Continuing with my Italian trip from last October:
After leaving beautiful Florence, we drove to the Italian Riviera, specifically to see the “Cinque Terre” region, which I’d never heard of before. It’s a National Park and is a proclaimed heritage of mankind UNESCO site. You may remember that on October 25th 2011, this area was hit by torrential rain and flash floods, which caused massive mudslides and devastated many towns and villages there. This tragedy happened only about a week after our visit.
Our coach dropped us off at Manarola, a medieval hamlet perched on a rocky outcrop, and the second smallest village of the five which make up the Cinque Terre. We were met by our local guide, who steered us through the narrow streets and up and down many flights of stone steps. I don’t know how some of the older, less fit members of our group managed it, but “hats off to them,” they all did it without complaining, and it was certainly worth the effort.
Here are some of the houses of Manarola, many of which used to be old mills.
The houses all seemed to have been built on top of one another, a bit like rabbit warrens, with narrow, vaulted passages between them.
Here is a beautiful 13th century church of San Lorenzo, named after the patron saint of the village.
The original inhabitants created terraces for vineyards on the very steep slopes, but because it was such arduous and gruelling work, many lie abandoned these days, as the younger generation are not willing to carry on the tradition.
Although this is a seaside town, many of the inhabitants are farmers because there is really no access to the sea or beach. The sheer cliffs protected the villagers from pirates in Medieval times.
The main street in the town is not very long, and one can walk all the way up and back along it in less than 15 minutes.
Coffee, cake and a sit down were very welcome after all that climbing around, and then we boarded a train to the picturesque town of Monterosso at the opposite end of the Cinq Terre.
This medieval town has wonderful architecture, and is now a thriving cultural centre with very pleasant beaches. Here the locals fish for anchovies and also grow lemons. Their famous Limoncino drink is sooo delicious.
This beautiful town hall, was badly damaged in the terrible floods which swept through the Cinque Terre.
The L’Alta Marea restaurant where we had lunch, served the most delicious seafood.
The Church of Saint John the Baptist, the principal church in the town, is built of black and white Italian marble in a Romanesque style. Next door to it, is the Oratory of the Dead (also black and white), was built by a brotherhood of good works. Their good work consisted of arranging funerals, taking care of widows, orphans, and the shipwrecked. Their symbols were a skull and crossbones, an hourglass, and the inscription “death awaits us all.” There is a skull and crossbones above the door.
The inside is very ornate indeed,
with jolly skeletons decorating the cornices.
They certainly did “preach to death” in that church. 😉
We then boarded a boat for the return journey, in order to view the towns from the sea.
At the end of the boat ride we rounded the promontory on which stands the medieval Andrea Doria castle built in 1161, overlooking the Gulf of La Spezia. This is known as the ‘Poet’s Gulf’ because the town of Portovenere was a favorite haunt of writers and poets, such as Lord Byron, Shelley and D H Lawrence.
You can see here, how close to the edge of the sea, some of these dwellings are.
Then it was onto the ferry, which took us to the town of La Spezia, which used to be a fishing village, but now has a large harbour and is the military training base. Fabulous, luxury yachts are built here. *sigh*
We were told that the largest one, which has six decks and four pools, is owned by a very wealthy Russian.
Back on the coach again, we were taken to the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte, an historic and prestigious hotel in Viareggio, on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, where we had a sumptuous dinner in the most beautiful surroundings.
There was no time to explore the town unfortunately, as we left the next morning for Pisa, but that’s a story for another day.
Great shots of one of my favorite places!
Thanks for delving back into my past, Cindy. 🙂
Reblogged this on Angie Banks Pad.
Thanks so much, Angie. I’m so glad that you liked it enough to reblog. 🙂
great photo`s. It looks a bit claustrophobic the way the house are built, but interesting. Working on those slopes must be hard work. 🙂
Thanks for your visit, Leo. Yes, I couldn’t live in such conditions, but I suppose one gets used to it. 😉
I am so starting packing….!!!!
