Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cinque Terra Recap 1: Vernazza

If you've followed my Italian adventures these many years then you know of my love affair with Cinque Terra. I was introduced to CT by a friend way back in 2000 and fell in love with it immediately. Back then it was relatively undiscovered and was much much much cheaper and more enjoyable than it is now. That prick (pardon my French) named Rick Steves did his best to tell everyone in the world about the hidden gem on the Ligurian Sea known as Vernazza - the second of the Cinque Terra which also happens to be our favorite. Due to his efforts, I've seen the amount of tourists steadily increase every year, along with the prices of everything under the sun. And Vernazza isn't Venice or Rome or some other big city; it's a small little fishing village that was never meant for such an influx of tourism as Mr. Steves hath wrought. When I first hiked in Cinque Terra it was free. On this trip it costs 16 Euro for the wife to hike for two days. The locals tell me that with the influx of tourists the past few years it became too difficult to maintain the cleanliness and decent state of the park which accounts for the entrance fee. Thanks Rick Steves! The worst part is that a large number of the tourists you see there now are American college students traveling on their parents' money who are there to party rather than enjoy and appreciate the history, tradition and natural beauty of the place. A few years ago the wife and I cringed as were laying on the beach and bore witness to a severely overweight drunk American college girl make a scene by running across the small beach and into the water with an inflatable mat in one hand and an open bottle of wine in the other. She then proceeded to guzzle wine straight from the bottle while floating on the mat. Thanks again Rick! Despite the crush of tourists and rising prices we still enjoy Vernazza. I've decided to break the recap down into a few different parts since I have so many pictures. Vernazza seems like a good place to start so here's the recap in photos (Click on photos to enlarge):

The arrival to Vernazza when you hike from Montorosso:

Enjoying a glass of white wine at the Ananas Bar overlooking the beach:

Stay tuned soon for the nest recap: The Natural Beauty of Cinque Terra.

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