7-8 May 2022
Steve woke me this morning. He was rather persistent at 7:20 am, like I was missing breakfast of something. The day was bright and sunny, I could hear the waves splashing against the rocks below my balcony, an express train was rumbling through the tunnel under Manarola. I guess Steve was right, I needed to get up and explore more of the Cinque Terre. Once Steve saw I was out of bed, he flew away, probably to peck at the patio door of his next friend.
Today, I walk down to the Manarola station and ride the train for three minutes to Corniglia. The flat rate of 5€ is a little steep for the distance. Besides being one of the smallest villages of the five, and the only one without port access, Corniglia’s biggest claim to fame is its Scalinata Lardarina, a zigzag flight of steps composed of 33 flights with some 377 to 382 shallow brick steps. Having had the experience of walking down the steps on Thursday after my trek, I spare myself the pain upon arrival and instead walk to the shuttle stop and ride the mini bus up to the top of the promontory.
Corniglia sits about 300 feet above the sea, commanding a wonderful view of Manarola to the south and Monterosso to the north. The small village is rich with charm and impossible to be lost. There are fewer tourists who stop here, which is good as its one main street cannot handle many visitors. Via Fieschi is a narrow lane lined with hole-in-the-wall shops and gelato stops, and steep steps leading down on one side and up on the other. Behind large green or wooden doors lie countless residences and small hotels. The lane runs from the terrace overlooking the ocean to the other end of town and the Chiesa di San Pietro, the bar A’ Càneva , and the starting points for both the hike to Manarola and to Vernazza.
Corniglia is full of charm and it’s not as busy and crowded as some of the other Cinque Terre towns. Town is typical of narrow streets, endless stairs, and houses in the beautiful Ligurian pastel colors. Follow Via Fieschi to the terrace over the sea and enjoy the view. I kind of wish I had brought binoculars.
Leisure time, any time of the day here, is devoted to the passeggiata (evening stroll), as locals do their laps and tourist on cell phones are oblivious to being in the way. One can walk the entire town in 10 minutes, and that includes a stop for gelato. Wandering lazily up and down Via Fieschi, my itinerary tends to become stroll, pause, stroll, Prosecco, stroll, dinner and white wine, stroll and gelato. In the Cinque Terre – Life is Good!
I had planned for a possible excursion along the coast by train, taking in the scenery. However, I was quickly disabused of this plan. It is less than 10 minutes by train Riomaggiore to Monterosso. I had thought the word “scenic” but probably 90% of this commute is inside tunnels of rock carved into the mountains with sunlight only at the train stations. Again, the ferry is the way to commute. It is more expensive, Corniglia has no port, but ferries offer the best views of the Cinque Terre and its villages.
Sunday, I choose to enjoy a restful afternoon contemplating life from my window as thunder rolls across the mountains. I watch storm clouds gather in the east and slowly move in a westerly direction toward Monterosso; curtains of rain pass over Monterosa. The temperature remains warm, the sea is calm as the sun begins to set. A path of gold trails across the ocean as brilliant as the storm clouds are dark.
Clouds drift over the mountains, over San Bernardino and its church tower. And I can hear the thunder as it moves gradually to the west. I don’t get to experience many thunderstorms where I live and so I enjoy the spectacle. The mountains to the west and behind Monterosso have this line of trees that follow along the ridge, resembling a hairy razorback atop the peaks.
There’s no rain as yet and it looks as though there is some blue sky peeking out above San Bernardino. The entire storm is passing, numerous shower curtains of rain now extending from Monterosso well out to sea.
And the birds never stop chirping and seagulls delightfully soar in the air. A dog is barking somewhere in the mountains, obviously disturbed by the sound of the thunder.
The storm moves out to sea. The ocean becomes a deeper blue as the west is a bright orange. Mother Nature, the ultimate mother on this day, is painting her sunset. Rays of sun project from behind clouds and spread across the sky. Distant village lights appear and church bells ring the hour.
Life is truly good.