The Chilled out Cinque Terre

Well hello lovie!

The Cinque Terre is where I found my holiday chill spot.  I know it always takes me a bit of time when I start holidays to wind down from work and to be honest I thought I was pretty relaxed up until this point, but from the minute I discovered my new favourite bar, ordered a drink and realised a few hours later I hadn’t moved – I knew I was super chilled!

Just a little recap if you’re not sure what/who/where the Cinque Terre is.  It’s a group of five (cinque=5) villages (terre=land) built into the cliffs on the Italian Riviera.  Each village has it’s own personality and style but essentially they all have a cute harbour, the buildings are colourful and seem to be precariously hanging over the top of cafe’s, restaurants, souvenir/clothing shops.

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Get the drift?  Now as I mentioned, there’s 5 villages and I decided to stay in Riomaggiore.  Why? Out of all the villages it seemed the right ‘size’ for me.  Some were really tiny and some were a lot bigger and touristy.  So note that a lot of my recommendations below are based out of Riomaggiore but if you had to pick other villages I’d go next with Monterosso (bigger, more resort feel) or Vernazza (super pretty). Cool – so here’s my wrap on the area:

eat/drink

Ok, so I became a bit of a regular at Fuori Rotta.  I loved it because it was perched at the top of the village looking down, was off the tourist drag so mainly locals, and the guys there always made me feel welcome.  Soooooo relaxing.

My lunch each day was pretty much fried seafood in a cone!  There’s heaps of places that do this but I found the best one in the village of Manarola.  No idea what it was called but trust me – look for the lineup.

I really wanted to eat pesto the regional specialty and was recommended to go to Veciu Muin and they were spot on.  The woman at the next table ordered the same thing (pesto tagliatelle) and we were comparing notes on how awesome it was, funny how food can create conversations 🙂

 

shop

You know I LOVE to shop but this was not a shopping mecca for me.  If you want to buy soap shaped as a lemon, linen scarves (ok, maybe I did buy this one thing), ceramics, olive oil, magnets and the usual tourist gimmicks then go nuts!  Or you could always buy a sun baking cat for 10 euro……

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do

  1. check out the 5 villages and take in their subcultures, quirky charms and personalities.  Vernazza was my fave – pretty and just had a relaxed feel.
  2. visit the villages via the local train or the ferry.  I choose the ferry (massively out of my comfort zone as I hate boats) as it gave me a new perspective and was great to see the villages from the water.  I would suggest though, going first thing in the morning as by mid afternoon it was packed like a tin of sardines.
  3. walk between the villages if you’re a bit fit.  I’m not.  I chose to do the walk between Monterosso and Vernazza as I was told it was a lovely coastal stroll.  In reality it was uphill on rocky steps amongst olives groves and lemon trees (smelt awesome) for the first 3/4 hour and it did have some more uphill parts but that was the worst of it.  It took me 1 1/2 hours but it was amazing – the views were spectacular!  Depending which walk you do you’ll need to pay for the trail – here’s the link

 

stay

Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner for the most authentic airbnb experience of the trip!  I stayed at Nigu apartments hosted by the generous and beautiful Nicola and Greta. My experience started when I was greeted at the train station in Riomaggiore by Nicola who volunteered to drag my bag up the hill to the apartment – thank God!  Once I got over the wobbly legs and stepped into the apartment I was greeted by a cute seaside vibe, exposed timber ceilings, mod cons, a massive bed and a beautifully appointed bathroom.  Nicola and Greta had also left me focaccia to eat as they knew I’d been travelling all day along with a host of snacks to get me through the next few days.  On top of this they keep in regular contact to check I was ok (particularly as I had problems working the shower – user error!).  The icing on the cake is they offer a range of experiences like hiking, having aperitif and going to their home in La Spezia for a home cooked 5 course meal (which I did).  The planned 2 hour dinner was glorious and 5 hours later they dropped me home as I’d missed the last train.  They even gave me flowers from their garden and a gift as it was my birthday and I had just met them! I was made to feel like a local and I loved it! (yes, that’s my laundry hanging out the window to dry – Italian style)

So the Cinque Terre was where I found my bliss.  I had been here nearly 20 years ago with my Mum and had a wonderful time but this experience was really different.  Lots of fabulous food, sitting in a bar pondering my thoughts, walking and more walking and cruising around on a ferry (never thought I’d say those words!).  It was the circuit breaker I needed and 3 days was just enough time for me……..until next time.

Be fabulous xx

p.s. Keen to hear if anyone else has a favourite village/memory from the CT!