Waking up bright and early after a travel day was definitely hard, but the view that met us in Vernazza (a town in Cinque Terre) was definitely worth it. We arrived a little before noon and after unloading our bags, we wasted no time in catching the ferry to Riomaggiore. The ferry ride was filled with scenic views and was the perfect start to our trip.
In Riomagiorre, we spent some time exploring before stopping at Veciu Muin for lunch. My aunt got a seafood pasta, but I opted for gnocchi (one of my favorite pastas) with pesto, a specialty of the region. Both were delicious and refueled us for an afternoon of sightseeing.
After lunch we walked back to the ferry and headed back west to Manarola where we were amazed at how blue the water was and made sure to keep in sight of it while we were exploring.
While we had originally hoped to make it to Monterosso on our first day, after more steps and hills than I cared to count we were ready for a break, so we grabbed some gelato and headed back to our room to relax before dinner.
Instead of heading straight out to dinner we decided to get drinks and antipasti at Winexperience. It was a great decision. I was able to do a wine tasting that included 3 wines, two of which were local, and try anchovies which are a local specialty all while looking out to a beautiful view of the Ligurian Sea.
After spending about 2 hours at Winexperience, it was time to find some dinner. We had hoped to get a table at Belforte, but they were full for the evening. I, of course, turned to yelp and we ended up going to Il Pirata Della 5 Terre which was across the street from our hotel. The food at the Il Pirata was great. I had what is currently tied for the best eggplant parmesan I’ve ever had along with a delicious panna cotta. My aunt tried a canneloni stuffed with ricotta & spinach and topped with pesto along with a cannoli for dessert which was also delicious. We enjoyed the food and service so much that we didn’t have to think twice about stopping back for a breakfast of croissants stuffed with cannoli cream the next morning.
Even though I would have loved to say I made it to all five towns in Cinque Terre, I realized after our first day that given the amount of time we were there it just really wasn’t feasible. I decided that instead of trying to squeeze in Montorosso, Corniglia, and exploring more of Vernazza, that we would be better off skipping Corniglia (and it’s 365 steps from the train to the town center) and opting for a relaxing lunch in Vernazza instead. Montorosso was our first stop of the day around 8:30am and we were greeted with more fantastic views and quiet streets. One of the nicest parts was it was fairly flat (at least compared to the other towns) and so it was the perfect way to ease into day 2. In about an hour, we were able to walk through the new section of town, wander the streets of the old section, and climb up by the castle area between the two.
By 10am we were back in Vernazza and enjoying the feel of the cool water on our feet while we sat down by the harbor. We fueled up with some foccacia and then it was time to visit the church right on the harbor which is over 700 years old and climb up to the top of Vernazza’s castle. The views from both were breath-taking and definitely worth all the stairs.
By the time noon rolled around, we had definitely earned our lunch and headed half way down the stairs up to the castle to Belforte where we were a bit early for our 12:30pm reservation we had made the night before, but got seated right away. Our table was on the patio through the restaurant building and it was absolutely perfect. We sat over looking the water and enjoying the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible, but the food was just as delicious as the view was beautiful. We opted for the five fishes antipasti which includes a mix of hot and cold fish dishes that change based on what’s available that day. We ended up getting lemon cured anchovies, salted anchovies, octopus with potatoes, tomatoes, & olives, cod mousse, and tuna with tomatoes and pickled onions. They were all so good that I can’t even pick out just one favorite. For our main course, we went with the squid ink pasta with shrimp that definitely lived up to its yelp reputation. Lunch flew by and before we knew it almost two hours had past and we were asking for our check because we only had 10 minutes to get back to our room to pick up our luggage.
I had just enough time to pick up a souvenir and some Limone di Vernazza gelato before catching the train back to Milan. By the time we made it back to Segrate and showered it was almost 9pm and so we took some time to explore the town before stopping in at Osteria dei Fauni to spend time with my cousins and get some dinner. We started with a burrata ravioli and then tried their cheese tray which was to die for! We hung out drinking wine and chatting until the restaurant closed which was the perfect way to wind down after a busy 48 hours.
With over a week still left in my vacation, be sure to keep an eye out for posts with #ItalianSoiree2015 to keep track of all my adventures!