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Hidden Gems of Cinque Terre

sunny 28 °C

On our last full day in Cinque Terre, we visited the final two small towns, Monterosso and Vernazza. Along the sea, we watched teenage Italian boys jump off a paved platform into the sea and get pushed up by the waves back onto the platform and land on their feet. Zavian also learned a new trick, how to hide in his stroller. Luckily, we found him. :) He also filled in temporarily for a dwarf! Lots of people seem to have little ceramic dwarfs from Snow White in their gardens or doorsteps. Zavian fit right in.

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We had a relaxed evening and per the recommendation of our new friends from the inn, Frank and Ninita, we went to another teensy tiny hillside town for dinner (as I write this I can't recall, its name, but will find it!). Frank and Ninita have spent a lot of time in Italy, as they can drive from Frankfurt where they live. Frank is an ears, nose and throat surgeon and Ninita used to work for NATO. Frank loves to motorcycle on holiday, so they have a special car that allows them to store the motorcycle inside and they can drive around, and then use the bike whenever they want. Pretty cool! Dinner, was nice, although we weren’t exactly sure where it was once we parked the car. We saw a lady walking and asked her where the restaurant was. She said there was only one place trattoria in the wee village, and pointed us in the right direction. To our surprise, Ninita and Frank were there, and we enjoyed chatting with them during our meal. They were both interested to hear how people from so far away were able to find these obscure, tiny places like L’Antico Borgo and Zita restaurant from the previous night. They had only found them in a special German book that is not translated into other languages. Naim borrowed Frank’s book one night, but it was in German (doh), so we couldn’t read it! We did all our holiday research on the internet, but we had to call a lot of places from the US to find our availability and information. I am sure both Naim’s family and mine will agree we spent a lot of time researching, bargaining and creating a humungous itinerary with every detail of our trip. Naim’s mum and sister Sulin also helped us do some research, and I still think Sulin should consider a career as a travel agent. She would be amazing!

For anyone planning a trip to Cinque Terre, we would highly recommend staying outside of the 5 tiny villages. They are small very cute, but somewhat isolated as walks between, if possible, can be 1.5 to 2 hours in length. Otherwise you must take a short train ride in between, and trains do not run all night. The town of Levanto, about 10 mins down the hill from where we stayed, is considered the gateway to Cinque Terre, and we were originally looking for accommodation there. It was so busy, we couldn’t find anything, so we had no choice but to look slightly further away. It was certainly the best choice (if you have a car). You cannot beat the amazing views, the feeling of being tucked away in a secret spot that other people don’t know about, but still close to Cinque Terre. Aside from our German friends, there were never any tourists where we ate and prices were cheaper. And we certainly cannot say enough about our fabulous stay at L’Antico Borgo.

Posted by jknazef 10:41 Archived in Italy Tagged terre cinque Comments (2)

Cinque Terre and the Walk of Love

28 °C

We left Rome in the late afternoon, on the 19 July. Everything seems to take a lot longer than expected here in Italy, or maybe this is just what happens when you have a baby. In any case, everything takes forever.

We left for what will be our longest drive while in Italy. We made three stops and hit some unusually wet weather. We were heading north towards Cinque Terre, to a hilltop location up winding and dark mountains. Upon entering the tiny village of Dosso around 10:30 pm, we parked outside and took our bags down a paved, but very steep path towards our B&B, L’Antico Borgo. For this time of night, the B&B was buzzing. A group of 5 English women travelling together sat in the living room planning out their next day’s adventure. An Italian couple had just returned from their day out and there were a few people sippng wine on the terrace. You could hear something going on in the kitchen and the entire place had the most amazing smell of cakes baking for tomorrow’s breakfast. The warm and exuberant signora took us up to our room, which was spacious and they had made up a cute little bed for Zavian. We quickly settled in for the night.

The next morning was bright and sunny as we headed downstairs for breakfast. We took a table on the terrace and were treated to a fantastic view. The previous night’s arrival in the late evening had not revealed how high we were in the mountains and the perfect view of the town of Levanto below us. The B&B was adorable, but by far, it was the staff that made the stay superb. We enjoyed cappuccinos and the most delicious breakfast, far better than you can normally expect in Italy! There was an assortment of homemade cakes, cereals, cheeses, salamis, fruits, freshly squeezed juices, homemade yogurt, breads and more. This place was tucked away in the mountains, a complete gem! Here are a couple pics of L’Antico Borgo.

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Breakfast on the terrace every morning
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View from the terrace
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The signora helped plan our visit of the area. Cinque Terre is a UNESCO National Park site and protected marina of 5 small fishing villages, each with their own charm and tiny street and alleyways to explore. You can take a train to visit the towns (only about a 5 minute journey to each), walk or bike between them. From afar, each of the villages have a characteristic pastel coloring and are peppered along the coastline. You can visit a few in a day, so on our first full day, we took the train to Riomaggiore, walked from there along the Via dell’Amore to Manorola, and then took the train to Corniglia.

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The Via dell’Amore is a great walk, paved well, and hugs steep cliffs with gorgeous views of the sea and some of the other villages far ahead. Along the walk, you see lots of love-related signs, art, sculpture and graffiti. You also see along the walk thousands of padlocks affixed to fences, doorways, anything. The pathway's legend holds that it was a meeting place for lovers from the two towns, and is now a favorite site for tourists to place their locks and throw the keys into the sea.

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We ended the day at a little local restaurant, Zita, in the neighboring village of Lavaggiorosso. Zita was a family-run place, and the beauty of eating there is that they have no menus. You choose from the various pastas, meats and vegetables they have that day and drink the only wine they serve. You eat very well, pay very little, and meet lovely locals. We met a nice Italian couple about our age who gave us some tips about Lake Garda, our next stop in Italy, a nice family with their cute 9 month old boy, Gabrielle, and the restaurant owner’s father, who told us about his travels all over the world while in the Italian navy. We also met Frank and Ninita, a couple from Germany who were also visiting the area. It turns out Frank and Ninita were staying at L'Antico Borgo, too, but we only learned that upon returning home after dinner, and they gave us some great suggestions for our upcoming trip in Lake Garda.

Posted by jknazef 16:23 Archived in Italy Tagged terre cinque amore Comments (1)

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