Over the past 6 days, Ben and I have enjoyed the five towns that make up Cinque Terra (literal translation in Italian: Five Town). They are everything the pictures show they are, beautiful, unique, set in picturesqe surroundings, and are a good example of how there are no more undiscovered cities sleeping quietly without postcard stands and tourists. I first heard about Cinque Terra 4 years ago from travelers over in Europe who described how they spent a week hiking between the cities which are connected by trails. I think that was about the time Rick Steves also found the place, and now it is no longer a secret. Of course, we make up the postcard stands and tourists (I realize that), but at the same time, I wasn't expecting the level of tourism that now inhabits the town...but I digress. We bought a 3-day hiking pass, and anyone who buys the 7 day one is crazy. The second day we were there, we decided to hike the whole trail. I asked Ben if he wanted to do it and his response? "Sure, we're young and in shape." Now the trail is about 5.5 miles long, but in some places it is rugged, hilly, with lots of stairs, etc., however the ocean side view makes the trip worthwhile. The next day, "Mr. In shape" and "Ms. Young" had a serious hitch in their giddy up and only hiked to one town that day... and contemplated taking the train back.
The biggest obstacle of the trails isn't the terrain, but rather our fellow travelers. At first, I thought it would be the Holy Hiking Poles. Somewhere in Germany, someone has made a fortune telling people they need hiking poles for the trails. They are named the HHP's because when fifty of them got off the train at once with their backpacks, tourguide holding a brightly covered umbrella and poles, the first words out of my mouth were "holy hiking poles." Yet, I'm not sure how much those poles actually get used...I only saw three sets on the trails. The true obstacle is the groups of Italian kids. They come in packs of at least 30, most likely on a field trip, and are never hiking on the trails, but sitting, waiting for their teacher(?) to catch-up. The problem is that they are oblivious to everything except their sunglasses, Nelly-sized belt buckles shining proudly and each other. No one else exists. Swear words were uttered when we would see them and we would brace ourselves, elbows out, to try and get through the packs.
Overall, we had a great time. The scenery was incredible, the gelato and limoncino exquisite, and we stayed in the cutest apartment surrounded by olive and lemon trees with the nicest owener, Senore Imere, who left us fresh lemons. Neither Ben nor I have ever had lemons like these ones. They smell the way you think lemons should smell, but have never actually experienced the aroma before. We dried some seeds to take back. We both acknowledge that there probably is a reason we haven't seen lemon trees in Oregon, but we'll try anyways.
Ciao! (pictures to come, I promise!)