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Up one side and down the other

15 Oct

Saturday it was supposed to rain, a rather large disappointment when one is in the Cinque Terre as the major activities here are out-of-doors.  Luckily the day dawned partly cloudy and we refused to believe the forecast pushed out to our cell phones.

The path begins climbing gently from Monterosso al Mare, but the climbing continues for 2 km.

The path begins climbing gently from Monterosso al Mare, but the climbing continues for 2 km.

The Sentiero Azzuro or “Trail No. 2” is still closed in some sections, plus it is the trail most tourists gravitate to, so we headed in another direction, north out of Monterosso al Mare to the town of Levanto.  As we were staying in Manarola, we had to take a train to Monterosso, about an 11 minute ride. Any adventure that begins with a train ride scores extra points with Ric.

Train station with a view, and Ric.

Train station with a view, and Ric.

The fact that we also started the day with freshly-baked, flaky pastries filled with chocolate,  still warm from the oven… well, need I say more? Yes, I must say more, because we topped off with a torta di noci e marmelada di albicocchi (pie-like pastry with walnuts and apricot jam) before leaving Monterosso. SIGH, I love vacation.

Tower above Monterosso, along the path. A residence? A hotel? Non lo so....

Tower above Monterosso, along the path. A residence? A hotel? Non lo so….

We enjoyed almost complete solitude for the first 2 kilometers of the hike, only encountering three people.  This was a tough trail with steep and unending stairs placed into the hill.  Some scrambling was required where hard rock refused to yield to trail building.

Unending stairs.

Unending stairs.

By now the path is steeper. Ric says try not to show how much he is sweating.

By now the path is steeper. Ric says try not to show how much he is sweating.

Monterosso from above.

Monterosso from above.

After an hour of constant uphill trekking we reached the ruins of the Eremo di Sant’Antonio, a 13th century monastic hermitage at Punto MescoStupendissimo!

Eremo di Sant'Antonio. Imagine buidlng this in the middle ages?

Eremo di Sant’Antonio. Imagine building this in the middle ages?

Ruins of Sant'Antonio

Ruins of Sant’Antonio (Not me! The rock walls!)

Three years ago, in October 2010, we first traveled to Italy and were in the Cinque Terre about this time. We were daunted by the 60-or-so stairs we had to climb to our room in Vernazza! We hiked a portion of the Sentiero Azzuro that trip but nothing nearly so ambitious as this 10 km hike-and-scramble. Now, with a level of fitness we never thought we could achieve, it was a challenge but one we knew we could accomplish.

On the way down, different surfaces through a piney and then deciduous wood.

On the way down, different surfaces through a piney and then deciduous wood.

This is not an environment of “groomed” trails and sometimes it was difficult to tell where the trail was.

At a junction we couldn't decide if this was a stream bed or a path.... The path was in fact hidden to the right and then merged into he stream bed.

At a junction we couldn’t decide if this was a stream bed or a path…. The path was in fact hidden to the right and then merged into he stream bed.

Where's the path? This rock formation presented right in the middle of the path. Where to go? Upon scrutiny, there was a "path" to the right...sort of.

Where’s the path? This rock formation presented right in the middle of the path. Where to go? Upon scrutiny, there was a “path” to the right…sort of.

From Punto Mesco most of the 2.5 hours was in descent, but the extent of trail maintenance seemed to be clearing off fallen trees. Not that it was a bad trail, but in some places it required some creativity in finding the best path. We encountered a number of people hiking up from Levanto, intent on reaching Monterosso.  Looking back at our route, we were happy we hiked Monterosso to Levanto, and equally happy we started quite early as we hit Levanto at just the right time for lunch, allowing us to call this hike yet another Path to Lunch.  And how nice is it to start with pastry and end with wine?

How cute is this? On the outskirts of Levanto, a little cat-feeding station protected by an umbrella.

How cute is this? On the outskirts of Levanto, a little cat-feeding station protected by an umbrella.

Boardwalk in Levanto

Boardwalk in Levanto

It was windy that day.

It was windy that day.

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14 Responses to “Up one side and down the other”

  1. Just gorgeous, thanks for sharing the photos, I really hope to make it Cinque Terre one day. And WOW, you two look amazing!

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  2. Anita HIlmoe October 21, 2013 at 02:09 #

    Wow it is all just beautiful. What a great way to get your exercise so you can enjoy all the ymmies. 🙂

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  3. Kim October 20, 2013 at 17:54 #

    Loved the trails and photos. What great exercise! You two look wonderful.

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  4. Ken October 16, 2013 at 08:14 #

    Laurel,

    It was great to hear that you’re back enjoying Le Cinque Terre. It’s definitely one of my favourite places in Italy (especially Monterosso). I went part way up the trail to Levanto when I was there in June, but didn’t have the time to hike the entire route. A 6 kM uphill trek would be a major effort for me and one that would require some “pre-hike conditioning”. If I’m feeling energetic, I might try that on a future visit. The old Monastery sounds fascinating.
    I also noticed that posh looking tower, and I asked one of the locals about it. It’s apparently a private residence, belonging to some rich folks that use it for a “summer home”. There’s an exclusive Yacht club right below that, but I wasn’t able to get into that as I think it’s for “members only”.

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    • gooddayrome October 16, 2013 at 19:06 #

      Hello Ken. You are such a CT fan! I knew you’d like my post. Thanks for adding the bit about the tower. It is so lovely!

      If we had known how challenging the hike would be (had we had a better book!) we might not have gone. But I am glad we did! The book we had made this hike a two or three paragraph sidebar to more major hikes. Ha! Next year we’ll hike up from Vernazza to the Sentiero Rosso!

      *Laurel L. Barton* *Roma, Italia* http://www.GoodDayRome.com

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  5. ckleonard October 16, 2013 at 03:35 #

    Well, I think this excursion looks and sounds very fun. I love the trails! Certainly not boring!

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    • gooddayrome October 16, 2013 at 03:44 #

      We are NEVER bored, Carolyn, NEVER! The Cinque Terre has become our annual Cannon Beach trip replacement, but with more stairs. 🙂

      *Laurel L. Barton* *Roma, Italia* http://www.GoodDayRome.com

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      • ckleonard October 17, 2013 at 01:53 #

        Hi! I wasn’t clear! I meant because the “path” had so many varying surfaces, angles and “is this really a trail” look, it couldn’t be a boring trek just looking at the ground!!!

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  6. Sharon October 15, 2013 at 19:36 #

    You guys look GREAT! Hiking Cinque Terre is so much fun! The mausoleums were very sad though. Did you find the nude beach??

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    • gooddayrome October 15, 2013 at 19:48 #

      Did not search out the nude beach… Too cold! I think Mausoleums are far less depressing than cemeteries!

      *Laurel L. Barton* *Roma, Italia* http://www.GoodDayRome.com

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      • Evie October 23, 2013 at 07:40 #

        Somehow I just found your blog while I was looking for a manicurist in Rome and in fact near the Embassy. Do you remember the name or address, it’s been 4 weeks and I need some help!

        Like

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