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Posts tagged ‘Cinque Terre’

Thursday Doors: April 21, 2016

My Favorite Door in Manarola, Cinque Terre, italy

My Favorite Door in Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

The View of All that Quirkiness, Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

The View of All that Quirkiness, Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Today for Thursday Doors we are in Manarola, one of the five villages in Cinque Terre, Italy. We stayed at the tippy top of this small village and would walk down everyday to the harbor or train station. These are some of the doors I observed along the way! My favorite is the first Pale Blue Shutter Door! Quite quirky, don’t you think? That entire building was quirky from the porthole windows to the cement gate pass through! What about that wrought iron railing made up of different finds? I liked the curly ques placed at the top of the cement arbor too. The walkway was narrow so I could get up close and personal to study all the finds near this door!

More Sea Blue to Add a Touch of Contrast

More Sea Blue to Add a Touch of Contrast

Here a Touch of Green Goes a Long Way

Here a Touch of Green Goes a Long Way

Why Not Add a Bit of Red to Draw Your Eye?

Why Not Add a Bit of Red to Draw Your Eye?

Manarola may be the oldest of the villages in the Cinque Terre, with the cornerstone of the church, San Lorenzo, dating to 1338. The name Manarola is a form of the latin worlds “magna rota” which means “large wheel” in reference to the mill wheel in the village.

The Teeny Tiny Church Door of San Lorenzo

The Teeny Tiny Church Door of San Lorenzo Church

Notice the bell above the church? As part of the history of the church, we learned that at one time the priest liked to ring the bell a lot, to remind the villagers to come to Mass. The villagers pleaded with him to stop all the ringing, day and night, to no avail. The priest was found murdered in the church and the bell no longer tolls! No one was ever prosecuted for the murder either!

A Door With A Lot Going On Above It

A Door With A Lot Going On Above It

In the picture above one could jump out the window, scoot across the walkway and be gone on the next roof!

A Stroll Along Narrow Walkways Through the Village

A Stroll Along Narrow Walkways Through the Village

Most of the residents in Manarola are involved with the fishing or wine-making industry. The local wine, Sciacchetrà, is well known, and the high quality wine of the region was noted in Roman writings!  The only way to get around the five villages is by train, boat or the hiking trails in the hills and vineyards above the towns, which makes up the Cinque Terre National Park. To read another post about Manarola look Here. You can collect charms that represent each village in the Cinque Terre, to make a bracelet or necklace. To find out how to get the Cinque Terre Charms look Here!

What’s your favorite Door ?

This is just one of many photos in the Thursday Door Collection featured by Norm2.0!   Won’t you join in or take a peak at all the doors?

Color Your World: 120 Days of Crayola; Turquoise Blue

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, Italy

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Ligurian Sea off Coast of Cinque Terre, Italy

Ligurian Sea off Coast of Cinque Terre, Italy

Vernanzza, Cinque Terre, italy

Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy

Day 105 of the 120 Days of Crayola! Hey, we’re getting there! Today let’s look at the beautiful Turquoise Blue Ligurian Sea off the coast of Cinque Terre, Italy! The “Five Lands” are made up of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park. Over the centuries, the villagers have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea.  Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, but cars cannot reach them from the outside. This is paradise on earth!

How About a Hike Up These Stairs!

How About a Hike Up These Stairs!

The variation of house colors resulted when fishermen, doing their jobs just offshore, wanted to be able to distinguish their houses with ease!  Most of the families in the five villages make money by catching fish and selling them in the small port villages. Fish is also their main source of food.

The Trail in the Cinque Terre National Park , Cinque Terre, Italy

The Trail in the Cinque Terre National Park, Cinque Terre, Italy

Part of the trail in the Cinque Terre National Park from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the  Via dell’ Amore or Love Walk. Here we see that locks have been placed on the fence line by romantic lovers. For more posts on beautiful Cinque Terre, just click on the tag in the list to the right!

The Love Walk, Cinque Terre, Italy

The Love Walk, Cinque Terre, Italy

Turquoise Blue was added to the Crayola lineup in 1935, but was only available in bulk until 1949, when it was added to the assortment of colors.

