We headed to the weekly grower’s market again this past weekend, having been really fortunate with great weather during this changing of the seasons. And once again, taking it on foot as opposed to tooling around in my car makes it alllllll a new adventure.
I open with, of all things, a gelateria! Yes, Manja Mexi Movie, it’s here in my (almost) back yard waiting for you! Though I’ve not tried it, I’m told the owner is from Italy and knows his gelato! I’ll keep you posted if it’s legit 🙂
When I first discovered we wouldn’t be staying in any of the five dreamy villages of the Italian Riveria region the Cinque Terre, I was a little disappointed. Levanto, a town just north of the “fifth” town, Monterosso al-Mare, isn’t technically part of the Cinque Terre. But, as our trip had gone, and how Italy had not disappointed even one iota, Levanto – I quickly discovered – was the place to stay while visiting this ever growing tourist attracting Italian coast.
Between lazily swimming in the Ligurian Sea, hiking the cliffside trail between Vernazza and Corneglia, and gazing upon cliffs of grapevines and olive trees – oh, and eating the out of this world local seafood/food – our two days in the Cinque Terre and Levanto were utterly magnificent.
As a side note, it’s incredibly difficult to discern which photos to post, as I took so many throughout Italy. Cinque Terre was no exception to this dilemna!
Our first stop, the northern-most of the 5 villages, Monterosso al Mare.
Monterosso al Mare
North of Monterosso al Mare was our town of Levanto. We arrived late in the afternoon, and for dinner had one of the best meals there, a delightful Tuscan feast of local seafoods (and rabbit, and pesto that the chef made for us as a demonstration beforehand!)
Fresh mussels, anchovies, calamari, crab, bruschetta, pasta with pesto, risotto with porcini mushrooms. Profiteroles and limoncello. A very memorable meal.
Cinque Terre: Vernazza
A few pretty pictures in Vernazza while walking to the trail head entrance (above).
Leaving early gave us the narrow trail mostly to ourselves. We were told it can get quite busy, and my hike mates Paulette and Charlie were early birds like me; we made for pretty decent hiking partners 🙂
Looking back at Vernazza as we ascend the beginning of the trail. Stunning!
Most of the trail was narrow like this, with lots of up!
Lots of interesting flora along the way.
Gorgeous Ligurian Sea
Charlie checking out the Olive tree grove
A section of train tracks thru the hills
Some highlights from our hike (above).
Olive tree nets, which sure looked like hammocks to me!
The olive tree nets (sprawled out when harvested) sure looked like hammocks to me!
Pretty Cinque Terre
Corniglia in sight! Fortunately it was mostly downhill from here 🙂
Who’d have thought we’d get the royal treatment from two people we’d never met in person? And yet, here were Manja and Marco (now our good friends, I should add) spending a delightful day by driving us all around to some off the beaten path, and amazing, sites in Rome.
First up was the Protestant, or Non-Catholic, cemetery (“Cimitero Acattolico”)…
After the cemetery, Marco using his mad Rome driving skills, we headed for Gianicolo Hill, as every day at noon a cannon fires. We didn’t make it in time, so instead went to Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls. The 25 or so churches we saw were phenomenal – there are more than 900 in Rome alone!
I almost forgot – the most important highlight of the day (and every day): FOOD!
After a long overnight flight – friends Shawn and Emily flying in from San Francisco and meeting me at Philadelphia International airport – we arrived at our hotel by lunchtime, and once settled, staved off our jet lag by venturing out into our Rome neighborhood of Vatican City.
Day 1: Fresh air, food, exploring a bit, and making it to bedtime!