29 June, 2013

Cinque Terre - by boat

On the 4th of June I took a real nice boat tour of  the famous Italian CINQUE TERRE.  It was wonderful.  Calm sea and no breeze added to the enjoyment of seeing these amazing little villages from the ocean.  All 5 of the small medi-evil villages are built on almost impossibly high steep mountain sides.  As you come by boat from the east you are only able to see a few small houses of each village perch precariously on top of rocks.  This was apparently a form of defense against enemy attack when the area was under Genoese control back in 1600's.  Good ploy because you have to be almost inside the village before you notice how large it is - this must have won them many a battle back then.  

We left La Spezia and started out journey passing a huge mussel farm way out int he bay, but still within the harbour walls.  Quite interesting to watch the 'farmers' at work but I don't think that I would like to be involved in that.  

The first town that you pass is Porto Venere - stunning place that has its own whole posting, but I can just add that this is the home of Basil Pesto and the smell in the town is just too wonderful!!

Below is the first little mountain village that you pass.  Not necessarily a medi-evil village, but it gives you the idea that the small villages are built on steep sloes, without roads that access each individual home.  Rather there is a road at the top of the hill and you have to walk to each house - carry all that you require for daily living or new furniture etc.  Makes you think about what you purchase at the store when you have to lug it so far and so steep!!
 To the right is RIOMAGGIORE village and you truly can't see much of it unless you are up close.  The main street runs from the shore line / harbour straight up next to the river that gave the village fresh water.  On the right hand side is the church which was - and still is - the centre of village life.  
To the left is CORNIGLIA and the only village that is not accessible from the sea when you do the boat tour.  The little village has a small boat harbour so that the fishermen can go out and get a days catch, but you can't tie your ferry up there.  You can walk in easily from the hiking trail though.  

Below are 2 pictures of the 4th village VERNAZZA.  Very nice place but you get the idea that these people live in a stairwell. Everything is up or down.  No wonder they lived to a ripe old age, they were truly fit!!  This village also suffered an almost catastrophic flood in 2011 when the river flooded higher up the mountain and send tons of water gushing through the narrow streets washing just about everything away.   

 The last of the 5 villages is Monterroso and it is definitely the largest of the villages.  You can end your ferry tour here if you like and take a train back to La Spezia or like me, you can just take the boat back to the beginning and enjoy the view and the lone fisherman that you pass along the way.  

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