This post is just one of many in the Color Your World: 120 Days of Crayola Challenge

Check out some of the other 150+ challenge participants, it’s amazing what we have done with the Crayola colors!

By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea!

The Pirate Lookout and "Pillbox"

The Pirate Lookout and “Pillbox”

We are off today to the resort town of Monterosso al Mare, the only Cinque Terre town built on flat land, with two parts: The New Town (Fegina) to the left as you get off the train and the Old Town (Centro Storico) to the right.  A long pedestrian tunnel connects the old with the new.

The Promenade

The Promenade

We stroll the waterfront promenade and can see all five Cinque Terre towns along the coast. Looking up we see the sixteenth century pirate lookout tower and down below the Nazi “pill box”, a small low concrete bunker where gunners hid in World War II. Heading into the Old Town there are dozens of little shops, restaurants and skinny, winding streets to explore.

The Village Shops

The Village Shops

Outdoor Cafe in Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy

Outdoor Cafe in Monterosso Al Mare, Cinque Terre, Italy

We come to a small jewelry store and a sign outside in the window attracts my attention. It shows a necklace created “step by step” while walking the Cinque Terre.

Step by Step Charms of Cinque Terre

Step by Step Charms of Cinque Terre

There is a shop in each Cinque Terre town offering a bronze or silver charm with the name of that village, to complete a necklace or bracelet. I go inside La Gazza Ladra and the kind woman explains the procedure to collect the charms to me. I purchase a charm that says Monterosso in this shop and receive the charm and a passport, so to speak, that shows where the charms are located in the other four Cinque Terre towns.

The Step by Step Passport

The Step by Step Passport

In every town I must go to that shop, purchase the bronze or silver charm, get the passport stamped and when I am down to the last town I pay one euro for the last charm.  You can “Step by Step” the towns in any order. The necklace is lovely when completed. The shop owner shows the intricate knotting she has done between the five charms and added a beautiful clasp.  I have a small problem though.  I have walked four villages already and leave Cinque Terre tomorrow.  Hmm….. What to do.  I do the only sensible thing really.  I look at SB, who shrugs and says why not? What a guy!!!  I buy the charm, my first charm in bronze, walk out with my charm passport and go have a coffee to determine how much time it will take us to go back to all four of the other Cinque Terre villages and find these shops. It will make a lovely momento of my time in Cinque Terre.

After our coffee we explore Monterosso. We walk to find the Church of St John the Baptist, called the black and white church, with white marble from Carrara ( the famous Leonardo Di Vinci Carrara marble) and dark green marble, which looks black, from Punte Mesco, above the village.  There is a lacy stone rose window above the entrance to the church. The church is beautiful inside and immaculate.

Saint John the Baptist Church

Saint John the Baptist Church

The Sanctuary of St John the Baptist

The Sanctuary of St John the Baptist

The Altar of St John the Baptist

The Altar of St John the Baptist

There is also another church right across the way from St John the Baptist, and it is the most outstanding and different church I have ever been in. It is called the Oratory of the Dead.

Outside the Oratory of the Dead

Outside the Oratory of the Dead

The Oratory of the Dead

The Oratory of the Dead

The Skeleton Motiff

The Skeleton Motif

Skull-and-Crossbones

Skull-and-Crossbones and Hourglass

The Black Jesus in the Oratory of the Dead

The Black Jesus in the Oratory of the Dead

During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church created brotherhoods of good works, called confraternities, to compete with the rising influence of Martin Luther. This church building is the oratory of the black group, a group whose mission was to arrange funerals, and take care of widows and orphans of lost sailors. The confraternity dates from the 16th century and membership is passed from father to son.  It has a beautiful black and white haunted house decor with skeletons and crossbones, a black hand-carved paneled choir stall adorned in skeletons and skeletons among the cherub angels.

