Cinque Terre: Calm After The Storm


I was in Milan, Italy for a two week stay for work and took advantage of the nice weather and went down to Cinque Terre, a rugged part of the Italian Rivieria, south of Genova. The name is Italian for the “Five Lands” and they are five very picturesque coastal towns, popular with tourists. I took the bus into town from La Spezia in the morning, I actually asked the bus driver to take me back up the coast on his way back so I could take pictures.

I could see a stormfront approaching and tried to get an angle on it. Once it arrived everything was washed out so I started walking downhill. It was raining buckets and everything was muddy and slippery, so I took refuge in an abandoned monorail – what did I say? Monorail! It didn’t seem to have a clear point of origin, or destination – maybe that’s why it was abandoned. My photo tour was off to a great start, here is a snap of the happy camper.

Rained out, taking shelter in an abandoned monorail, that’s right, a monorail

Rain during the day often makes for an interesting sunset – the weather cleared up and the Mediterranean sun dried everything out quite quickly. I made it into town, checked into my hostel and went straight to the coast. Manarola was now presenting herself from her best side:

Manarola in spectacular sun

The towns in Cinque Terre aren’t far apart, as the crow flies. There is also a nice walk along the coast appropriately called the Via dell’Amore. I wanted to take the walkway to the next town but the gate was closed – I thought due to the heavy rain. I asked in a cafĂ© in my broken Italian when it might be opening again, the answer was sometime in the next 2 years. Alrighty then. I don’t know why but I was against taking the 5 minute train connection – it’s so close! It’s nice out and I want to take pictures so I’ll hike there, I thought. Without proper clothing, shoes, sunscreen, a map, or a general idea of where I was going, I set out.

This is convenient

The trek started out pretty simple, with a convenient staircase. However, the further I got away from town and into the forrest the less the path was beaten. I didn’t see anyone (people) else for a couple hours.

This is less convenient 

The trail became harder to follow and was very steep. I felt like the I was one of the few tourists that made the mistake of going on the hiking “trail”. There also weren’t as many vantage points as I’d hoped. It was quite strenuous and I took off my t-shirt. Despite it being a wooded area without clearings and being a cloudy day I still managed to get a decent sunburn, minus the parts covered by my backpack. The sun did it’s best to come through.

Despite it being cloudy, with my Canadian complexion I still managed to get a sunburn
Cliffs near Corniglia

Based on the timestamps from my photos I can discern it took me around 3 hours and 30 minutes to get to the next town, Corniglia. I had made it to the second of the five towns! It only took a whole afternoon. I could have hugged the first people I saw.

Side street in Corniglia

At this rate I wasn’t going to be able to hike back, let alone make it to the next town and back before it got dark and I got eaten by wolves. I spent a little time in the town and had something to eat, went to a very inaccessible beach and eventually took the 5 minute train ride back and went down to the waterfront to go for a swim and cool off.

It was quite tumultuous on the sea that evening, the water was rising and falling in waves by at least a meter, which was a lot of fun but also a little life threatening, especially since there was no life guard on duty and the bay had lots of rocks just under the surface. One brave soul refused to get out of the water and stood on a rock to watch the sun go down.

Unruly sea in the dwindling light, f*cks given = 0

The sunset was very impressive, so I stuck around and took probably 50 snaps, trying in burst mode to get the splashes and clouds to line up – boom! I got something that I am quite pleased with. Not such a bad day after all.

Tumult at sundown, Manarola in Cinque Terre