Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wayfarers Walk: Cinque Terre and Italian Riviera

Vernazza, along the Cinque TerreOur main reason for traveling to Italy was to join The Wayfarers on their Cinque Terre and Italian Riviera walk, not just to wander around Florence, although you might agree that that was an exceptional experience if you watched the first slideshow, "Flo-rence, Part 1".

For those unfamiliar with this part of Italy, here is The Wayfarers introduction:

"The pathways and rocky terraces of the Cinque Terre were forged by the Romans as trade routes. Expanded by the residents of the remote and remarkable "Five Lands," they wind along spectacular bluffs overlooking the Mediterranean, linking five enchanting villages nestled in the cliffs and harbors of the "Italian Riviera." Pastel houses reach down to the sea. Terraced vineyards and olive groves are supported by walls hundreds of years old. World Heritage status assures the preservation of this precious land--its breathtaking natural beauty and cultural treasures. We walk the legendary Sentiero Azzurro and the Via dell'Amore. Their names recall the blue Ligurian Sea and the romance and passion evoked by this magical corner of Northern Italy."

The pictures and captions contained within the Flash-based slideshow capture most of our adventure, and the itinerary below will help with the route and chronology. So if you already have Adobe Flash Player installed, go ahead and click the picture above of the artist painting a picture of Vernazza to go to the second Italy slideshow, "Wayfarers Walk: Cinque Terre and Italian Riviera". If you need to install Flash Player, please click here. As with "Florence, Part 1", there are three different ways to view the show, so be sure to experiment with the different slideshow buttons.

Sunday, September 23: Nan and I took the train from Florence to La Spezia, meeting up with fellow Wayfarers hikers Burton, Virginia and Jean--all from the St. Louis area--along the way. Our guide Paolo and our trip manager Anna met us at the train station and drove us to our hotel in Portovenere. At the Welcome Dinner and Introductory Talk that evening, we met the rest of our hiking group--George from Des Moines, Jerry and Seena from Long Island, and Pauline and Barbara from Long Beach.

Monday, September 24: The Wayfarers van dropped us off in the morning near Campiglia and we hiked to Riomaggiore, the first of the Cinque Terre villages. After lunch, we took a ferry to Monterosso, the last of the Cinque Terre villages. Paolo said the trail between Vernazza and Monterosso was not very interesting so we wouldn't be hiking it, but he wanted to be sure we spent a least a little time in each of the five villages. We explored Monterosso and then took the ferry back to Riomaggiore.

Tuesday, September 25: At the Riomaggiore harbor, we started hiking the Via dell'Amore, passing through the second Cinque Terre village, Manorola, then up to Volastra and down to lunch in Corniglia, the third Cinque Terre village. In the afternoon, we hiked the seaside path to the fourth Cinque Terre village, Vernazza, where we caught a train to our hotel in Sestri Levante.

Wednesday, September 26: The Wayfarers van dropped us off above Sestri Levante and we hiked to Montellegro, where we ate lunch, explored the cathedral and then took the cable car down to Rapallo. We drove to Camogli, which was to be our headquarters for the next three nights.

Thursday, September 27: We caught the bus to the top of Camogli and then hiked through the woods to legendary Portofino, where we ate lunch, shopped and witnessed a water spout over the harbor. In the afternoon, we hiked to Santa Margherita, where we caught a train back to Camogli.

Friday, September 28: From the same spot at the top of Camogli, we hiked down the coast to Punta Chiappa, where we caught a ferry to San Fruttuoso, an ancient Abbey accessible only by sea or by foot. We toured the Abbey and village, ate lunch and then hiked again to Santa Margherita, where we again took the train back to Camogli. That evening we celebrated our successful adventure with a Farewell Dinner.

Saturday, September 29: Nan and I joined Burton and Virginia for a train ride to Pisa, then on to Florence for a couple more days before flying home.

Stay tuned for the final Italy slideshow, "Pisa and Florence, Part 2".

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