Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cinque Terre: Noah Goes Inside His Desktop Background

For a full month at work, this photograph was my desktop background. It was also the first photo I ever posted to this blog, with the caption, "I want to go to there."

Yesterday, I was there.

The Cinque Terre are five quaint coastal towns connected by a hiking trail. These towns have vibrant colors, steep inclines, and typically one main road connecting the vineyards on the mountain slopes to the beaches below.

I dropped my bag at Cinque Terre Holidays, a hostel in Riomaggiore. The hostel looks nice in this picture, but I assure you it was not. Amenities included a two-foot-square hole in the ceiling (through which it poured rain), a door that does not lock, and a dirty shower with the shower head rubber-banded to a window. This is the first hostel I have stayed in which I would not recommend to another traveler. I can't wait to write my Hostelworld review...

Riomaggiore is the first of the five towns. It looks like this.

My friend from the train and I set off on our 9km hike. The first stretch was more of a stroll, and before we knew it we were in town #2, Manerola. Easy, right?

Not so fast. The next stretch to town #3, Corniglia, was slightly more challenging. The trail slopes gently up and down until... oh, Corniglia is on the top of a mountain. We took the stairs... about 300 of them. At the top was a pesto lunch. Pesto started here, or so I'm told.

Perhaps I am out of shape. Perhaps the trail was hard. Perhaps I shouldn't have eaten a giant bowl of pasta. Whatever the reason, the trail to town #4, Vernazza, was tough. But the view of Corniglia was worth it.

Around a few more corners, we found Vernazza. This is where I walked into my desktop background. It's hard to describe what I felt. This was the moment I imagined from my desk chair at McDonald's. And here I was, in a tiny harbor tucked away in the coastal cliffs of Italy. It was a culmination like I cannot describe, and certainly couldn't articulate to my hiking buddy. We rested at the furthest point on the harbor, looking back at Vernazza.

But the hike wasn't over. In fact, the hardest part remained. The trek to town #5, Monterosso, was a grueling uphill climb followed by a treacherously narrow trail. When we finally saw the town, and the beaches we knew were waiting for us, we were ecstatic.

In town, we swam in the ocean, drank beer and, of all things, played bocce ball. I have never been so relaxed.

We took the train back to Riomaggiore, showered, and ate a nice dinner with friends we met in the ocean.

We spent the rest of the night at Bar Centrale. It was the only thing open, and the dozen people there were the only people awake in town.

It was a perfect day.

Location:Riomaggiore, Italy


  1. Awesome! You had a set goal in mind, you sought it out and made it happen, amazing what we can do when we set a life quest. I can only imagine how you felt, congrats! K

  2. That sounds amazing! Still jealous.

  3. Thanks for all the comments Kim! I love hearing from you and knowing that you're following this whole thing. How are you!?

    Pilrezsa, thanks for your comments too. Who are you? :-)