We decided to go shopping for lunch-type food and wait out the rain. We found a small mom and pop shop to buy some food (Which was much cheaper than the fancy touristy place the previous evening). We headed back home to eat. D.Rough whipped together an amazing lunch that would have taken me hours. She's the best.
It finally stopped raining – we hoped – and we hit the trail. When we bought the ticket for the path, I asked the lady if the trails were all open (something I ran into last time I was here – mudslides take out the trails pretty regularly, especially in wet weather). She said no none of them were, actually – well, she MIGHT have been nice enough to tell us that before we bought the tickets, but it didn’t matter. We hit the trail that was paved – the Via dell’Amore (the lover’s path). We took all kinds of photos and the weather was holding out nicely.
Yes, this photo placement was intentional.
When the people at the ticket booth say the path is closed, they mean the coastal path is closed. The pretty one where you get to walk on the cliff face and overlook the water. It’s a pretty brutal hike to do straight through – it takes about 4+ hours to go from beginning to end. What they don’t normally tell you is there are more advanced paths up higher on the mountain. It isn’t a direct shot, but you get waaaay up there and get to see a lot. That’s where we were going. I will remind you, I just said “more advanced paths”.
I won’t go into details, but the hiking here is tough. It isn’t mountain climbing or anything, but it’s a LOT of elevation change and none of it is paved or really developed. Serious leg burn. D.Rough plays roller derby and even her legs were on fire a couple of times. We didn’t see ANYONE on the paths we were on, except for a German couple all decked out in fancy matching gear and walking sticks. It probably cost them $500 just to hike – meanwhile, American bravado won out as we blew past them wearing jeans and a band shirt (me) and work out pants and roller derby sweatshirt (D.Rough).
The advanced path takes you through the small town of Volastra – very small. What’s weird about this town is there didn’t appear to be anyone here. No one. Seriously we walked through the town on a Sunday afternoon and there was no one to be found. Anywhere. Serious ghost town, but amazingly well-kept. We are sure people live here, but they must all congregate in some hidden underground bunker/hive and only come out to eat the souls of those lost on the hike.
Then, it started to sprinkle. And then, it started to rain. Of course. While we’re on the top of this mountain and miles (or kilometers) from the nearest village with a train. We had only made it to the third town out of five in over four hours. And our legs weren’t going to take us any further – plus we were going to run out of daylight. We grabbed the train back to Riomaggiore (after walking down half a billion stairs to get to the train station.
We had planned to go home, shower, change clothes, and head to the furthest village (Monterosso) to have a nice fancy dinner, but when we overslept from our nap, we realized there was no way we’d make it and be able to catch the last train back to Riomaggiore. We opted for the in-town option. We picked the best looking menu of the three or four restaurants in Riomaggiore – La Grottina.
We had a big salad with cheese, tomato, and balsamic vinegar to start (and of course a bottle of wine – Cinque Terre White 2007). I got these three vegetarian pies (carrot, potato, and zucchini), which were absolutely awesome. Like little quiches. D.Rough got the sea bass (insert Admiral Ackbar joke here), which despite having a head looking you in the eye while eating it, was good and light. I even liked it a little bit and I’m not much of a fish guy. I ordered a veal stew and was thrilled with it. It had lots of vegetables in it and not a lot of olive taste, which was what I was expecting based on the menu description. I needed this dessert wine called Sciacchetra – a VERY sweet wine served with biscuits) and D.Rough got the chocolate cake, which was goooey and delicious. D.Rough is yelling at me to write “the best EVER!” – so I did.
Our legs were quite stiff from the hike on our way back up the 419 stairs to our apartment. We finally made it and passed out in a serious way.