Made up of five small hillside towns located along a six-mile stretch of the Italian Riviera, the area is designated as the Cinque Terre National Park.
By 7:30 am, J.J. and I were on a train from Firenze Santa Maria Novella to Pisa to transfer to another train for La Soezia and finally, we were sitting on a local train that services communities of Cinque Terre.
One can walk the entire stretch, but you need to purchase a pass. J.J. had no plans of walking and due to the briefness of our visit, the two of us compromised and agreed to limit our visit to two towns: Vernazza to have breakfast and Manarola for lunch.
Coming in from South to North, Vernazza, is the 4th town. It is very picturesque and requires no effort to capture its beauty of natural harbor, church to one side and a castle ruin on the opposite side. I can easily imagine ourselves comfortably settled here for a week taking in its charm.
Tuesday is Market day in Vernazza and we treated ourselves to freshly roasted chestnuts. We declined the tempting offer of a ride in the water taxi. It would have been fun, but our time was limited.
Breakfast consisted of a tasty cup of cappuccino and a tart. Then it was time to catch another train.
Manarola is a fishing village and throughout the town's Main Street, small fishing boats were parked.
Popular snacks for tourists are fried anchovies and fried calamari (squid) served in a rolled up cone shaped newspaper. Not enough benches. A large crowds of people walking and eating. The restaurant where J.J. and I sat down was empty. For an additional €2 per dish, our anchovies and calamaris were served on ceramic plates with forks and knives.
Carrara is a type of white or blue-grey marble of high quality. From the time of the Middle Ages, these were popular for use in sculpture. Today Carrara marbles are also being used as decor for high-end homes, office and public buildings. The quarries are located in the city of Carrara in northern Tuscany. We first caught sight of distant mountain quarries as we approached the train station of Carrara. Alongside the tracks were piles of rough cut marble blocks ready for shipping.
It was well worth the time and energy spent being 7 1/2 hours on the road to get a quick glimpses of the Cinque Terre National Park. I think it's worth setting aside a block of time to explore the towns on foot, train or by boat.
Aloha -- Cathi