The Choir Stalls of the Black Oratory

The Choir Stalls of the Black Oratory

I have never seen anything like it. We explore another church up the hill which has ships hanging from the ceiling and a nautical themed sanctuary.   Enjoying the sunshine we walk back through the pedestrian tunnel to the promenade of the beach to New Town.

The Beach at Monterosso al Mare

The Beach at Monterosso al Mare

This beach front of the village is perfect. There are tiny outdoor cafes, a beach with sand and swimming framed with expensive looking neighborhood villas right up to the sandy shore line.

The Beach Neighborhood

The Beach Neighborhood

People are swimming in the sea, those brave souls, the rest of us are still donning our coats and scarves.  A new stone building reveals architectural additions that start on shore and flow to the sea.  At the end of the building is Il Gigante, a look alike rock formation actually made of reinforced concrete originally constructed to support a dance terrace.

Il Gigante

Il Gigante

DSCN0603
We walk back along the beach and eat at one of the outdoor cafes and finish up with gelato before we head back to the train station to make our stops at Vernazza and Corniglia for the charms. While in Corniglia I also decide to go back to Fanny’s Bazar and buy two fish dishes. I kept thinking I would like two small fish dishes and decided  I could stash them in my carry on so they wouldn’t get broken.

My Fish Dishes

My Fish Dishes

I buy the silver charm in Corniglia since it is my favorite Cinque Terre village. By late afternoon we are in Vernazza and I have gathered three of the needed charms. We see our Aussie friends at an outdoor cafe (A shout out to Fee, Wes and Kathy!) and enjoy their company over drinks before taking the train back to Manarola and our last evening in this magical beautiful town.

For more information about the Cinque Terre, Step-by-Step charms in Montorosso al Mare see: La Gazza Ladra di Alessandra Pampari, Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, Moneterosso al Mare, La Spezia, Italy        Phone:+39 0187 817068

Vernazza, Under the Weather

St Margherita Church, Vernazza Italy

St Margherita Church, Vernazza Italy

It’s raining AGAIN. Back through the tunnel, back to the train, we are going to Vernazza this morning.  Vernazza literally fell into the Ligurian Sea in 2011 due to a huge mudslide in October of that year.  All reports now show progress and things are slowly getting back to business.  Unless you see the flood pictures (the before and after) you can’t appreciate the tough times Vernazza and its 500 citizens have been through. Every shop, restaurant and hotel on the main street had to be dug-out, re-wired, re-plumbed and re-equipped in 2012.  Here are pictures showing what Vernazza was up against.

Vernazza During the Flood

Vernazza During the Flood

DSCN0465DSCN0464

There are three ways to get around Cinque Terre; by foot, by train, or by boat.  This week the paths between the villages are closed for the most part.  There are mudslide warnings.  The sea is not co-operating either, much too rough to pull up and moor. So we are training again.  Our look at Vernazza on this rainy cold day, with it’s natural harbor, overseen by a ruined castle and a stout stone church.

New Main Street in Vernazza

New Main Street in Vernazza

DSCN0419

The Harbor at Vernazza

The Harbor at Vernazza

The Remains of the Castle

The Remains of the Castle

The Hiking Path above Vernazza

The Hiking Path above Vernazza

The Harbor at Vernazza

The Harbor at Vernazza

A group of American women, who married into the community, organized a project which brought relief to their town in the immediate aftermath of the flood and is now an organization to help preserve and foster tourism.  For the latest on the town, the recovery and their activities visit. http://www.savevernazza.com.  Thanks!

How Many Steps Did You Say There Were?

