Monterosso al Mare





Traveling toward the Italian Riviera on the bus, the roads only take you as far as Levanto, where we boarded the trains to the Cinque Terra - “Five Lands” tucked into the mountainsides overlooking the sparkling blue sea.  Our hotel home base Albergo Amici in Monterosso al Mare was a surprise.  For the evening Aperitivo hour we met on the terraces into the hills above the hotel.  These terraces climbed up 3 levels over the rooftops with olive trees, lime trees, and finally vineyards reaching up to the hill top.  The view over the town and ocean at both sunset and sunrise were indescribable. Toasting with my tour mates on a warm October evening warmed my soul – this is Italy! Dinner that night was catered by an adorable older couple that cooked and served after a delightful homemade Pesto demonstration. We dined on pesto lasagna and white fish toasting with white wine. The meal ended with shots of Sciacchetra, the local dessert wine.  Saluti!



On our free day in the Cinque Terra we thought out our plan.  We can’t deny some beach time, so with the sun shining we grabbed our swimming suits and headed down to the public beach. So nice to sit in the waves and walk the sands. After a change at the hotel we hopped on the train and road out to the last town – Riomaggiore.  We stopped at the Bar and Vini A Pie de Ma, a scenic café at the beginning of the Via Dell’Amore- the trail of Love closed off with a gate covered in locks of love. Another “can’t believe I am here” experience happened on the terrace sipping white wine and eating fresh anchovies watching the crashing waves and trains going to the next town.   


Back to the trains and off to Manarola where we walked up the winding streets to the hilltop church of San Lorenzo and Bell tower then back down to watch the swimmers at the harbor.  In Corniglia, the challenge was the 385 steps up to the town from the station.  Known for its vineyards we stopped for a glass of wine.  Next stop the town of Vernazza, considered the most picturesque, where we climbed to the top of the castle - Castello Doria.


With Dinner on our own we reserved a table at Miky, another Rick Recommendation. We ate the “Pizza Pasta” – a bowl topped with a thin pizza crust that was flambeed at the table. Of course, we finished with the “Dolce Misto” – the mixed sampler plate of the best miniature desserts ever – perfect for two. From our outdoor table in the moonlight, we were lulled by the sounds of the ocean.


The lands surrounding the Cinque Terra are a National Park with trails between all the towns; however due to landslides only certain sections were open.  After getting a hiking pass (includes train tickets too) at the National Park office at the train station we decided to hike Vernazza back to our hotel in Monterosso. Fortified with Focaccia and Peroni we hiked the 2 hours over rough terrain, through olive groves back to our hotel.