Diary for ScouseLeeM on Tour

Cinque Terre and Florence


After a ridiculously small amount of sleep, it was up before the lark to set off at 4am for Florence, en route to my date with destiny at the Cinque Terre national park.

In a state of near hullucination, and with an hour to spare in Florence, I manged to get myself to the iconic  red -roofed Duomo, and grab a few snaps before any other buggar was out of bed, the area was practically empty. Then time to join a full day experience to Cinque Terre - the picture postcard national park of Italy, complete with spectacular coastal views, clifftop colourful towns and villages, and rough and ready hiking trails that will make you ache for weeks to come...

Stunning views abound here. Our multinational group joined a local guide, to initially undertake a 6km hike up and down on slippy rocks and dirt trails, while it conveniently decided to pour with rain - making conditions rather hazardous and a few slips and falls ensued (none for me). We started in Volastra, taking in  numerous costal views above the town of Manarola on our way to Corniglia, where the sun finally decided to pop out.

A relatively light (by Italian standards) lunch - a ham and cheese sandwich the size of my head, consumed on a sun terrace overlooking the sea, provided welcome relief while we dried out. It was then time for a short hike (thanfully downhill) to the train line that runs between the towns of Cinque Terre, catching a connection to Vernazza. Another colourful town, with spectacular crashing waves in the bay, and a delightful gellateria that refreshed me greatly, before a length stop in Monterosso.

Now the sun was shining brightly - time for a leisurely stroll through the new and old towns, as well as panaoramic viewing spots overlooking the bay, before moving on to Riomaggiore. This is the place that everyobody goes for their 'postcard' photo of Cinque Terre, and doesn't disappoint. However, I would not enjoy summer here -  overcowded with italian tourists, plus cruise ships providing a plethora of other bodies. This time of year  was ideal, with just a few groups milling around. We even had time to hit a local pizzeria for even more carbs and cheese, before catching the train to La Spezia, and finally the epic voyage back to  Milan.

Finally arriving after midnight, this was a worthwhile but  crazily long day. I finally collapsed for my first proper night of sleep in 3 days,  with both hamstrings feeling like they were about to snap after our hiking extravaganza...