Corniglia

Corniglia

We’re waiting at the train platform in Manarola.  The sun is shining, but I am dressed like an Eskimo. Layered up I have on a long sleeved shirt (check), long pants (check), rain coat (check), scarf wound around my neck several times (check), the thingy ma jig wrapped around my head and ears (check), and my hiking boots and wool socks (check).  Yep, I’m definitely on an Italian Riviera holiday!  Walking through the tunnel to the train station I felt sorry for the woman playing the violin. It was even colder in that tunnel. She had to be freezing and her fingers numb.  There are many hikers waiting at the train station too.  There has been so much rain the hiking trails are closed for fear of mudslides. The hikers are wearing shorts, coats, big backpacks with what looks like TV antennas sticking out of them (their hiking poles) and everyone looks COLD. I am not a happy camper this morning.  Then I see my Australian friends that I met in Chiuso and traveled on the train to Florence with.  We have a good robust talk and it lifts my spirits.  There are just some people you hit it off with immediately and this is the group.  They are always smiling, laughing and talking. I am reminded that there is no bad weather, just improper clothing.  I have on the proper clothing, so let’s go! My friends are off to Vernazza this morning and SB and I are off to Corniglia. Stand back, when the train flies in it can blow you right off the platform!

Corniglia, population 240, is the least touristy town in Cinque Terre because it does not have an ocean view beach front. It is remote with only a small number of restaurants, shops and inhabitants, but for some reason that is where I want to go today. Only three people on the train get off here, we are two of them.  The train station in Corniglia is small and it is not a long walk to the tiny uphill street where a green shuttle van for the locals waits. Here we have to make a decision.

DSCN0540We can walk up the 380 stone steps to get to the village or do like the locals do and get on the green shuttle town van. We opt for the van and in a few minutes we are in the tiny town circle.  The town square is a town circle. There are a few people milling around and to the side of town circle a cart is set up selling cheese and sausages.  We decide to walk higher up the hill to get a better view.  There is a small enotecha notched into the hillside with an entrance of glass bottles filled with wildflowers.

The Bottled Wildflowers

The Bottled Wildflowers

DSCN0488  Some travelers are sitting outside under the terrace wrapped in their coats willing away the cold.  Across from the enotecha the cliff drops off to the sea and is covered in grapevines. What we notice is the rail, one you would see on a roller coaster and a cart sitting on the rail.  It is a cart to carry the picked grapes up the hill or down the hill, which ever may be the case.

The Grape Rail

The Grape Rail

DSCN0482DSCN0476We walk back down to the town circle and take a look at the notch in the wall of buildings to see what is down the only walkway, a characteristic alley called a carugi, through the village. DSCN0470 To my surprise there are several restaurants, grocery shops, boutique shops, wine shops and gelato stops with a two foot wide stone center aisle separating the two sides of the walkway and shops on either side. Bonanza!  I check them all out. I am fascinated by the design and decoration of the shops.

Shops in Corniglia

Shops in Corniglia

DSCN0493

The shops are tiny, offer unique gifts locally made and I can practice my Italian with the proprietors.  What more could I want?  One of my favorite shops turns out to be Fanny’s Bazar with Sondra Righelli the proprietress.  I like her fish dishes.  That’ s what I call them.  Pottery shaped in three sizes of fish, all painted in bright colors.  How can I get those home without breaking them?  Then there is the rope lady.  She makes necklaces out of rope that looks like it has tied a boat to the wharf for a few centuries. The rope is woven and twisted with a shiny rock or two looped in to make each necklace unique. DSCN0501

We walk all the way to the town overlook of the sea. It is still sunny, blustery and cold up here, but the view is worth it. There is cactus and wildflowers in full bloom.  The seagulls make big swoops along the edge of the wall.  The ocean roars below.  The view is incredible.DSCN0506 We turn to head back to town circle and decide to eat at one of the stone caverns called Osteria a Cantina de Mananan, that we passed by earlier in the day. We walk up a few stone steps and inside the warm cozy cave  we are greeted by a smiling mischievous looking grandfather type who seats us at a table.

Osteria a Cantina de Mananan

Osteria a Cantina de Mananan

He tells us the meat sauce is made fresh daily along with the pasta. No second thoughts for me, pasta sounds wonderful. We enjoy the pasta, bread and local red wine along with our table mates who were from Minnesota. We carry on a delightful conversation with the proprietor, “Grandfather”. I really could have stayed in this small village the entire week, I liked it so much. As we waited for the shuttle bus back to the train station I had a good long  “Italian” chat with a local woman.  Maybe I should drink more, my Italian seems to get better. Maybe I’m just not worried if my Italian is correct or not.  She understood me and I understood her.  It turned out to be a perfect day!

