The 'Cinque Terre' or five towns, Portofino and a last look at Genoa.
On Saturday, 21st May, we ventured out of Genoa, yes in the Alfa. We travelled east from Genoa, initially seeming to spend as much time underground in tunnels as out in the open. It is an oft quoted truism that driving in Italy is never particularly easy, in fact it can be bloody difficult. We took the Autostrada to La Spezia, a fairly big town with a large port, 110 kms to the SE. From there we headed to the southern most and nearest town on the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore. Early views along the coast were spectacular and as the roads narrowed there was a revving up of excitement. (stimolo ad accelerare)
Riomaggiore is very much a tourist mecca as we had expected, and we had quite a walk from the carpark to get down in to the town. Views down in the town looking out at the azure Mediterranean were sensational.
A couple of tourists, among thousands enjoying the sights and coffee.
Then a seafood risotto while checking the footy scores.
After lunch we drove on to Manarola, another unique cliffside village. This place felt a bit more like a party town, everyone under 45 or so seemingly busy swimming, laughing and sipping an apertif or sometimes even a beer!
While you can drive to each of the Cinque Terre towns there are easier ways to get to them, noteably by ferry, by train and walking. There is a walking trail between each of the towns, hard going and the number of steps to be negotiated brought back memories of Nepal. We noticed many people walking between towns. The tracks were nicely signposted.
What was quite amazing about this place, apart from the brilliant blue backdrop of the Mediterranean, were the houses and small towns that were built in this incredibly difficult terrain. Many houses were 5 or more stories high. If you can't spread out, build up. And growing grapes for the Cinque Terre wines was also tough going. However, this has all been going on for centuries with the terraced fields, grape vines and olive trees part of the landscape. Now the wine growers had even constructed mini funicular rail 'trucks' to bring their grapes up the steep hillsides to the road. Jill is sitting in one of the carts and when they are going uphill (see pic) the vintners are lying back, face up to the sky, in a small cage as as they come up from their terraces below!
It was a long day, even though we never travelled great distances. The roads were 'exciting' and often so narrow that cars needed to back up in order to pass one another. And, some of corners had to be negotiated as 3 point turns!
On Sunday we headed out east again, this time not so far, just 40 kms to the very famous and iconic seaside village of Portofino.
Yes you have probably seen photos of this place before. It is where the rich and famous play and the working classes who can afford airfares and the odd beer, come to gawk. Shopping was available but a little out of our reach. Jill priced a nice embroidered round tablecloth, with a nautical theme and lo, €900 and you could have it! Alas, it is not in Jill's bag for the trip home? We enjoyed walking around the harbour and admiring the boats. Some beautiful yachts and polished wooden launches, 1930's style.
Now just a couple more photos around Genoa. The residence of Christopher Columbus and other bits of interest including one last shot of the freeway invading the port area. Also included in this selection is a shot taken inside the Fiumara Shopping Centre.
Tomorrow we drive to Lezzeno, on Lake Como. 7 nights, so there might even be time for fishing? Next blog is likely to be a few days away.
Ciao and arrivederci! 😜