Wow, it all looks beautiful!
Yes, so very lovely there. I’m really glad we didn’t miss this place.
I have always wanted to go here but haven’t yet. Did you find it touristy at all?
There were quite a few tourists there of course, but in general, the place seemed very unspoilt, and authentic.
The coloured houses and coastline look simply stunning..great photos!!
Thanks, Lisa. A very photogenic place indeed. 😉
Looks gorgeous AD! We didn’t make it there on our trip. Another reason to return 🙂
I’m sure you’ll get there before too long, Madhu. 😉
good timing with this post, just planning a trip there 🙂
That’s great, Emma. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy it. I’ll be interested to hear whether the flood damage is all repaired by now.
I’ll be sure to let you know
I love these posts on Italy 🙂
Thanks so much, Tandy. 😉
Excellent photos and I haven’t stopped laughing from your line… “They certainly did preach to death.” 😆
Thanks again. Glad I gave you a giggle. 😀
Great images! you make me homesick 🙂
Glad you enjoyed, Marina, and I hope you get to visit your home again soon.
Such a pretty place. You’ve visited some gorgeous spots.
Yes it really is a beautiful place, Tilly. I don’t know if I could live there with all that climbing up and down steps to get anywhere. I’d be fit to drop by the end of each day. 😉
Yes, I did think about carting the groceries around 🙂
One has to take all these things into consideration. At least you could work off the calories before you’d even eaten them. 🙂
I’m not convinced 🙂
Hahaha. I believe you. 😆
Glad you enjoyed, Madelaine. 😉
What a lovely spot and so beautifully photographed
Thanks so much, fg. 😉
Thanks so much, Connie. Your week in Portovenere must have been wonderful, in spite of the rain. If you really knew me, you wouldn’t even ask if I hiked up Machu Picchu. 😆
Lovely post! We once stayed a week in Portovenere, explored the ruins, and went on over to Pisa. It amazes me that we never at that time, in the pouring rain as I recall, found Cinque Terre. It was years later when our son backpacked Europe that we heard about it. He and his (young and fit) traveling companions hiked the narrow cliffside trails between the five villages. I see you saw it via boat and train — and that seems reasonable for anyone over the age of 22. And did you hike up to Machu Picchu? I’ve been meaning to ask. Connie
Such beauty! And I LOVE your “preach to death” shot! 🙂
Thanks, so much. Couldn’t resist that remark. 😀
What can one say about this blog.. lovely photos, lovely description of the trip… but most of all one can only say… “Another day in Paradise”… such an apt title for the blog…
Thanks so much, bdt. 😉 Now I’m blushing.
Thanks, Tahira. Glad you enjoyed my tour. 😉
Sooo Soooooooo lovely!! Magical!
This post is torturous and not fair because I haven’t been to Cinque Terre and want to go! But I have been to Viareggio and make my own limoncello! Beautiful pics!
Thanks so much, Frank. Cheers to your Limoncello in your hot summer weather. 😉
Great travelogue indeed. Though having travelled by road from South to North of the country, I couldn’t have imagined some of the hidden gems you have uncovered.
Thanks, Shakti. You need to do it all again now, and stop off at the Cinque Terre. 😉
Sjoe AD some of those houses look like they are hanging on for dear life. A stunning set of photos again, what a shame that some of those exquisite places suffered flooding.
Yes they do. I’m not sure how badly they were affected by the floods etc.. It’s very sad to imagine what could have happened to them.
Lovely pictures and great travels with you again!
Thanks, Gail. Glad you enjoyed. 😉
Beautiful place and pictures
Thanks so much. 😉
Thank you for visiting my blog today. I am glad I came to investigate and travel the Italian tour with you through wonderful photos. Even the background to your blog is breathtaking. I will be back for more.
