Friday, January 4, 2013

Destination Italia: LA PIU’ BELLA CINQUE TERRE

Few places I have been in all my life conjure such magical memories as The Cinque Terre in Italy. So it came as no surprise to me when I recently read an online news article, citing a poll where Italy was voted the Top 2013 Vacation destination choice for Americans. Situated on the Italian Riviera, in the Liguria region of Italy, "The Five Lands" as it is otherwise known is to the west of the city of La Spezia and composed of five stunning cliff top villages hugging the coastline: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.  

Riomaggiore, Italy

The coastline and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the region offers up much more than just a great getaway vacation with sweeping panoramic vistas and pastel colored villas. Think of it like Positano before the Hollywood invasion. Here, one is easily transported back in time with picturesque rugged villages terraced into the mountainside, wharfs dotted with netted fishing boats and locals, connected by a series of trains, boats, and walking paths. Marking part of the area’s quaint charm is that with the exception of delivery vehicles and emergency responders, there are no cars allowed. Perfect for meandering by foot the narrow cobblestone streets which run in a labyrinth-like fashion through neighborhoods, under homes, around quaint shops, and restaurants which harmoniously co-exist next to centuries old chiesa and pasticcerie embellished with crystal chandeliers. A destination that attracts honeymooners & artists alike, food & wine enthusiasts, students on holiday & retirees, hikers, bikers, and nature lovers---those seeking a slower pace of life to rest & recharge away from the hustle & bustle of the big city & tourist-y meccas - The Five Lands certainly does not disappoint with it’s wide range of interests and activities for all ages.

Seaside warf

Spaghetti alle Vongole
Beyond the usual seafood fair, the region offers an amazing and tantalizing array of Italian cuisine that will delight and discern even the most gourmet palate. The area is particularly known for pesto, focaccia, farinata and heavily planted with lemon trees, which the locals use to make a spectacular limoncello drink and a fantastic limone gelato which is often served up on a half lemon at local restaurants and eateries throughout the region. Connecting the five villages is a walking path called the Sentiero Azzurro, or the "Light Blue Trail”, with a section from Riomaggiore to Manarola that’s called, the Via dell’Amore, or the “Walk of Love”. This easy walking/hiking trail offers breathtaking postcard views running the entire coastline perfumed by wild roses, honeysuckle, and lavender leading off to secluded alcoves, rocky sunbathing spots, olive groves, and well-cultivated vineyards which produce two of the regions internationally and critically acclaimed wines - The eponymous Cinque Terre and the Sciachetrà, the latter of which unfortunately has a two year waitlist in the U.S. and which we highly recommend.

the glorious view from our room

Questo è il mio paradiso incantevole! The place where I am instantly transported back in time whenever I catch the scent of caprifoglio. Here is the very place where I fell madly in love with the most incredible man I've ever known, as he entwined our names onto a stoney wall by the sea. A place we both reminisce most often about and fantasize countless times returning and retiring to. Now, into the beginning of this blessed New Year 2013 (our 6th together and 3rd Wedding Anniversary), we hope to finish the journey this time as a family, with our soon-to-be-born baby son.                



For more information please visit:  
Both are available in English 
For a great Riomaggiore B&B, we highly recommend La Terrazza, ran by two sweet anziane nonne ;-)  
Our Restaurant recommendation is TRATTORIA LA LAMPARA,
Via mal borghetto 8/10 - 19017 - Riomaggiore (SP) tel: 0187.920120