Friday, September 18, 2015

Italian Riviera and the Cinque Terre

A two hour train ride east of Genoa took us to Levanto, a small quaint coastal city just west of the Cinque Terre National Park, popular with vacationeers seeking sun, sandy beaches and an ocean getaway. Locals tell me that summertime is when visitors come for the beaches. From Levanto, we visited the Cinque Terre, a rugged section of coastline within the Italian Riviera featuring five ancient villages built on steep rock cliffs overlooking the sea and connected by a popular hiking trail. We hiked the hardest section from the village of Monterosso to Vernazza which featured at least 600 stone steps on an otherwise steep rolling narrow rocky ledge trail. The views were stunning but the three mile hike felt more like six. Fall is the prime season for tourist on the Cinque Terre trail, so it was crowded with long lines of hikers going in both directions. Passing was difficult and precarious if not impossible on the narrow trail. We also spent a relaxing day visiting Santa Margharita and walking along the coast to Portofino, two other premier cities within the riviera. Although we have enjoyed a lot of tasty food so far, the best restaurant to date is Da Rini in Levanto. It's truly gourmet dining at a reasonable price. Thanks Rick Steves! Da Rini will be hard to beat. Below are pictures from our days on the Italian Riviera.

Levanto on the coast and in the hillside.

Churches in this region have a distinct pattern.

On the Levanto coast.

Hiking from Monterossa to Vernazza.

Vernazza from the trail.

A tough hike and crowded on the trail.

Grilled Octopus in Vernazza.

Santa Margharita above and below.

Portofino below.

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