Category Archives: Cinque Terre

A (study abroad) family outing

By Jenna Severson

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Breath stealing views of Cinque Terre. Photo by Jenna Severson

CORNIGLIA, Italy-This past Friday, our study abroad group had the first full free day off of the trip, so we decided to cross an excursion off of the long list of things we wanted to do in Italy – Cinque Terre. A few days prior to this trip we decided it would be fun (and cheaper) to plan a picnic with fresh bread and meat from the Mercato San Lorenzo after the hike as a little reward. When Friday morning finally rolled around we collectively dragged ourselves out of bed and were on the train leaving Florence by 6 a.m.

In total the trip from Florence to Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre coastal towns, was around three and a half hours. As excited as everyone was to be on our first train in Italy, sleep eventually won out and by the last hour of the train ride almost everyone was snoozing on their backpacks.

That rest came in handy.

Our hike from Manarola to Corniglia was excruciating and several times we thought about just passing out in the middle of the trail and calling it quits. Through the tiredness and extreme leg workout, we pushed through and ended in the quaint, pastel-colored town of Corniglia just in time for an afternoon picnic.

We stopped in a hole in the wall market and chose Italian beer, mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and pesto so green you could tell the basil was fresh. These ingredients were all we needed to have an intimate picnic between the seven of us. We spread our food across a small patio overlooking the sea and dug in.

Breads were dipped into the pesto, custom made sandwiches were created and each ingredient was enjoyed as if it was the finest meal we’ve ever eaten. During our lunch we shared stories about ourselves and our hopes for the future and hesitantly joked about how sore we were going to be the next day. I basked in the sun and inhaled the slightly salty essence of the Mediterranean Sea as I relished the focaccia bread with pesto, tomato, prosciutto and mozzarella.

I’m not sure if it was the death-defying two-and-a-half-hour hike that held breathtaking views or the deliciously cozy moment shared between new friends, but that day trip was pure magic, something that comes a few times in life and is too unique to ever be replicated. The strength and energy needed for the hike heightened my senses in a way that made the tomatoes taste just a little bit juicier and the company a little more valuable.

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Bright flavors, sun, and exhaustion on the Cinque Terre hike. Photo by Jenna Severson

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Filed under Cinque Terre, MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism

1400 stairs and a room with view

By Nadav Soroker

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The small town of Groppo nestles into the hills above Manarola, one of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre or “The Five Lands,” a UNESCO world heritage site on the Liguria coast of Italy. Photo by Nadav Soroker

VOLASTRA, Italy – Hiking Cinque Terre sounds like a great idea, an understatement in reality, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it coming up the hill from Manarola, the second of the five towns in the national park along Italy’s western coast. Every view you see of the terraces of grapes and vegetables and olives spilling down the hillside beneath you, over small stone shacks with shadow blackened doorways, is gorgeous. However, you spend your time looking at the next step to come, wiping sweat from your eyes and cursing the more fit, middle-aged Australian banking couple on holiday who are putting you to shame. Even worse is how nice they are about it all, and well informed too of the apparent 1,400 steps we are hiking up.

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The trail that leads from Manarola to Corniglia, two of the five villages of Cinque Terre, ascends a steep incline of allegedly 1,400 steps up to the small town of Volastra, passing small stone buildings, terraced vineyards and olive gardens along the way. Photo by Nadav Soroker

I am not convinced that any sane person would actually have anything to do with this ancient, god-forsaken path until I see a sun-browned figure off to the left in one of the olive terraces fixing a wooden stake fence. That luckily means we are close to Volastra, the peak of our efforts and where the trail levels out. Almost immediately we struggle into the tight alleyway leading up into the town where we dead end into a small foot path with a fountain, a defibrillator for the less hardy, and a blessed market shop blowing cool air and proudly displaying a fridge with a selection of drinks and water bottles the size of a large cat.

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Across from the fountain and the defribulator that welcome hikers into Volastra is another type of salvation: small market that offers bottled water, soft drinks, fresh fruit, and traditional deli offerings like meats, cheeses, and olives. Photo by Nadav Soroker

Two lovely ladies, who might be angels, staff the small delicatessen counter and collectively speak about zero English – not that you would expect them to – but fully understand our desperate panting and flushed red faces. A hike well worth the effort, though If I was less exhausted I would buy some of the delicious olives waiting in big bowls in the counter.

Instead, we proceed to enjoy the most delicious beverage of our trip to date: water from a cheap plastic bottle to replace the sweat pouring from our brows and down our backs, as we look down at the small town of Manarola where we started, now way off in the distance.

