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Cinque Terres (5 Small Towns)

Beautiful Italian view of the Mediterranean Sea..

sunny 32 °C

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7.11.05

I have heard of these 5 Italian towns ever since my first arrival in Europe. The crazy Canadian couple who stayed in the same hostel as myself in "The Flying Pig" in Amsterdam had ranted and raved about how magnificent the views were and their only negative comment was the size of the crowd flocking into the normally quiet Italian villages strategically located by the Mediterranean sea, simply to sample a taste of non-complicated Italian life by the sea. Most would leave disappointed.

Luckilly for me, by the time Gheri and I arrived at the first of the five quaint towns, the summer crowd were all but gone while the beautiful warm and sunny autumn weather lingered. As we only planned to make this one a day trip, little time were to be wasted as we started off exploring through the first town.

The first thing that struck me about this Italian seaside town is that every building is painted a different colour to its next door neighbours. The result of this was a kaleidescope of multi-coloured basic but sturdy brick and tile buildings laid clustered together, providing a constrast to the dramatic black cliff rock and cerulean blue sea backdrop that makes both the town and its surroundings such a gorgeous masterpiece of landscape painting on this Italian canvas.

As we make our descent from the top of the hill, and walking through the village towards the sea where the walking track starts from linking this first village to the next, we were greeted by shy smiling children and their more friendly looking parents as they go about their business benovelently playing along with our poor attempt to assimilate into their daily lives as if we too belong there.

In a way, it was very reassuring to see that the Italian village was exactly how I would have pictured them from watching movies depicting seaside Italian lives...Clothes line hanging overhead while you walk through the small alleys, old bicycles and scooters parked or rested against the side walls of the houses, small local shops with colorful hand painted signs appearing alongside residential houses with flip flops and japanese rubber slippers outside the front door, that sort of stuff. As I have gathered by now, despite the thousands of Japanese tourists that flooded such destinations, I discovered that the Italians are facinated by the eastern tourists, regardless of their origin or the fact that they're now more of a kiwi/westerner in atittude and dressing. The Italian men were of course indulgent and courteous (read rudely flitatious) in trying to involve me in a chit chat, much to Gheri's displeasure who murmured something that sounded very much like 'fanculo' (f*** off)whenever he thought I wasn't noticing.

We were told at the start of the walking track in the Tourist office that due to the torrential rain that hit the coastal area a few days prior to our arrival, we would only be able to walk from village 1 to village 2, then have to catch a train to village 3, and if we like, walk to village 4 before catching a train to village 5. While we were originally intending to walk the entire track to village 5, we thought perhaps this alternate walking and train riding might be a blessing in disguise, offering us a chance to see the towns from two different perspectives.

With the backdrop of beautiful blue sky, we set off, leaving behind the first town. The track was easy enough, about a metre wide concrete path hugging the cliff of the rocky mountain.

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Standing by the safety rail on the way from village 1 to 2.

As we walked, it was really hard not to notice how blue the Mediterranean sea was with the gorgeous cloudless sky provide little resistance or the sun to intensify the blue reflection of the sea, making it really a pleasant walk.

When we got to the second village, the buildings, houses were not that too dissimilar to the ones at the first village but the position of the houses were somewhat more dramatic in the second village, in that they were closer to the water and perched up high above the cliff. See picture below:

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Fantastic ain't it?!

Against such backdrop, we popped into the local deli where a friendly Croat who migrated to this village years ago served us the most delicious home made sandwiches this side of western Italy! Fresh bread, meat, olives and cheese...Bellisimo!!

We then caught the train to the 3rd village which I must say was perhaps the least colourful of the 5 villages in terms of the houses or the natural view. Perhaps it could also be due to the fact that this is a 'working' village in that there's lots of olive estates surrounding the village and also small wineries around. As the day was starting to get later and later and we were worried we might run out of time, we quickly walked through the jungle track to reach the 4th village.

When we emerged through to the 4th village, poor Gheri was covered with pine needles all over his track pants. I was too busy to notice as I was gobsmacked by the beautiful sight that greeted me. This gorgeous settlement proved to be different to the other three villages in that there was a large military fort complete with a watch tower and lighthouse built around the 18th century. This village was also a fishing village. We didn't hang around long though, having to catch the 2nd last train to the last of the 5 villages.

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Military fort at the 4th village

Of all the local small towns, the 5th village is the only one that boasted of having a decent beach that would be tempting to locals and tourists alike after a hot summer day. It was almost 8pm, the sun was departing..but that didn't stop a bunch of young American (but of course) tourists giggling and squealing all the way during the train ride. You just knew that you're in for a bit of entertainment and the yankees did not disappoint!

As soon as the train came to a halt outside the local train station which was just opposite the beach, the Americans poured out and raced one another to the beach. The girls couldn't take their tops off quick enough before running into the water in their bikinis to the delight most of the local men, their delight only marred by the pain of being swiped at with their wives' handbags.

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Beach front Italian village..ooh la la..

It was indeed a beautiful trip..we missed the train we wanted to catch. Gheri was really annoyed thinking it was the last one, but luckilly like many a time before, he was wrong!!! We did manage to catch the next one that took us all the way back to the first village and luckilly for us, our car was still where we parked it. As we had made a booking for a place to stay in Florence, we had to make our way there, 1.5 hours drive away. What an awesome day though spent in Italy's lil treasure paradise..all 5 of them!

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View of the sunset (and the moon) from the shore at the 5th village..

AO Rating: Wonderful place to visit definitely but definitely not a place to easily occupy yourself for too long so perhaps a day or two would be ideal and sufficient to enjoy this coastal delight.

Posted by Makissie 22:54 Archived in Italy

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Do you remember the names of these towns? :)

by sosweetss10

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