically, it literally took a village to get me to Cinque Terre.
Trains in Italy can be comedic at best, and getting to Cinque Terre by train was a little like being in the middle of that famous George Burns comedy sketch; “Who’s on First?” My train ride began calmly, sharing a car with a very friendly group of 20 New Yorkers who generously offered to help stow my very heavy, (I love shopping in Italy!), luggage into the tiny, hard to reach, overhead compartments.
We were all settled in, getting know one another, when suddenly the train car was teeming with more people, and of course, more bags. So much so, you would think Train Italia was giving away free Limoncello and Grandma Cake in Car 2. Everyone seemed convinced that our car was the place to be and moreover, everyone made it clear in their language of origin that under no uncertain circumstances were they moving anywhere anytime soon. After a few tense moments Joe from NYC figured out that our little NAFTA group was in the wrong car. With 22 people, and 30 bags between us, this isn’t exactly the news one wants to hear. Joe also decided that after hoisting 30 pieces of luggage he and his group weren’t moving anywhere either. Finally, like a Sicilian Miracle, Joe somehow got the crowd moving, and like herding cats, things finally got sorted out.
After arriving in Riomaggiore I was greeted by my very friendly and knowledgeable host Paulo. Paulo is proud of his town and in my books, the unofficial Mayor of Riomaggiore. He rents 3 apartment buildings in a town of 300 and knows everyone. After receiving an orientation from him I decided to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the view. Out of the corner of my eye I saw lots of people and cameras, pointed in my direction. Suddenly I realized the balcony I am sitting on, and this apartment, were located in one of the most photographed pieces of real estate in the world. I was right smack dab in the middle of the money shot of Cinque Terre- what are the chances of that?
Over the next few days I had a wonderful time exploring the nearby villages of Monterosso and Vernazza, easily accessible by regional train with a great shops, restaurants and wonderful beaches. FYI it was a good thing I travelled to and from Cinque Terre by train. Cinque Terre is the land of pesto pasta, ooey, gooey fried bread with cheese, and fried fish. If I was flying, I am certain I would have been charged excess weight as I probably used up 3000 Weight Watchers points during my 3 day stay. Thanks for hanging in there with me…gotta go, I'm off to Rome for the weekend!
Ciao for now…
Stay, Play, Dine and Shop in Cinque Terre!
Super important; if you are planning on staying in any of the five villages in Cinque Terre and want a super awesome stay, make sure you book ahead. There are no major hotels in Cinque Terra, a few little hotels, and most accommodations are apartments rented online through Air B and B. Our stay with Paulo was fantastic and included housekeeping everyday with fresh towels, something you do not always get in Europe. If you want to book an apartment with Paulo, you can contact him through Expedia. He manages 3 buildings and can arrange anything, including the luggage guy Roberto to carry your luggage up and down those steep stairs to the apartment, and to and from the train station.
Each village is easily accessible by train and minutes away from each other. Although I did not participate in any organized tours while I was in Cinque Terre, there are lots to choose from. There are day and sunset boat cruises along the coast, Wine Tastings at Castles, cooking classes, hiking trails galore, plus a beautiful beach in Monterossa. For more information you can google www.cinqueterre.eu.com.
Dining in Cinque Terra is fun! Lots of outdoor cafes and bars selling a plethora of pizza, pasta, fish, coffee, and seafood. In Riomaggiore there are even 2 Michelin Star restaurants; Dau Cila, Rio Bistrot. For coffee go see the girls at Bar Lorza too; coffee shop by day and disco by night- a fun spot for sure!
When I travel, I love to visit art galleries. In Vernazza I stumbled upon Antonio Greco Gallery filled with original prints, drawings, funky jewellery and fabulous, low priced clothing. Antonio is super cool and has a great sense of style. This is a must see stop if you are in Vernazza or Monterosso.