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Filed under Cinque Terre, MU Journalism Abroad, Science ad Agricultual Journalism, Uncategorized

Will hike for food: Cinque Terre

Jessica Vaughn

CINQUE TERRE, Italy – From the cheerful soft yellows, pinks, and oranges of the villas that dot the cliffs of the five villages of Cinque Terre to the perfectly still aqua seawater that lies beneath them, the views of the coastline of this portion of the Italian Riviera are some of the most inspiring and breathtaking in the country of Italy, and arguably the world.

Though it’s entirely possible to appreciate this beautiful place from a boat or train, the most spectacular views can only be obtained with a little bit—okay, a lotta bit—of extra effort. The extra labor is in the form of a 3.5 km hike from the towns of Vernazza to Monterosso. Cinque Terre, the home of five small villages, translates to “Five Hills” in English; however in reality these were more like mountains. But the best experiences in life wouldn’t be as wonderful if you didn’t have to fight for them, right?

We fought, and we won. The hike from Vernazza to Monterosso was steep, narrow, and in some places, downright dangerous. The two-way path was at most two-feet wide, twisting and winding up and around the sides of the mountain on the edge of the Liguaran Sea. In some places the path was dirt and in others it was steep rocky stairs, but in all places, it was difficult—especially if the only exercise you have had in the past two weeks is walking to and from the gelato shop.

The hiking time is approximately 1.5 hours if you continuously climb without any breaks, but it would be silly not to break occasionally to take in the views of the sea and the mountainside. We reached the end of the path—the beach—in about two hours. By that time our water bottles had long been emptied and our stomachs were growling for food. Luckily, the region in which Cinque Terre lies is home to the freshest and best seafood and pesto in the world.

My tired body fought over what it wanted. My legs ached for a chair, my stomach for food, and my mind for a strong margarita. I made it down the strip, past big-lettered tourist traps, rocky beaches, and overpriced mixed drink stands to a sky- blue sign with white lettering that read “Cantina.” The restaurant looked promising. My stomach was winning the battle.

The restaurant was indeed the oasis we hoped it would be. A shaded two-person table welcomed us to sit and enjoy an aperitivo of fried focaccia bread paired with three delicious herb and olive-based dips. The first was the region’s famous pesto, fresh and almost sweet with a strong basil taste. The second was an olive paste, made with a mix of black and green olives, crushed into a smooth dip perfect for spreading on bread. The third was an olive oil, but not traditional pure oil that Italy is known for producing. It had a buttery taste, and was thicker and more yellow in color instead of green. All three were delicious. We ran out of dip much sooner than we ran out of bread.

Next came the calamari. A giant plate filled with fresh-out-of-the-sea and hot-out-of-the-fryer squid, spritzed in lemon and served co-mingled with zucchini. It looked and smelled appetizing to my rumbling stomach. It was coated in a thin layer of breading, salted and flavorful without any greasy residue that you might find in a Midwest preparation of the same meal. You could sum it up in one word: satisfying.

The strenuous hike led to many beautiful views and one heck of a traditional meal on the Italian Riviera. But even if the best pesto in the world and seafood is found thousands of miles away from home, it’s always possible to create your very own basil masterpiece. The Cinque Terre website (www.cinqueterre-travel.com/gastronomy/pesto/)offers a quick and easy six ingredient recipe.

So remember, if the hills look a little too steep to climb or the path looks too narrow to share, overcoming those obstacles will lead you to a view like this and a plate full of your dreams.

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Filed under calamari, Cinque Terre, seafood

Seafood splendor at Cinque Terre

Rachel Green

CINQUE TERRE, Italy – Weekend adventures led me to the five towns of Cinque Terre along Italy’s western coast where I discovered its treasure, seafood.

Calamari

Calamari


After a beautiful boat ride on the turquoise water with a view of all five of the hillside towns, we reached the fifth, Monterosso. There, we came across Ristorante Belvedere. A quaint little place right by the water, it was relatively inexpensive and the food was tasty.

Cinque Terre, known for its walking trails between towns with wide ocean vistas, also has excellent fried calamari and prawns. I made a decision.

Two others in the group ordered the same thing so we received a heaping portion of fried seafood–whole prawns; eyeballs, brains and all, calamari in giant pieces, so fresh and delicious when dipped in olive oil and salt.

Collectively, we managed to polish off the whole massive plate of seafood, quite an accomplishment.

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Filed under calamari, Cinque Terre, seafood