CINQUE TERRE

CINQUE TERRE

The five bright fishing villages of Cinque Terre are as soothing as they are beautiful. A vast expanse of dazzling turquoise sea laps against the cittadine that cling to a stretch of terraced hillsides and steep crumbling cliffs. Tourists journey from around the world to hike between the five villages, climbing through vineyards along dry stone cliffs with breathtaking views of the surrounding seas. Each of these five villages Monterosso, Vernazza, Comiglia, Manarola, and Riomag- giore invites the traveler to explore its own unique character. Despite the increasing tourism, the towns of the Cinque Terre still feel untouched by time.

TRANSPORTATION

Trains run along the Genoa-La Spezia line. A Cinque Terre Tourist Ticket (‚4.20) allows unlimited trips among the five towns and to La Spezia. Monterosso is the most accessible. From the station on V. Fegina, the north end of town, trains run to: Florence (3%hr. every hr. ‚8), via Pisa (25hr. every hr. ‚4.40); Genoa (lM’hr. every hr. ‚3.60); La Spezia (20min. every 30min. ‚1.20); and Rome (7hr. every 2hr. ‚27). Frequent local trains connect the 5 towns (5-20min. every 50min. ‚1-1.50). Ferries run to Monterosso from La Spezia (lhr. 2 per day, ‚18).

ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION

The five villages stretch along the shore between Levanto and La Spezia, connected by trains, roads (although cars are not allowed inside the towns) and footpaths that traverse the rocky shoreline. Monterosso is the northernmost town and the largest, containing most of the services for the area, followed by picturesque Vernazza, cliffside Corniglia, and the quiet towns of Manarola and Riomag- glore. The Pro Loco tourist office V. Fegina 38 is in Monterosso, below the train station, provides information and accommodations service. ( 0187 81 75 06; fax 0187 81 78 25. Open Apr.-Oct. M-Sa 9am-noon, 2:30-6:30pm, Su 9am-noon.) Each town also has a Cinque Terre National Park Office that provides info on hiking and accommodations and sells 5terre Cards, which give unlimited train, ferry and bus access. The Monterosso office is at P. Garibaldi (a 0187 80 20 53. Open daily 9am-10pm. Cards ‚14, ‚5.40 without ferry.) Postal Codes: 19016 in Monterosso, 19018 in Comiglia and Vernazza, 19017 in Manarola and Riomaggiore.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Most hotels are in Monterosso. They fill quickly during the summer, so reserve ahead. Try the tourist office for help finding the more plentiful Affittacamere (private rooms). For another option for private rooms in Riomaggiore, call Mar-Mar , V. Malborghetto 8, an established Affittacamere organization. ( fax 0187 920 932; www.marmar.5terre.com. Dorms ‚20, doubles ‚50-80.)

Albergo Della Gioventu-Ostello Cinque Terre, V. B. Riccobaldi 21, Manarola (0187 92 02 15; www.hostel5terre.com). Turn right from train station and continue up the hill 300m. Modern hostel has 48 beds, a sweeping terrace on the roof, and music systems on each co-ed floor. Breakfast ‚3.50. Laundry ‚4 wash, ‚3 dry. Ask about kayak, bike, and snorkeling equipment rental. Reception daily 7am-lpm and 5pm-lam. Curfew in summer lam, off-season midnight. Dorms ‚17-20. AmExMCVDC.

Hotel Souvenir, V. Gioberti 24, Monterosso (fax 0187 81 75 95). This quiet, family- run hotel on a charming street has 30 beds, a friendly staff, and an outdoor garden. Most rooms with modern bath. Breakfast ‚5. Rooms ‚35 per person; students ‚25.

Hotel Gianni Franzi, P. Marconi 1, Vernazza (0187 82 10 03; www.giannifranzi.it). Run by the’ town’s oldest trattoria, the rooms have lovely antique decor, most with large balconies with views of the town and sea. Single ‚38; doubles ‚58-62, with bath ‚75; triples ‚96. AmExDMCV.