You’re welcome, grannymar. My background is a photo taken at Machu Picchu. I didn’t see a follow by e-mail button on your blog. Did I miss it?
such a beautiful place. the photo where you have us looking down onto the sea had me weaving and looking for safety. Great shot 🙂
Thanks, Ruth. It certainly wasn’t for anyone who suffers from acrophobia or vertigo. 😀
I love your travel photos. You are so good at your posts. You make us feel like we are right there with nyou.
BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!
Thanks so much, Francine. Your lovely comment tells me that I have succeeded in what I set out to do. 😉
Wonderful shots… I love Italy
Thanks so much. It’s a wonderful country for photos, isn’t it? 😉
Awesome!! Can you imagine trying to grow grapes on the side of the hills?? Amazing!!
Thanks. Suzanne. Quite frankly, no I can’t imagine clambering around on those steep terraces for a few grapes. I’d rather go to the wine store…….much less effort. 😀
Great photos. Brings back some really fond memories!
Thanks, Naomi. I’m glad my post brought back good memories. 😉
Cinque Terre is my favorite place, we were there last summer and a few year ago. Beautiful pics! Thank you!
You’re welcome, Amy. I would have loved to spend more time there. It was so charming.
Great pictures, I love the dwellings perched on the cliff edge.
Thanks, Trudi. Those houses were little miracles.
thanks for this tour through a very wonderful place, the creativity and determination of the human race astounds me, yet men working with simple tools create the most beautiful dwellings!
You’re so welcome, Christine. It is the most delightful place to visit.
Wonderful sights. I wonder what the skeletons are all about? Morbid lot.
Many of the houses look VERY insecure to me.
Our guide told us that the skeletons are something to do with the “Eighth day man creation theory,” whatever that is.
It’s sad to see that so much farming is being abandoned.
Yes it is sad, but inevitable I suppose, as the modern world takes over, and the children move on to universities in the cities. Nothing ever stays the same.
Breathtaking views! What a lovely trip.I must go.
Yes, you absolutely must, lynne. If you do, I hope you get the same guide that we had. She was awesome. 😉
Wow! Gorgeous place ot see! You know me,LOL,I dug the pic with the skeleton 😀
The DC (uh…I mean Olskool :P)
You’ll always be DC to me, Olskool. 😆 I’m not surprised that skeleton took your fancy. 😉
So I’m nothing if not consistant,or at least predictable? 😛 😀
I’ll go with consistent. Predictable sounds too boring. 😀
Its fascinating to see these places, I can’t imagine how they built them or how they stay perched like that. What a fab visit you have shared 🙂
Thanks, Gilly. Yes, It’s amazing how those houses have survived. I hope they weren’t washed away in the floods. That would be really tragic.
You have such awesome pictures! It must be nice getting to travel the way you do. I wish I can do the same someday. 🙂
Thanks so much for you visit, Grace. I hope you do too. 😉
what backbreaking work harvesting those vines must have been and probably for very little return
You’re right about that. It must have been a very hard life indeed. It’s no wonder that the younger generation aren’t keen to carry on the tradition.
OW …. the Italy place I badly wanted to go to but never been. 😦 It’s a shame for me because I was in Italy for 2 years.
Your pictures are so awesome. Looks majestic and that it really speaks about the place. Always love seeing those houses perched on the steep slopes.
I hope you manage to visit there one day, Rommel. I don’t think it’s one of the main tourist destinations. We were just lucky that our tour guide felt so passionately about the Cinque Terre.
I know. I actually only found out about it probably 2 months out before I left. 😦 You are lucky to stumbled upon it and for having been there.
Gorgeous place. I especially like the sheer cliffs, suppose those living high up there get a really good exercise:-)
Thanks, cocoa. Yes, I also got lots of good exercise that day. 😉
Hi AD, thats a part of the world that I never knew existed 😉
Me too, Chris. I’m so glad we got the chance to explore this lovely area. 😉