Don’t miss Corniglia!  It turned out to be my favorite place in Cinque Terre! You can find  Fanny’s Bazar, the rope necklace shop and Osteria a Cantina de Mananan easily. Just climb 380 stone steps to the village of Corniglia, make a left at the town circle, follow the carugi between the buildings and have a fantastic day!

And the Rains Came to Manarola

Manarola Vineyards at Night

Manarola Vineyards at Night

The rain has not let up all night.  The wind is fierce against the apartment windows. I wonder if the wind will carry away the crucifixion scene lights on the vineyard across the way and what the path through the vineyard to Corniglia will be like tomorrow. I don’t have to wait long to find out.

The Vineyard in Manarola in the Morning Light

The Vineyard and Path in Manarola in the Morning Light

At daybreak it is still raining and blowing. We hear someone outside our door and look to see who it is.  A large picnic basket filled with warm bread and pastries has been tied to the door.

The Morning Breakfast Basket

The Morning Breakfast Basket

There is already ample cereals, milk, jams, and assorted coffees and teas supplied in the kitchen, but who can turn down warm bread and pastries? We take our time eating breakfast hoping the weather will perk up.
It doesn’t. I ask my husband, “What shoes did I bring to wear in the pouring rain and look good in mud?”  Hmmm……  Hmmm……  Didn’t I see a hiking supply shop on the hill walking up here yesterday? We bundle up and step outside.  The wind is buffeting us through the small passageways and moves us right along. I’m freezing.  I keep hearing running water.  I look down at the drain along the side of the road and realize there is a river running through it.  The river is about six feet below the ground and moving right along. The wind keeps us moving too. In 2011, Vernazza, one of the Cinque Terre villages, was washed into the sea by a massive flood. They are just now getting things back to order from the massive mess. That is the kind of day it is, will we be washed into the sea? The hiking shop is small but offers shoes, socks, jackets, scarves and a washing machine that is washing away at the front of the shop. Hikers can wash their clothes here.  I bet they do a big business, what a great idea. I look over the hiking shoes.  I see a pair that looks just like me.  Practical, comfortable, and a little weird.

The Cool Hiking Shoes

The Cool Hiking Shoes

The laces lace all the way to the end of the toe.  I haven’t seen shoes that look like this before.  As we  leave the shop I ask about the river below the street.

“As long as the river is moving below the street it won’t wash us out above the street,”  is the reply.  “The water moves from the hills to the sea underground.”  Well that’s a relief.

Along with the hiking shoes, I bought a scarvy thinky that can be wrapped in several styles around my head, neck or just ears and I think it looks spiffy and keeps my head warm.  We continue our walk down the hill to the main street of Manarola. Restaurants are closed and so are the shops. It is eerie. The boats in the street are covered up. At the sea wall we take the path around the sea edge. DSCN0637 There are not too many people out, too blustery, too rainy. We make our way back to the main drag after a while and decide on a cafe that has a terrace covered in a heavy plastic wind shield so you can still dine outside and see out.  We take our seats and take our time.  No need to rush about.  Several other guests have done the same. Suddenly an Italian woman sitting  at the front table near the exit gets up to go. She starts screaming that her borsa (purse) that she had hung over the back of her chair is missing.  The screaming turns to frantic cussing as she goes to all the tables looking for her bag. Her husband helps her look and tries to comfort her.  She still screams. The women all check out their purses to make sure they are where they put them.  This would be a nightmare for any woman. She eventually leaves none too happy.  The manager did try to talk to her, but it was useless. Lesson learned again:  Nevah Evah place your purse on the back of your chair when dining out.  Keep it in your sight. We finish our dinner/supper and head back up into the hills. It is still rainy and cold.  Housekeeping has been to the apartment.  There is a bottle of champagne and a note to let us know we can get our linens changed twice a day instead of once a day. There are candies on our pillows. What woman changes linens twice a day, I think?  My husband picks up the remote control for the TV.  I guess it will be our introduction to Italian media,  our first experience since we arrived in Italy.  It breaks my first commandment.  Thou shall not watch TV on vacation.  I hope the sun comes out tomorrow!

