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Northern Italy Road Trip Part II

Author: Jim and Donna C. (More Trip Reviews by Jim and Donna C.)
Date of Trip: October 2010

Jim drove through La Spezia and on to Porto Venere. Pepe told us that Porto Venere was much better than La Spezia. He was right. It's much smaller and easier to get around. We found a parking spot, went to pay and a couple of ladies from Switzerland were having a difficult time getting the machine to work right. Jim gave them change for a 50 Euro note.

cinque terreWe talked with them for a while. Eventually we all got our parking passes and headed for the marina. We decided that we were going to concentrate on 3 of the 5 towns of the Cinque Terre. You can get to the towns via train, boat or driving and parking out of town and walking in. We opted for the boat so that we could get a better view of the towns.

The ticket for a round trip cost 22 Euros each, not inexpensive, especially at today's exchange rate. However, we had a pleasant boat ride, taking lots of pictures as we went by the towns. These cities are built on the cliffs. All vineyards and farming are terraced. Anywhere you want to go is up hill. We got off at Vernazza.

The first thing we did was have a cappuccino and walnut cake. We then checked out a little church that was behind us at the cafe. After that we walked around town. We found a little shop with paintings that we fell in love with. We purchased a print of a painting of Vernazza for 10 Euros. 

Then of course we found a tower that Donna wanted to go visit. We started up the narrow stair ways, sat on the steps, rested half way up, and finished our climb. We were rewarded by a beautiful view over the town. The tower itself had a very narrow spiral staircase. We opted not to go up it with all our stuff. The view we had was enough.

We had to wait for some time to get the next boat, so we had a Panini of ham, mozzarella and tomato, while we waited. We got on the next boat, an adventure in its self. The boat docks with its bow into the landing. A very narrow metal walkway on wheels is set from the bow of the boat to the landing. The wheels allow the walkway to move up and down with the boat. They also allow it to move from side to side with the waves. It is almost like a carnival ride.

Our next stopping point was Manarola. This was a larger town and not as pretty or easy to get around as Vernazza. What we wanted to do, however, was to walk the cliff side from Manarola to the town of Riomaggiore. This walk is called Via Dell Amore (The Lover's Walk). We found our way to the entry point and saw that this is considered a National Park.

The walk cost us five Euros each, we had to get a pin and Jim bought a lock so we could "lock our love" on the path. We started the walk. Not very far down was a fence with a lot of locks. The idea is to put your lock along the walkway and throw the key into the water. This ensures your love is locked forever.

We added our lock to the fence after writing our names on it, and threw the key into the water below. As you continue down the path, you can see locks everywhere. The walk is only 1 kilometer (less than a mile).

We reached Riomaggiore and realized that we were going to be about 1/2 hour late in getting back to our car. Oh well, if we get a ticket, we get a ticket. We really didn't walk around Riomaggiore, but we did have to walk through town to get to the marina. Getting to the marina is another adventure.

First you climb up narrow stairs, down winding paths with only a rope to hang onto and then venture out onto the rocks to get on the carnival ride of the walkway. We made it back to Portovenere one piece. Got to the car...no ticket, yeah!

While we didn't get a ticket, Jim found a 20 Lire coin tightly stuck between the driver's window and the weather stripping. Have no idea how it got there, but it certainly was no accident. Curious....

When we left this morning, we didn't know how to tell Giovanni that we wouldn't need dinner, so we weren't sure if she was going to try and feed us or not. Because of that we decided to try and find someplace in town to eat something light. If we're hungry later we have turkey jerky and cookies. Most places weren't open yet (only 1800), but we found a snack bar that had pizza. We both had a couple of pieces of pizza and then headed back to the farm.

Glad we headed back when we did, it's getting dusk. With the roads to the farm, we want to be able to see. We had an uneventful drive back, until we turned down the dirt road to the farm. We were partially down this single lane, when we came face to face with another car.

She tried to pull over as far as she could, but we still couldn't get by. I got out of the car to see if I could direct Jim through. Partially through I told him no way. I was sure he was going to side down the side of the hill. We finally backed all the way down the road and let the lady pass. Made it back in one piece.

Looks like we aren't going to get dinner, so it's jerky and cookies tonight. Another adventure. The remainder of the evening will be going over tomorrow's plans as we will be heading to Florence, catching up on the log and doing some reading. Probably another early night. That's OK.

Saturday, October 16, 2010 -- rain

Funny, both Jim and I woke up around 0300 this morning, don't know why. We tried to go back to sleep, only to wake up around 0700 am...breakfast is at 0730. Jim got a quick shower in while I packed one of my suit cases and got dressed. We got downstairs at 0735. We had bread with jams and honeys again, yum.

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