Cinque Terre

On the sea, looking from Vernazza (Town #4) harbor over to Monterossa (Town #5).
Vernazza from the (intense) hiking trail
Our room in the yellow building at the top of the hill
overlooking Vernazza on our hike to Corniglia (Town #3)

part of the hiking trail
unique lighting at a focaccia shop in Corniglia
focaccia, mid-hike
pesto pasta + fresh anchovies in Manarola (Town #2)
main street of Vernazza on Easter Sunday

our favorite focaccia shop in Vernazza
the church right on the harbor
last piece of focaccia at the train stop

In the middle of our trip, we split from our friends for a weekend jaunt to 5 small villages on the coast of the Mediterranean.  They are fishing communities in the middle of a national park connected by hiking trails and a train.  The shops, restaurants, and lodging are all locally owned, of which the townspeople are rightfully proud.

This area is known for fresh anchovies and for creating focaccia bread and pesto.  We booked a room at the top of our village - Vernazza, in the building that used to be the town mill. Free breakfast was included at Il Pirata, a pastry shop owned by twin Sicilian brothers, Gianluca and Massimo (who are simultaneously crazy and welcoming).  A free pastry, cappucino, and Italian granite - iced fruit smoothie - started off our day spent outdoors exploring and hiking.

Between our time spent in chaotic Roma, touristy Firenze, and stunning Paris - this was our little escape to be in the countryside and by the water.  It was calming and small, and I'm so glad we included it.  The point of being in Cinque Terre is not to see a particular site or museum but to experience true Italian culture, people, scenery, and food.

One of my favorite moments of the trip was on our first night there, which happened to be Good Friday.  The town villagers assembled after dark for a walking vigil from the church by the water's edge up to the very top of the town - singing and following a statue of the body of Jesus on the cross.  They sang the most beautiful, melancholy songs and had candles lit along the path.  It was surreal, and I will think of it every year on Good Friday. 

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