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Eight Nights and Dazed in Italy, Part VII

July 7-9, 2004

Venice | Florence | Rome | Orvieto

The Cinque Terre

"CHINK-weh TAY-reh." Loved these five remote, cliff-hugging pastel fishing villages in northwest Italy on the Italian Riviera. A wonderful break from museums, city traffic, face-paced sightseeing. Arrived in Vernazza by train from LaSpezia.

Monterosso al Mare

From the 45-foot-tall concrete Il Gante on a sun-umbrella'd bathing beach to busy markets on crooked streets for locals and tourists, a charming place. Got there on a morning train from Vernazza. Left by boat--on our mini-Mediterranean cruise--to harbor stops at the four other towns.

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Vernazza

Our home base, in the Trattoria Gianni pensione with its spiral staircase, balconies and spectacular views of the Ligurian Sea. Beautiful, restful fishing and swimming harbor bordered by colorful outdoor cafes, a Middle Age'd castle, a Gothic church from the 1300s, and narrow, winding alleys called carugi for reaching the stacked buildings--and vineyards on the steep hillsides.

Happy tour-group dinner at the Castello with its great view, pesto lasagna, liquor-soaked cake, free-flowing local wine and Ruth's birthday. Buona sera to traveling companions Smitty and Carolyn. An appreciative salute to tour guide Ragen. And grazie to the frisky, curious girl at the well--during our umbrella-covered dinner on Piazza Marconi. Buono to the friendly, proud Sicilian twins at Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre for their tasty pastries and lattes.

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Other photos of group members in Vernazza.

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Corniglia

Reached this hilltop town along a scenic trail from Manarola. Ran into a group of high school French students visiting from our home base on the planet. The delicious gelato here was essential. Windows shutters that really work, here and everywhere in Europe. Superb views at either end of the rugged, hot trail between Corniglia and Vernazza and occasionally along the way.

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Manarola

Another picturesque town with bright buildings, boats and swimming suits around the deep rock-faced harbor.

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Riomaggiore

Our destination for the boat ride from Monterosso al Mare. Boat-lined main street at harborside. Huge murals honor muscular Cinque Terre seniors of days long past who built the 300 million cubic feet of stone terraces supporting the towns and their vineyards. A 20-minute easy walk from here to Manarola.

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Venice | Florence | Rome | Orvieto | Cinque Terre

Arrivederci to Italy! Andiamo to Switzerland.

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Copyright Gary and Donna Larson, Seattle, Washington. Updated Feb. 17, 2007.