In between the hustle and bustle of city life in Venice and Rome, we traveled to the coast for a few days in the beautiful Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre means five lands, and it consists of five small towns built into the mountainside along the Meditteranean coast. Armed with castles originally designed to fend off pirates, the Cinque Terre is pretty much only accessible by train, boat, or hiking path. Until about a hundred years ago (before the train track was built), locals only traveled between towns on rocky mountain paths that are now available for hiking as part of the national park which envelops the region. The Cinque Terre was our favorite part of the trip. We stayed in beautiful Vernazza, the fourth of the five towns. It only has one main street running from the train station to the town square which is right up against the harbor. Hillside terraced vineyards line the mountainscapes surrounding the villages which are all painted in shades of pastels to make it easy for early fishermen to spot their homes upon returning from long days at sea. The advent of tourism in the 1970s hasn't squelched the small town charm that oozes from every cobblestone pathway, hillside church, and rocky harbor along the coast. The uphill hikes give way to the most beautiful vistas imaginable where brilliant aquamarine waters lap against the rocks. The sun sets every evening over the water; it is the most picturesque setting to enjoy fresh caught seafood, homemade pesto pasta, and a glass of local white wine.
During the days, we hiked, swam, and meandered through watercolor streets. In the evenings, we ate amazing cuisine and watched sunsets hand-in-hand before returning to our private terrace with a view of Vernazza and the Meditteranean for late night talks and the sounds of music coming from restaurants below. It feels like an exaggeration, but it really was that wonderful.
When we first arrived in Vernazza, we had a little issue with our debit card, and we weren't able to withdraw any money to pay for lunch or for our cash only hotel room, and we had a rough few hours. In a larger city, we could have resolved it more quickly, but our banking options were limited, and we were absolutely so hungry and annoyed from our 6 hour train ride, but once we got past that, things went uphill quickly.
On our anniversary evening, we had a wonderful dinner with the most beautiful sunset dinner view I have ever seen. That anniversary is going to be hard to beat. I think our favorite of the five towns was Manarola (below)....followed closely by our home base of Vernazza. Every town had its own charm and style. One night, I asked Jeremy what activities make him the happiest, and he said "just being chill and relaxed." That is so my husband, the chill and relaxed to my busy and active. But, the Cinque Terre taught me something about being chill and relaxed...and I think it's one of my favorite things now too.