Mediterranean Trip Report: Cinque Terre

I celebrated my 34th birthday last Friday. YIKES. It sure sounds old, hehe. I had a great weekend celebrating with good friends & family. 🙂

Rob’s been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto V lately (ie. monopolizing the TV) so I have time to write the next installment of this report…

Tuesday, September 3
The second port on our cruise was La Spezia, a city and province in northern Italy. At this port, most cruisers head to either Pisa or Florence. Pisa wasn’t that interesting to me (seems like there would be nothing to see there except the tower – please correct me if I’m wrong) and while I would LOVE to visit Florence (I’ve never been), the drive is 2+ hours each way, which I thought was way too long when you’re already dealing with limited port time. Hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to make it to Florence on a land trip someday.

In the end we decided to visit the Cinque Terre, which is a collection of 5 villages located along a rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera. Like Monaco, I originally thought we would explore on our own — I especially wanted to walk along Via Dell’Amore, which is an easy trail between Riomaggiore & Manarola, the first 2 villages, where there are supposed to be beautiful views. But after recent floods, that part of the trail has been closed. I kept checking to see if it opened before our trip but no luck.

The plan was to use the train or water taxis to visit a few of the villages but I got frustrated trying to figure out all the schedules so I finally decided to let Disney hold our hand again and I signed us up for the Cinque Terre Scenic Boat Tour, which was a half day trip — this would end up being the perfect amount of time since we had to rest up for Rome the next day.

The Disney Magic anchored at the port. I adored the ship. It just looks so stately. <3

We met our group bright and early at the Walt Disney Theatre then we were led on to our boat for the day. We found a seat at the top for the best views but also lots of sun and heat!

After leaving La Spezia, we sailed past a beautiful village named Porto Venere.

So beautiful.

The Church of St. Peter atop a hill.

As we sailed north, we began the approach to the Cinque Terre. These 5 villages are built along the cliffs blending in to the landscape and the whole area has been named as a National Park.

The first village we passed was Riomaggiore…

Then Manarola…

Then Corniglia. This particular village is positioned at such an angle where it’s not perfectly visible until just the perfect position as it’s set back and up the cliff quite a bit. This is the only village that’s not accessible via boat as there’s no harbor. Tourists can reach it by taking the train but there is still a steep walk upon arrival.

The fourth village is Vernazza and also where we made our first stop.

We did a quick walking tour with our tour guide and visited the main square, the church, and climbed a set of very steep stairs for a beautiful panoramic view of the village and its surroundings. This was also a portion of the trail that hikers take to travel between villages. I’ve read that the trail between Vernazza & Monterosso (the last village) is the hardest and longest and meant only for experienced hikers. Obviously not for me.

The walk was worth it — the view was stunning.

Our next stop was the last village Monterosso.

This is the only village with a “beach.” It’s not really sand, though — it’s pretty rocky.

We didn’t have too much free time here so we just walked through the shopping alley and purchased some local grappa for Rob.

On the way back to La Spezia the tour guides had different types of focaccia (with olives, tomatoes, anchovies, etc), which is a local specialty, and beverages for everyone to snack on since it was well past noon.

At this point I was so tired and the heat was really getting to me that I totally fell asleep! I tried to fight it but to no avail.

Passing Porto Venere again. I just love the beautiful colors.

And our wake looking back.

This was a great teaser of the Cinque Terre for us — and like all of the Italian ports we ended up visiting, we definitely need more time to take it all in. But at this point in our trip, it was nice to have a half day excursion to get back on the ship early, do some laundry, and take a much-needed nap. These early days were really doing a number on us!

For more pics, check our Flickr here.