(CHINK-weh TAY-reh)

Tuesday, (June 21) I made my way from Ravenna to the coastal town of Monterosso in Cinque Terre (pronounced chink-weh tay-reh).  I took four local/regional trains; Ravenna to Bologna, Bologna to Florence, Florence to La Spezia and La Spezia to Monterosso (in Cinque Terre).  My first train was so full that I didn’t have a seat- I rode in between cars.  This sounds bad, but I actually had a lot more room there, and a great view.

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Once I arrived in Monterosso, I started my journey on foot to the monastery where I was going to be staying.  I was told the wrong street number three different times, so what should have taken me 10 minutes, ended up taking about an hour.  One could say that I took the very, very scenic route. Once I got to the monastery, I got settled, showered and took a short nap.

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Cinque Terre cuisine is best known for three things: anchovies, pesto and focaccia bread.  For dinner, I had both fried, stuffed anchovies and pesto! Even if you don’t like anchovies (which I don’t usually), they’re worth trying in Cinque Terre.  They taste completely different and are actually quite delicious.

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Day 1: June 22 (first full day) 

After breakfast, I headed out to hike along the coastal Cinque Terre trail.  This trail runs through the five towns that Cinque Terre is named for. The five towns are 1) Monterosso (where I stayed), 2) Vernazza, 3) Corniglia, 4) Manarola and 5) Riomaggiore. Unfortunately, because of recent landslides, only the trails from Monterosso to Corniglia were open. In total, this section of the trail is about 4 to 5 miles. The Monterosso to Vernazza section of the trail was mostly uphill through the woods, with great overlooks onto the ocean.

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Once I reached the town of Vernazza, I walked down to the small beach located there for a snack and swim break. Unlike most of the beaches in Cinque Terre, this one was a sand beach- the majority of the beaches in Cinque Terre are rock or pebble.

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After about an hour in Vernazza, I headed to the last town accessible by the trail, Corniglia.

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When I got to the outskirts of Corniglia, I stopped at a small cafe for a frozen lemonade. It was made with locally grown, fresh squeezed lemons. So delicious and refreshing!

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Once I got into the heart of Corniglia, I found a place to eat dinner. I had pesto lasagna- sooo good.

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After dinner, I took the regional train from Corniglia back to Montesrosso.

Day 2: June 23

I woke up with every intention to go to the world famous marble quarries in Carrara- a small town about 45 min away from Monterosso. When I got to the train station around noon, there was a lot of chaos; people lined up out the door of the ticket office, seemingly frantic. After asking around, I figured out that all the panic was because the railway workers had scheduled a strike for the next day.  Since the strike was supposed to start the next day, I thought it would still be possible to make it to Carrara to see the quarries. Silly me for thinking that. Silly railway workers for striking. What should have taken 45 minutes total, ended up taking about four hours to make it only halfway to Carrara.  The delay meant that I wasn’t able to get to the quarries before they closed at 6.  I decided to cut my losses and head back to Monterosso so I could salvage the rest of my day.

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Since I didn’t actually get to Carrara, here’s a couple of pictures that I took in passing on the train into Montesrosso on Tuesday.

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When I got back to Monterosso, I went and sat on the beach for a while. I found an umbrella to sit under and had a glass of wine.  It was a nice way to unwind after a day of frustrating, unsuccessful train travel.

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I went back to the monastery and packed up to leave early in the morning. I am continually amazed that I’m able to cram everything back into my pack. I’m pretty sure I’ve dethroned my dad for the title of “Master Packer” in our family…

Thankfully, my train from Montesrosso, Cinque Terre to Turin the next morning was not supposed to be affected by the strike.

I take two regional trains; one from Montesrosso, Cinque Terre to Genova and then from Genova to Turin- where I’ll be for a couple days.

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