Coastal Villages of Italy Offer Magnificent Views
by Leo A. Zabinski, CTC, MCC, DS
One of the breathtaking aspects of Italy is its magnificent coastline. Mountains and cliffs that follow along the waters edge make an unforgettable background for small illages that dot the landscape. One of the best examples is known as Cinque Terre ~ a string of five villages that were historically inaccessible until they were connected by railroad a few years back. Now they are a national park and a model of sustainable development.
My starting point was the major port of Le Spezia on the northwest coast of Italy. The first village was about a half hour by train to Riomaggiore. This village is as much vertical as horizontal, built on the mountains. The main street from the train station seems to go up about a 45 degree angle. The side streets are catacombs of endless stairs and short walkways. But here, like the neighboring village of Manarola, the centerpiece is a small harbor surrounded by mostly cliffs.
I walked the half mile between Riomaggiore and Manarola along an improved pathway that's relatively flat and offers spectacular views of the sea crashing on to the rock coast about 80 feet below.
In Manarola, the main street goes down another steep angle to the small harbor at the end of the road. I was tempted by one of the restaurants and succumbed to melt Fromaggio on focaccia bread. Its numerous terraced vineyards distinguish the third village, Corniglia.
Many consider the crown jewel of Cinque Terre to be the fourth village of Vernazza with its narrow streets, small squares and arcades reminiscent of a time long ago gone by. The shops and vendors have the most tempting of items. I gave into what proved to be the best gelato I've ever tasted. The main street winds its way at a slightly downward trajectory to a harbor and beach with outdoor cafes in one of the most picturesque spots on the globe. Don't miss Vernazza.
The last and largest of the five villages was Monterassa. It has a 12th century church, lively markets and small beaches. If you thought Italy was Rome - think gin. The Cinque Terre is Italy at its village best. While modern rails service lets you do it all in a day, you'll find, as I did, you'd like to linger longer.
(843) 705-8080 110 Traders Cross, Okatie SC 29909
| | | |
Copyright 2015. All Rights Reserved.