That being said, we did manage to have a great time. And if you find yourself drawn to the Cinque Terre, here are the Five Things You Should Know About the Five Towns.
1. Bring your fanny pack. Yup. Do it. Haven't used one in awhile? Well, one of the million tourists can certainly help you. Cinque Terre is super touristy. And while the French people shoving in front of you on the train might be a pain in the ass, this is the perfect town to make some super cool European friends in. Not all tourists are alike!
friends from france.
2. EAT PESTO! Holy profanity... the pesto is wonderful. This is the one exception to my "don't go here for the amazing food rule." This is the Mecca of Pesto! So, eat it for every meal. Eat it on everything. Bring some back to your hotel and eat it there, too. And once you're full on pesto and the local "Cinque Terre D.O.C." white wine, you can stop at one of the many strobe light flashing bars blasting club music and start your own dance party.
pesto from Trattoria Dal Billy in Manarolo
4. Take the train. There is a train that runs to each of the five towns all day long. For 12 euros you can get an unlimited pass for 24 hours. Just make sure to validate your train ticket at the station (there are little machines everywhere) before getting on the train or else you can get fined 50 euros per person! Or if you had the forethought to get beautiful eyelash extensions before the trip so you wouldn't have to put on mascara every day, you can bat those bad boys coyly at the curmudgeonly train conductor so he'll only fine you five euros per person (which is still $13.50 for nothing!). Again, that could buy you a while lot of pasta!
5. Did I mention to eat the pesto? Just making sure that I made that clear......
Take in the sights. If you are a hiker, hike one of the stunning paths that leads to each of the towns. If you are not, walk up to the top of the town and just take it in. The view is breathtaking. Don't, however, plan on doing the "Via Dell' Amore" with your lover. It was destroyed in the storm (like my high hopes for the Cinque Terre) and still being repaired.
6. I know I said 5, but this one is the most important, especially for gingers. TAKE LOTS OF PHOTOS. Your mother (and mother-in-law) will thank you!
the view from our apartment at La Scogliera.
nothing fancy, but the best view in town. If you're
going to stay in the Cinque Terre, STAY HERE!!!
the first of the five towns and where we called home for 36 hours.
the scenery... oh, the scenery.
Monterosso al Mare. the biggest (and most resort-like) of the five towns.
the view from Trattoria dal Billy, where we had lunch in Manarola.
It was a small restaurant tucked into the side of the cliff with...you guessed it... amazing pesto.
strolling through Monterosso. be sure to bring walking shoes.
find a cliff, buy a bottle of vino, and call it an afternoon.
(ps the green window behind me was our room!)
homemade canolis from Paolo, the owner of our apartment.
absolutely to die for. If you don't believe me that you
should stay there, just ask TripAdvisor.com
So as you can see from the photos, while it wasn't my favorite place in Italy, there are definitely at least five good reasons to make a trip to the five towns. If you've got a few extra days in your itinerary and can't bring yourself to go to more free Barolo tastings in Piemonte (which is something that will never, and I mean never, happen to me!) then it might be worth it to pencil in a day or two in Cinque Terre.