Friday, July 22, 2011

Le Cinque Terre Part One

"We're lucky we picked a trail with only a light grade, according to the ratings of the C.A.I.- the Italian Alpine Club" I remarked to my wife as we stood high among the terraced vines of this super crowded tourist attraction in Liguria, overlooking the Mediterranean.

My wife was picking her way along a narrow trail winding along the edge of the terrace and with her head for heights she was concentrating more on where to put her hands and feet than on the inanities muttered by her husband.

With one day to spend in these fishing villages turned super expensive Eco resorts we were of course nowhere near the sea and instead were acting the preposterous middle aged mountain goats in unsuitable footwear among hordes of super keen Teutonic and Scandinavian alpinists.

All dressed to the nines, pack-equipped for the direst emergencies and very serious. The views even for us slow moving goofs were spectacular.

We had planned to spend two nights in the Big City of La Spezia (the spice) where we took a room and dumped our crap and parked the car and set off early the next day by train for the five little villages perched on supposedly inaccessible hillsides. They sell a ten Euro ($15) day pass for all trails and railway rides and we managed to buy all that and show up on platform one in time for the 7:55 to Riomaggiore.

Which claimed it was one minute overdue but arrived at our destination ten minutes late after transiting more tunnels than open rails. Being late wasn't a problem...the whole journey takes eight whole minutes.

And there we were in perfect loveliness.

It was an ideal sunny day for a gentle amble, the air was fresh and a strong sea breeze, which was to blow all day was dusting the first coastal trail of our planned series of waterfront walks with the smell of the sea in our nostrils. Some pleasant strolls, a splendid lunch and an easy train ride out was our plan which went horribly wrong as all my plans tend to do. It started out well, though.

The first town of the five in the land of five villages, Riomaggiore is the start of the most famous Path of Love, but the whole village was deserted at that ungodly hour except for a small dog that posed like a cat. Nothing matches up to appearances in the Cinque Terre (Five Lands).

The walk was easy along a paved trail with walls and handrails and lots of keen vacationing Italian joggers running and shattering the peace of the morning with their breathless inanities.

Lovers are supposed to lock in their love, an unlikely prospect in these divorce happy times with a padlock left behind to disfigure the countryside. Thousands oblige. I don't think the Pope encourages poofs to express their love publicly so they probably go to hell if their lock in their vices, such is our lack of fondness for our differently abled neighbors.

Less touristically inclined vandals leave graffiti everywhere, on walls of course but even on plants...

After twenty minutes on this dangerous trail (pericoloso the sign warned- they had no idea what was next on our agenda and neither had we) we arrived in

A charming little village, our second favorite we decided at the end of the day, which was where I stood around gasping and nearly got run down.

A blue van like the one above appeared out of nowhere and careened to a stop making me feel like one of those moron visitors on Duval who cross the street into traffic against the red light. But...? I thought there was no road access to these lost villages? Think again cretin! Then we got our next surprise when we found out the coast trail to Corniglia was closed. We'll take the hill trail my wife said. Are you sure I asked dubiously. Which was the wrong thing to do as my wife crippled by rheumatoid arthritis never allows her illness to limit her life. Fuck off she said. So we did.

Up Hill. And that was the easy part.

The five mile goat trail walk to Corniglia in part two.

-posted by Blog Press on my iPad. If you use an iPad you need Blog Press. It's fantastically simple for computer inert persons like myself.

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