Today I’m bringing you an enthusiastic Italophile, Helen Crossley who has possibly visited even more of my homeland than I have so far! She shares with us her memories of her magical stay in Cinque Terre and transports us to one of the most romantic spots in Italy.
It took quite a while but eventually I found it buried in the depths of a box in the loft – a fat, pink envelope file full of photos and souvenirs of ten lovely days on the beautiful Italian coastline of Cinque Terre one September almost 14 years ago. Pre-digital days, my photos were pretty rubbish. The weather was unseasonably cool and damp too. And my foot hurt. But I remember we had a fantastic holiday.
The file is stuffed with faded receipts from restaurants, cafes and gelaterias – the thousands of lira matching the thousands of calories we greedily munched our way through. One photo shows me grinning broadly, about to tuck into a generous plate of delectably soft prosciutto draped over sweet ripe melon. On a couple of days we bought fresh fish and ate it gazing out over the sea from our little apartment. The steep hills all along this stretch of coast leave very few places without a stunning view.
But one of the best ways to appreciate this wonderful landscape is by getting out on the water and taking a boat trip. You can jump on and off at various pretty harbours from Portovenere at the eastern tip round to its glitzy cousin Portofino further west. And, if we hadn’t been shackled by my dodgy foot, we would have taken the stunning coastal path, the Via dell’ Amore, between Monterosso and Vernazza. There is also a handy train to ferry any landlubbers back to base.
The dramatic rocky headland doesn’t endear itself to beach lovers but you will have no trouble getting your fix of a dip in the sea. There are plenty of small pebbly beaches and little bays from which you can immerse yourself in the clear turquoise waters of the Ligurian sea. An early evening stroll to St. Peter’s church by the harbour in Portovenere rewarded us with a grandstand view of local lads performing some impressive swallow dives into Byron’s Grotto many feet below.
As I’m squashing all the old maps and tourist brochures back into the file, I realise I’m smiling at the old memories and I notice a card at the back. Covered in hearts, it’s from my Mum & Dad wishing us a very happy anniversary – it certainly was!