Confession. Took a train ride between villages without a ticket! It was a ticket machine malfunction officer.

La Spezia to the first of the five villages of the Cinque Terre – Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Corniglia, Monterosso and later, on to Genoa. Meanwhile just one last village to conquer…Manarola.

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20130822-114204.jpg20130822-114357.jpgThe ‘Via dell’Amore‘ was closed due to rock slides. A shame. The Lovers Walk, a narrow pathway linking Riomaggiore and Manarola, clings precariously to the rocky cliffs along the ocean front and provides the perfect platform for viewing spectacularly romantic sunsets. Hence the name.

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20130822-114844.jpgThe village, again tucked into a tiny crevice has quaint lanes so narrow, the jumble of tall buildings clinging one atop the other almost touch, held strong only by random stone archways. Cool, dark and perfect for dodging the drips from washing strung high above, smiling at Nona’s sweeping doorsteps and searching for the little surprises that whisper of the village personality.

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Emerge at the top of the main thoroughfare, quick glance in the local church, light a candle then on down the promenade past the same linens, lemons and lazy diners as the other villages, and on to the harbor.

20130822-114636.jpgQuaint, sheltered between large jagged rock formations, smeared with bright towels and sunbathers and topped with teens daring to dive into deliciously cool water between rowboats of softy hued blue yellow and red. They do, to the raucous cheers of folk lining the narrow side steps leading to the cliff walks.

Continuing around one of the cliff paths, discover a whole other little world tucked in behind steeper rock formations, again hosting swimmers as well as a number of large yachts anchored in the still waters.

20130822-114928.jpgExhausting the camera’s battery, indulge in a Ligurian style pasta brimming with seafood followed by a tiny scoop of Lemon Gelato then, with a satisfied smile, slip discreetly into a tourist wave and back onto the train.

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And thus concludes my dreamy days in the Cinque Terre…have I inspired you?

Stay tuned for the French Riviera!

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