44° 8.1' N 9° 40.9' E Vernazza, Cinque Terra, Italy
I was really excited to bring Captain to the Cinque Terre, having been here myself a few years back I understood the charm.
Our arrival was hot, really hot, even the sea breeze couldn't cure it. The fishermans harbour in Vernazza is too small for sailing boats so we had secured ourselves to a mooring bouy outside the entrance. With our tender still a wee bit floppy for use we flagged down a lift from an italian gentleman in a wooden boat ( he takes you home too, you gift him what you think is fair).
The Cinque Terre ( Five Lands) are five italian fishing villages dotted along an eight mile stretch of coastline, linked together by steep walking tracks of stunning views, terraced horticulture and natural bush.
It is charming, both the walks and the villages. Each breathtaking path between villages is a rewardingly steep couple of hours in length. The train tracks, cut through the same cliffs you clamber over, run effortlessly along the line so you can walk as many sections as you care in a day and the train will deliver you back the way you came. Ideal.
The next day we wanted an early'ish start so we paddle boarded into shore just before 8, locked the boards up, popped the paddles in the backpack and started our stomp from Vernazza to Corneglia. The track was emptier than expected making it feel earlier than it was, though the temperature was climbing already. By the time we met our first walker, 30 minutes in, we were glowing. Surprise, surprise she was kiwi, hailing from Invercargill ( we kiwis are a keen bunch) had a quick chat about the heat and the views and went on our merry way.
By 10a.m we were sucking down Limone crushed ice in Corneglia, had a wander then caught the train back to Vernazza (we sprinted to catch it, much to the amusement of all onboard as we jumped on panting and sweating).
Vernazza is politely quiet despite heaving with tourists, but underneath she has proved herself to be a determined little town. On 25th Oct 2011 it bucketed with rain (20 inches in four hours, more than a third of there average yearly rainfall!), causing a huge mudslide to wipe out the whole village in one fell swoop. Awash vehicles above the town 'plugged' the flow for a few lifesaving minutes allowing many villages to escape to higher ground. Every store and many homes were decimated and three people lost their lives. A memorial moziac of photographs capturing the disaster gives you a glimpse of the devastation and you have to give the town credit for the strength of the rebuild.
Next stop, Pisa and her leaning tower.