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Instead of arranging a ship tour, we decided to hire a van and driver to visit the Cinque Terre. The cost was
minimal, $110 between 6 of us and the trip would take about one and a half hours drive each way and would include
about 5 hours to explore once there. Beautiful scenery on the way down, hillside
villages, mountains and lots of open space with farmers growing crops or raising livestock. Cinque Terre is located in the
province of La Spezia in northern Italy and consists of five towns, Riomaggiore, Manorola, Vernazza, Corniglia and Monterosso. The area is one of the most famous tourist areas in Italy and has been declared a
World Heritage Site.
Arriving at Riomaggiore, the first town of the Cinque Terre we soon discovered that the town was very steep. A wonderful village atmosphere existed here.
Quaint shops full of fascinating goods, (including many wine shops) as well as tourist usual souvenirs, but the most impressive thing was the buildings themselves. Tall, close and built of different stones took our attention.
We reached the water's edge and bought a ticket to cruise down to the last of the five towns of the Cinque terre and waited with
many others to catch the boat.
We passed towns and small villages on the way and could see the pathways along the cliffs that allowed people to
walk from one town to another. Wonderful vistas and we got off the boat at Carniglia to explore a small harbour that gave access to The parish church of San Pietro.
After some exploring we got back on the boat and continued onto Monterosso, the last town of the Cinque Terre where we enjoyed some of the
tasty food that this area is renowned for. After checking out the beach area, as it is a resort for the rich and famous, we
continued onto the train station and caught the train to the second last town, Manorola, so we could experience the walk back along
this scenic coastline to Riomaggiore, to meet our guide and return to the ship. What a delight! We walked through the Via dell'Amore, and other tunnels filled with art work or graffiti, however you look at it, spectacular sea views and all on a very pleasant day.
After a brisk walk for which the Cinque Terre is famous, we arrived back at Riomaggiore a little hot and bothered
but excited after such a fantastic experience. We were sad to leave this fabulous town but unfortunately the Marco Polo calls and
we have to return and continue onto our next destination.