Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Italian Rainforest?

After a quick bite to eat this morning (breakfasts have all included croissants, jams, musli cereal, yogurt - and meats and cheeses that we have yet to try… not that we don’t want to,
I don’t want to, but by the time you’ve eaten four different pastries, fresh juice (the colors of the juices here don’t match the colors back home) we’re usually just too full for meats and cheeses), we got all ready for our hike to each of the Cinque Terre towns.
And that was the end to the longest sentence in history

The weather report said rain, but it was just a little overcast when we left, perfect for hiking.
Sorry- but perfect hiking for me would have been in my bathing suit.

For centuries these sleepy fishing villages built into the steep, oceanfront hillsides have been connected to each other by narrow walking trails. It takes about 5 hours of hiking to get from town #1 Monterroso al Mare to town #5 Riomaggiore, if you hike straight through, longer if you stop at the villages along the way. We were warned that it’s a pretty challenging walk/hike. They weren’t kidding.

Since each of the towns are at sea level, first you hike up… and up… and up into the lush terraced (for grape growing) mountainsides. It’s quite green with a lot of flowers, plants, etc. It felt more like Hawaii than Italy. About ¾ of a mile into the hike, we were totally sweating and winded going up these endless steps.

Steps that were totally reminiscent of our Half Dome hike. Never ending, butt-cramping, slick-stone steps.

That’s when we came around a corner to find an 80 year old lady with a walker doing it one step at a time. We don’t know how far she was going, but she said she didn’t need any help. At her pace, she’s probably still hiking to Vernazza.

He’s not kidding. I am still worried about her and hope that she just turend around and went back to Monterroso. She was all alone.

The views were great and it was good to get some exercise for once (just a joke, we haven’t stopped walking since we got here).
And we have done a good amount of steps every day. All to counteract the gelato and eating dinner at 10pm.

We wish we had a pedometer to see how far we’ve walked (that sounds totally nerdy doesn’t it?).

Vernazza, the first town on our hike was about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Monterroso. We were going to see Vernazza, grab a quick focaccia for the road and keep going, but that’s when the rain started. It quickly turned into a torrential downpour. So we busted out the plastic raincoats we bought that morning. Lucky this wasn’t Milan, or we probably would have been refused service for the way we looked, but here in the Cinque Terre, it’s function over fashion.
As you can see, our rain coats were stylin’. Ian wanted to be yellow too, but I refused to let us become more dorky than we already were.
The downpour didn’t subside, so we decided to wait it out with a longer sit-down lunch. That was the best decision of the day. We ate in a small, family-run trattoria and had our best lunch ever. The region is famous for its pesto and they have a pasta that is specially made for pesto sauce, Trophie. It came out looking pretty plain, but it was awesome. It’s now the standard we compare all our meals to.

Seriously, I asked if I could kiss the cook. She was the Mama and when I said she deserved a kiss for the pesto sauce I could have bathed in, she seemed unimpressed and looked at me like, “silly American girl. Can’t she see I don’t give a rats about what she thinks of my pesto. Of course I know it is the best Trophie al Pesto in all of Iataly. Can’t she see that the gods are crying outside and now my restaurant size has just been cut in half because all of my outdoor tables are soaked? And all she cares about is the pesto she and her cute boyfriend just inhaled. Ciao”

By the end, the rain had calmed down (not stopped) and the town and trail had mostly cleared out, but we were having fun in the rain so we continued our hike.

We were basically hiking in the clouds. I know there must have been killer views surrounding us, but they were not to be seen due to cloud cover.

About 10 minutes before we got to Corniglia, the rain came back with a vengeance. Everything from the thighs down was completely soaked. It looked like I peed my pants when I took my coat off (maybe I did, no one will ever know).
Peed his pants- only if he could pee out of each thigh bone

I was surprised how much fun we were having hiking in the rain. After Corniglia was Manarola and then just a shot 20 minute hike to Riomaggiore. The last bit between Manarola and Riomaggiore is called Villa Dell’Amore. It didn’t exist for many years and when they finally completed that portion of the trail, it allowed dating couples from the two villages to meet in the middle and [say hi to each other] [edited for our kids].

We took the train back to Monterroso, ditched the soaked clothes and took long, hot showers to warm back up. By the time we had recovered and were ready for dinner, it was about 10pm again. We ate at Via Vente in Montorroso where our OCD waiter spent about 5 minutes aligning our placemats and folding our napkins. We closed the place down sometime after 11 (they didn’t let us get dessert because it was too late).

No- sold out
Dinner was good, but not as good as that Trophie al Pesto at lunch.

Hello- Ian must have forgotten he was in totally heaven with his Seafood Linguini. I have never seen anything disappear so fast. And he had to pull the seafood crap out of the shells too. Speedy Gonzales!
Back to Hotel Pasquale where we crashed. I don’t think I ever move after I fall asleep on this trip, we’re definitely maximizing our time here. But I may need a vacation from our vacation to recover.

Ciao Ciao
The Washer

The Loader


sarah said...

Hi Guys,
Hope you don't mind that I'm now stocking you on your trip. Camden gave me the blog address. Your trip reminds me so much of our trip; except we weren't married yet, so we had to take a chaperone with us. Thanks for letting me relive that trip. We stayed in Mama Rosa's Youth Hostel in the last town on the Chinque Terra. It was so disgusting that we only stayed a day, but we did love the views on our hike. Have a wonderful rest of your trip. By the way the girls looked great on Sunday; they were sitting in front of us. Ian's mom seemed to love her time with them.

Chris said...

You two are so cute in these photos. Everyone should be so lucky as to enjoy vacations the way you do. Dad and I will have to do some serious getting in shape if we expect to climb those hills in Italy. I can't believe my time is up here in Loomis. I've enjoyed every minute and will really miss the girls. After dinner out tonight (and homework,of course) Camden and I just had to stay up and watch American Idol.

Amy Carter said...

wow, i can't believe you did the full hike! great pic with the little town in the background... i'm surprised at how high you had to hike up.
i'm drooling over the pesto dish. yummmm.
hope you're taking it easy today!

Tyler said...

Where did all that rain come from? It wasn't there when we went.

Btw, I'm glad to see you guys did the hike. That was one of my favorite parts of our trip.

Michelle said...

Tonight we had pesto too, on fresh ravioli...from Sam's Club. Bet it tasted just like yours. Hmmm, but no one offered to kiss me after eating it.