Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cinque Terre Beaches

This post is a deviation from my usual knitting/crochet theme, however I felt compelled to add it.

This summer we traveled to Italy, and spent five days in Vernazza, Cinque Terre, walking the trails, swimming, and enjoying sunshine. The following review is a humble tribute to this beautiful place.

Beaches in Cinque Terre fall into three categories: public and easily accessible, public with a challenging/difficult access, and a nudist beach. This summer we hiked the trail between five villages, and had ample opportunities to sample the majority of them.

The most “civilized” and crowded was a beach in Monterosso. To reach it, simply take the train that goes between villages, or hike the trail: the views are spectacular! The beach has sand and small pebbles; you can either choose to pay for an umbrella and a chair, enjoying the roped off section, or settle in a free area with your own towel, etc. There are plenty of places to have lunch or gelato right there, but overall this beach is a bit too crowded for my taste.

There are public beaches in each of the five villages: differences between them are not very significant. In Riomaggiore go down the steps as you finish hiking the Via dell' Amore (a part of the Cinque Terre Blue Trail), and enjoy a small beach with rather large pebbles and rocks. No umbrellas or chairs here, the water is clean (as generally on all beaches), and the village is right above you. Every now and then a sightseeing boat makes its noisy appearance, unloading a new group of travelers.

Vernazza has a sandy beach where local people prefer to swim; the area is shallow and roped off from the marina. If you walk to the left of it facing the sea, you can swim from the pier; to the right there are some rocks to sunbathe and another access to the water. This beach is right next to the town square, so food is never far away.

Two beaches near Manarola can be reached from the trail between Manarola and Corniglia. Start in Manarola, and go towards Corniglia until you see steps leading down to the water. There is a small swimming area consisting of a few rocks and a concrete pier from which there is a ladder leading to the water. The place can be packed, though. If you wish for a more secluded spot, walk down the trail a little longer.

The name of this second place is “Punta Buonfiglio”. There are again steps leading down, however the last couple of them are broken, and there is a rope to assist in stepping on the rocks below (not a mounting climbing type of exercise, but requires some fitness). A tiny beach rewards with crystal clear water, and picturesque rocks. Bring a sandwich and enjoy a few hours of swimming and sunbathing.

One of the least crowded is the nudist Guvano beach. There are two ways to reach it. One is through the abandoned railroad tunnel that starts near Corniglia. We did not use this way. Instead you can hike the trail between Vernazza and Corniglia. Somewhere halfway along the trail you will see a hand drawn sign “Spiaggia Libera, 20 min”, which translates as “Free public beach, 20 min”. Take this narrow winding, almost hidden in the thick vegetation trail, and after approximately 20 min of descent arrive to an old road connecting two abandoned railroad tunnels. Walk to your left to a stone stairway down to the beach. It is indeed free, very clean, with many rocks to shelter from the hot sun. The best time to come is in the morning; later the place becomes more populated, but never overwhelmingly so. Obviously, you don’t have to be a nudist to enjoy it. There are no accommodations, or food sources nearby, so bring all your necessities along. The hike back to Vernazza or Corniglia will take about an hour, depending on how fast you will be going.

Top "Firenze"

While vacationing in Italy this summer, we saw plenty of white lacy tops and skirts - the last fashion trend there. That’s why I called this top “Firenze” - Italian for Florence.

I used Elann "Soie Lin" yarn - linen and silk combo; very pleasant to work with.