Beautiful Cinque Terre

I’m going to jump ahead (will write about  Pisa and Florence in a later entry hopefully) to a day I had been looking forward to very very much – visiting the famed Cinque Terre.

We were treated to a beautiful view of the bay as we headed to Cinque Terre. On the way  our tour guide discussed the issues facing this unique area. While to a visitor it looks exotic and romantic, this is not a life that has appealed to the young of the villages. Toiling on vertical cliffs in harsh conditions to produce the wine and produce of the region has not been appealing to the majority of the young people and many of the vineyards struggle to find workers. Yet there is some good news as the trend towards locally produced and sustainable produce has started to bring new life back into ancient cottage industries.

Obviously tourism is a huge part of the local economy and this has lead to many discussion on how to protect this fragile area. The Italian government are looking at restricting the numbers of people who can visit each year in an effort to cut down the 2.5 million annual tourists. It is a difficult problem as obviously everyone wants to come here and the tourist dollar injects vital life into the economy, but it almost impossible for the locals to go about their daily lives. 

We spent some time in the exquisite  Manarola and then travelled to Monteroso by ferry so didn’t get to stop at the middle villages but we could see the crowds of people at each one. Lots of people swimming which was frustrating as we didn’t have any swimming gear with us! The ferry was very hot and overcrowded but we managed to get a seat in the sea breeze on the upper deck and enjoy. The spectacular views.

On arrival in Monteroso we were left to our own devices for lunch and we found a tiny restaurant where they cooked delicious seafood in a compact open kitchen. Beautiful scampi risotto still sizzling as it arrived at the table. Then we wandered round the medieval square a bit, rolled up our shorts and paddled in the ocean. It was warm, crystal clear and incredibly salty. Sadly time was up way to soon and we had to head to the train to get back to our coach.

Photos below are a hodge pudge of the day, hope they give some sense of how special this part of the world is.










Tuscan meanderings

I’m quite behind in keeping up to date with everything we have been doing so will do a few mainly photographic entries in an attempt to catch up. This is the downside of packing so much into a holiday! 

The beautiful town of Assisi, home of St Francis was our next stop. As in the Sistine Chapel  there was no photography allowed inside. Instead we walked, marvelled, and listened to our guide tell the story of an amazing man whose Christian walk is as powerful and challenging today as it must have been all those centuries ago. There is something that lifts the soul as you wander this ancient hilltop city, a sense of the continuity of the family of faith.





Then an overnight stay in the beautiful town of Perugia. We decided to skip the organised tour of the town and had a peaceful evening watching the sunset while enjoying cocktails.




One of my favorite places so far has been our next stop, the hilltop town of San Gigminano. Just ancient and beautiful. I can’t explain how content it makes me feel to spend time visiting these towns, wandering these cobblestone streets and seeing the sun-soaked buildings. Coming from such a young country it’s as though I have been starved for this feeling of history and antiquity. We only had an afternoon but had plenty of time to sit in the sun, eat wild boar ragu and smooth creamy gelato.