The middle section of the trail was mostly flat and narrow and early on it was right on the edge of the terraces, which played he'll with anyone's fear of heights.
Arrivals on the later trains and late starters generally started to catch up to us as we ambled along enjoying the views.
It was like Disneyland with none of the safety features, Nature not exactly in the raw but pretty close. The flat bits alternated with steep steps, chunks gouged out of the trail and impossible switchbacks.
There were no park rangers or emergency phones or refreshment stations, though we did end up walking through the back yards of a couple of houses clinging to the hillside.
We walked past their rustically roofed shed and found ourselves between two ladies hanging out laundry behind their house.
They had put potted geraniums along the trail and I asked if it got tiresome having strangers trek through their lives. Not at all they said cheerfully, we quite like it. We're not savages. I wanted to say I begged to differ as I couldn't get an espresso in Volastra but I thought such a comment churlish and refrained.
We entered a lovely forested section and wandered through shade and sun on the dappled trail. Here we found the loo, a convenient shrubbery as it turned out, as portaloos are unknown in the Cinque Terre. One gets the feeling there is a lot they don't know about the outside world and we are probably better off if they never find out. I rather liked the lack of safety warnings everywhere.
These trails are not wheel chair accessible.
And on we went stumbling as we walked watching the wife's increasingly painful rheumatic ankles as she dished out the punishment uncomplaining.
Our destination of Corniglia seemed a long way away below us as we met the trail junction.
The views continued lovely but the trail down was in a word absolutely terrible. That was Manarolo far behind us.
We agreed that had the first path up been this bad we'd never have undertaken the five mile hike.
Most of it was steep indeed but filled with gullies and loose rocks and steep roughly defined steps and utterly bloody endless.
Until finally, swearing up a blue streak we arrived in Corniglia for lunch, and what a lunch it was, served up by Jack Riepe's younger brother, it made the appalling trek worthwhile.
All was forgiven, in Part Four.
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