The sunset over Cinque Terre, Italy. 

The sunset over Cinque Terre, Italy. 

This entry is part of the 2014 Italy (& Turkey too!) Travel Blog Series. Read this story and then the rest HERE

 

Cinque Terre is a northern coastal region of Italy and it is absolutely beautiful. The region consists of 5 small villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, all built into the rugged landscape along the sea. 

Arriving late afternoon into Monterosso (where we stayed) we hiked the rest of the short walk to our apartment from the train station. Monterosso is very much a beach town and our apartment was a direct reflection of that. It was like a cottage clone right out of Grand Haven, Michigan. We felt right at home, especially when our landlord greeted us with homemade limoncello - too sweet for my taste, which was fine, because what came next was right up my alley: hiking. 

Cinque Terre is known for it's unique hiking trails that link all of the 5 villages and according to Rick Steves we were about to hike the most difficult section. 

Rick was right. About 15 minutes in I immediately regretted eating that full plate of lasagna. The wine however, I think that helped. 

The views were gorgeous. The buildings and landscapes were full of color and the sea was the brightest of all blues any natural setting could muster. In full on workout mode (I'm not kidding... the trail was that steep!) I kept reminding myself to look up or I would miss the moments. Along the way we passed vineyards built into the side of the hill, little bridges stretching across waterfalls, and at one point we came upon a man selling freshly made limoncello and bottled beer. 

 A man selling limoncello along the hiking trails in Cinque Terre, Italy. 

A man selling limoncello along the hiking trails in Cinque Terre, Italy. 

The trail led us to the neighboring village of Vernazza. There we found a place on the water serving happy hour snacks and cocktails. Until sunset, that is where we planted our flag. But it wasn't long before we decided our next mission: find the highest point in the village and watch the sunset. We had just hiked nearly 2 hours of uneven steps... what was a few more! 

With only minutes until the sun met the horizon, we ventured up a series of winding staircases in search of a lookout where we could perch for our daily toast. The boys ran while Emily and I walked... it was more their mission than ours and for some reason they had taken to running places lately. I guess vacation does that to a person. 

Much like earlier in the day, I had to stop and take in the moment. We were in one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen with friends we really love hanging out with, making memories that we'll remember for the rest of our lives. We were mighty blessed. 

And I wish I could say we found our lookout point, but we didn't. The boys hit a series of dead ends and by the time we decided to throw in the towel and reemerged from the labyrinth of staircases... we had missed our sunset. It will forever be something we can laugh about in our later years: "Remember when..." 

Before hoping the train back to Monterosso, we found a comfortable spot on the waters edge and took in what was left of the colorful sky. Sitting there, I decided the memory of hunting for our sunset was better than the actual sunset. 

BONUS TRAVEL NOTE: Q: What is limoncello? A: a lemon liqueur mainly produced in southern Italy. No one knows the exact origin of the drink but the recipe is said to be at least 100 years old and is made of lemon zest and simple syrup. I was first introduced to limoncello from my mother-in-law Mari who discovered the drink on her own trip to Italy. We often drink it on evening boat rides in the summertime. 

This entry is part of the 2014 Italy (& Turkey too!) Travel Blog Series. Read this story and then the rest HERE

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