Day six

Remember the hotel sign attached to our balcony? Sure enough, it is lit up like a football stadium at night. We came back from dinner last night and just laughed! Here we are lit up like Xmas in this sleepy, small coastal town. We shut the roll-down shutter which we are so grateful to have.

WE WOKE UP TO GRAY SKIES…and drizzle. Not the weather we have grown to expect. We were on our own all day today. The Big Deal here is to visit some or all of five fishing villages (collectively called the Cinque Terre) along the coast. They are connected by trails but are also served by a train and a boat. Our plan was to take the boat two towns down, but due to the weather the boat was closed today, so we walked to the train station for the 15 minute ride south along the coast. A first for us: the train was longer than the station, so we got off in the tunnel and walked the few yards to the station to exit.

Vernazza is a very quaint and cute fishing village that is a favorite with tourists. We explored the narrow lanes being careful of our footing since it was raining pretty hard. Nothing is on level ground so it’s all up or down … a lot of which involves  stairs and then more stairs. Very picturesque with the beach, small harbor, and hundreds of terraced fields on the hills. We ate out under umbrellas at a restaurant Josie found online. We all loved what we chose. When I asked for grated cheese for my pasta (penne with shrimp) the waiter said no, no, no (silly American woman), sea food is not served with cheese. Got it; lesson learned.

Trails link the five towns of Cinque Terre and hiking these trails is the main reason lots of people come. Landslides and rain can cause the trails to be closed from time to time. Right now only one trail is open, the one between Vernassa and Monterosso. The hike is recommended if you Love stone stairs, unlevel rocky trails, and don’t get nervous if there are far too few guard rails. We decided we fit the bill but only if it stopped raining since slippery, uneven, rocky trail with hundreds of steps might make us nervous.  Walk…don’t walk…walk…don’t walk? The sun peeked from behind the clouds and we decided now or never. We took off like a pack of rabbits stopping at the ticket station to pay a handsome fee of something like eight Euro per person for the walk. It took an hour and a half and delivered on all the promises + the added one of Quite Narrow in places. As in room for one if you are careful. Shot Daughter, Josie, and Dan lead the way and the boys and I brought up the rear. I really hold that honor, but they were sweet to linger over pictures and chit chat as I plodded along. We had beautiful views of the sea, crossed a couple of streams, saw close up the nets that are used to catch olives when they fall off the trees, hundreds of terraces, and a few homes/farms.

Monterosso was just as cute as Vernassa. We found an old WW II bunker, walked the town center, had coffee and gelato, and explored two churches. One had …wait for it… a skull and crossbones above the door on the outside and ceramic skulls and skeletons incorporated into the ceiling right along with cherubs. The other one had a black and white checkered floor and columns that were one layer white marble and one layer back marble and then white then black and then white. It shouted gondola. When we had our fill of charm, we took the train back to Levanto for the night.

Speaking of lemons, they are huge here and a bit rough on the outside. The not so secret ingredient in lemoncello.

The desk recommend a pizza place for dinner and Josie confirmed from reviews on the Internet that it is highly rated. So we met in the lobby at seven for the 2 minute stroll to the pizzaria. We Loved the pizza. For dessert we tried Nutella pizza which was amazing. Dan and Murphy each did a Limoncello shot. Free with the meal. A quick stroll along the water ended the day.

My only chores before packing are a) to shower in the, no kidding, 26″ square shower. That is the outside dimension, so subtract an inch or two and you’ll know it is quite snug inside. And b) lower the shutter to block out the lit-up-like-Xmas hotel sign on our balcony.


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