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Are We There Yet?

Our Patio View of Manarola

Our Patio View of Manarola

Manarola

Manarola

Manarola

Manarola

Off to Cinque Terre and let me tell you I was not excited about the train trip there, but couldn’t wait to see it!  Cinque Terre consists of five towns (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare) along the Ligurian Sea coast connected by train, boat or a walking path.  The train run from Florence to Pisa to La Spezia to Manarola was uneventful, thank God, just a lot of getting off and getting on a different train. We arrived in Manarola by late afternoon to a beautiful bright breezy day. When you get off the train in Manarola you walk through a long long tunnel to reach the little piazza circle mid town.

Steps to Middle Piazza, Manarola

Steps to Middle Piazza, Manarola

The Pizza in the Middle of Manarola

The Piazza in the Middle of Manarola

A good looking young man was there from La Toretta to meet us and help us with the luggage. We started up a steep hill, curve, another hill, curve, another hill.  I am huffing and puffing and I’m not even pulling luggage.  Finally a small church at the top of the hill sits in another small piazza and we go down a few steps, up a few more steps walking through a maze of pastel colored palazzos.

The Hilltop Church in Manarola

The Hilltop Church in Manarola

A View from the Hilltop at Manarola

A View from the Hilltop at Manarola

We end up on a terrace overlooking the sea and vineyards and are greeted by our hosts who offer champagne and a plate of selected finger food. We sit and take in the view.  After a tour of the spa, meeting room, and hot tub we take a hike up more steps and twisty turns to the path to our apartment along the highest ridge of Manarola.

My Favorite Cottage in Manarola

My Favorite Cottage in Manarola

Our Apartment at La Toretta

Our Apartment at La Toretta

The Kitchen at La Toretta

The Kitchen at La Toretta

Looking Out to the Patio at La Toretta

Looking Out to the Patio at La Toretta

The Bedroom at La Toretta

The Bedroom at La Toretta

What a place!  A very large ultra modern apartment awaits us with a birds eye view of the town, sea, and vineyard. Did I mention the blue grey octopus mural above the couch and bed?  Unbelievable! We sit on the patio and watch the world go by and the little old couple working (well she picks basil from the patch and he sits and watches her) in the garden below us, before heading to Billie’s, a favorite local restaurant that sits just below our path to the apartment, as we look out over the patio.

The walk to our apartment at La Toretta

The Walk to our Apartment at La Toretta

Our Table at Billy's

Our Table at Billy’s

The weather has turned cooler and very gale like.  The flags at Billies are flapping in the wind as we carefully pick our way down the stone steps to the lower terrace. I hold on to the wrought iron railing as I carefully step by step by step by step move down to our table located in the corner of the terrace. At home this stairway would be a lawyers dream come true, here it is a way of life unnoticed. The outdoor space is packed with guests as the wind continues to build. After we order, I watch as the waiters, who have to go up and down that staircase a bazillion times taking orders and carrying food, sometimes in the middle of the steep stairway, do a limbo move under the railing, jumping unto the terrace to the side.  What?  I keep watching and yes that is the way to the terrace to the left.  As the guests leave from that terrace they too shimmy up and under the railing to the stairs.  I surmise that is the terrace for the young and lithe.  Showoffs, ha.  We enjoy our meal of a local pasta dish that we had to eat rather quickly because it is getting cooler and cooler and the wind on the hillside has reached gale status.  Now it is raining on my food, I’m up and up those stairs in a flash.  Back to my warm octopus room.  Tomorrow is another day!

Downtown Manarola

Downtown Manarola

The Sea at Manarola

The Sea at Manarola

Manarola

Manarola

For more info about La Toretta, 5 Terre National Park, Manarola, Italy. see TripAdvisor.
For more info about Trattoria dal Billy, Via Rollandi 122, Mararola, Italy see TripAdvisor.

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