Cinque Terre, which is Italian for “five towns”, is a string of towns built on hills that curve around the Ligurian coastline. I first visited these towns with my boyfriend in late summer of 2015. We have been married for two years now, and decided that our recent trip to Italy with my parents and sister had to have Cinque Terre on the itinerary. My favorite experience in both trips involved a two-hour hike from the northern most town of Monterosso to the next town over, Vernazza.
During the hike, we were allowed a glimpse into the lives of local people who live and work amongst the vineyards that adorn the steep hills of Cinque Terre. By pure chance, we happened to be trekking down a section of trail just as a worker, supplies in tow, was descending down the mountain using the monorail track which connects the vineyards to the towns below. This system is not quick, but it allows people who are working the vineyards to traverse steep terrain and transport goods more easily, as these five towns are primarily vehicle free. It was certainly eye-opening to experience the slower pace at which locals live their lives in these five towns that remain stunningly beautiful despite increasing amounts of tourists visiting each year.
Although my husband and I experienced this same hike during our first visit, something about seeing this monorail method sparked a deeper reverence for this destination than I previously had. As tourists, we tend to race through destinations without considering the fact that we are guests in these places. We are so lucky to visit destinations of immense beauty and must always remember to be reverent in every place we visit. This is when our hearts and minds will truly open to accept everything that these places and their inhabitants teach us about different ways of living.
For anyone who decides to visit Cinque Terre and hike this same trail, I recommend taking a quick dip in the sea afterwards. Follow this up with a leisurely meal in one of the restaurants lining the piazza. Order the local dish, trofie al pesto, and a carafe of crisp white wine produced from vineyards above you. Sit back and admire the view as locals and tourists swim alongside eachother in the impossibly clear waters of the Ligurian Sea.