Bed and Breakfast La Toretta, Vico Volto 14, Man- arola (fax 0187 92 03 27). Spacious, sunny rooms, most with balconies, TV, and AC, all with a view of the sea. Lovely sunbathed solarium offers enchanting vistas. Breakfast included. Doubles ‚70- 90. Reserves one double for students (‚36).

Hotel Ca Dei Duxi, V. Colombo 36, Riomaggiore (0187 92 00 36; www.duxi.it). Tranquil bed and breakfast in a historic building. Bedrooms are spacious and well-furnished. Breakfast included. Singles ‚30-50; doubles ‚60-110; triples ‚75-130. O

While Vemazzo is reputed to have the best food in the Cinque Terre, delicious options can be uncovered in all of the towns. Buy groceries at DiMarket Macelle- ria V. Molinelli 21, Monterosso. (Open M-Sa 8am-lpm and 5-7:30pm, Su 8am-lpm.)

Trattoria Gianni Franzi, P. Marconi 1, Vernazza (0187 82 10 03). Said by many to have the best pesto in the Cinque Terre, Vernazza’s oldest trattoria has large indoor and outdoor dining areas. Primi ‚4- 11. Secondi ‚5-16. Open Su-Tu and Th-Sa noon- 3pm, 7:30-9:30pm. AmExDCMCV.

Focaccerla II Frantoio, V. Gioberti 1, Monterosso (0187 81 83 33). The wood-burning oven bakes mouth-watering farinata and focaccia stuffed with olives, onions, herbs, and other fillings. Slices ‚1-2. Open Su-W and F-Sa 9am-2pm and 4-7:30pm. O

Ripa del Sole, V. de Casper 282, Riomaggiore (0187 92 07 43). Perched on a cliff over the village, this little trattoria serves some of the area’s most authentic and flavorful traditional cuisine. Open Su and Tu-Sa noon- 2pm and 7-10pm. AmExDCMCV.

II Clliegio, Localita Beo, Monterosso (0187 81 78 29), near P. Garibaldi. Free taxi service from the historical city center (call ahead). Fantastic food, made fresh daily with ingredients from the owners’ garden. Savor your meal and the view from the terrace. Primi ‚6-8. Secondi ‚7-11. Open Su and Tu-Sa 12:30- 2:30pm, 7:30-10:30pm.

LIFE’S A BEACH

In 1873, the first Italian railroad split through the Guvano valley surrounding the hill town of Corniglia. Abandoned in 1968, the track left behind a long tunnel that cuts through the mountainside, rendering a sparkling cove and secluded beach newly accessible to the town’s inhabitants. Before long, young men and women made the discovery, and soon they turned it into a lawless haven, building bonfires by the tunnel and basking in the buff.

In the 1990s, the local government gave the area over to a group of agricultural workers who cleaned up the beaches, planted vineyards along the coast, and began charging a small entrance fee. The workers are awaiting a license from the state to provide lifeguarding services and sell food and supplies to adventurous swimmers Though newly scrubbed and supervised, Guvano hasn’t lost its naturalist charm. Tour-ists who discover the tunnel can strut their stuff with the locals down the two pristine coves and take brisk, nude dips in the sea.

To reach Guvano, take a left from the Corniglia train station. Pass the stairs and turn left down the ramp on the other side of the tracks. At the bottom of the ramp, turn right, heading toward town. A 15min. walk through the dark tunnel (don’t go alone) delivers you to the cove. Open July-Aug. daily 9am-7pm; June and Sept. Sa-Su 9am 7pm. ‚5.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA

Go to Florence, Venice, and Rome to sightsee; come to Emilia-Romagna to eat. Italy’s wealthy wheat- and dairy-producing region covers the fertile plains of the Po River Valley, and celebrates the finest culinary traditions on the peninsula. The Romans originally settled here, but the towns later fell under the rule of great Renaissance families whose names adorn every palazzo and piazza in the region.

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