We say goodbye to Florence and negotiate our train travel to the coastal town of Vernazza located on the world famous coastal strip of Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. We will travel out of Tuscany and into Liguria. Liguria is the birthplace of our senior Tony Rao (who, by the way, has finally disposed of his silly hat) so part of my knowledge base for this area will come from him.
This strip is composed of five towns; Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterossa. These towns represent some of the most breathtaking coastal views on the Italian Riviera. Being able to come here is a treat!
Johanna has booked an apartment here over the internet, literally days before we arrived. Once off the train we make our way down via Roma. It is packed here. There are people everywhere. Mostly Americans but also a few Aussies. Most of the chatter is in Italian though as our ears become tuned to the beauty of the language.
Our apartment is a prize. 2 bedrooms. Located centrally in the main square, Piazza Marconi, overlooking the bay of Vernazza. It is on the first floor directly above the restaurants and bars in the Piazza. As I write this I am listening to the banter of locals below; having coffee, meeting in the piazza. It is too early for tourists yet, especially the Aussie group that kept Tony up until 3am. He had to get up and say a few words to them from our apartment window! There's a smell of freshly cooked pastries wafting into our apartment windows,pushed into our room by a refreshing sea breeze.
Yesterday evening we visited our nearest neighbour, Monterosso. The difference between Vernazza and Monterosso, apart from the size (much bigger) is the presence of a more substantial beach. Apart from a small area set aside for public use, most of the beach is user pays. From our vantage point on the boardwalk at Monterosso we can see Vernazza and the other towns of Cinque Terre. The boardwalk is bordered by shops with a background of cliffs. The water is turquoise, crystal clear and warm. The view in front of us cannot be expressed in words.
Dinner back at Vernazza was always going to be a seafood affair. Entree is fresh anchovies (not the ones you see on pizza!) dressed with an olive oil and vinegrette sauce as well as fresh mussels stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese and parsley. Mains included moscardini (smoky, grilled baby octopus), orata (local fish variety), fritto misto(seafood basket) and penne with scampe. While having our dinner we were entertained by the lapping of the sea in the bay of Vernazza and the flickering lights along the Cinque Terre coastline. Our apartment is only five metres away. This place is going to be hard to leave!