Visitare le Cinque Terre

Visit the Cinque Terre: what to see and discover from Monterosso to Vernazza

It is the best way. Visit the Cinque Terre on foot: fatigue will inflame your appetite. Plus it’s just walking the ridge, leaning in between vineyards stubborn lashed by the caress of the basil he was born in thyme, that you will understand that the turquoise sweetness of the sea is only an illusion. At least for those who have their feet planted on the ground. Indeed, stuck in the rock. “I know it sounds strange to say. But those of the Cinque Terre are mountain villages. With a soul of stone ”, reflects Maurizio Bordoni, chef of the“ Cappun Magru ”restaurant in Groppo di Manarola.

From here the sea is perhaps less than five hundred meters, just beyond a cliff. But the wave is a discreet presence. It is there but without being seen. Yet it is true: in these places in the past, before the tsunami of tourism, the land has always been worked. The little wealth came from woods and the flavors were those of the garden, the farmyard and the stable. With the sea there has always been a relationship of love and hate. The old people explain it without wasting too much time: in dialect the words that indicate “sea” and “evil” have the same sound.

Visiting the Cinque Terre: turning your back on the sea

A case? In no way. What among these cliffs overlooking the most beautiful villages of the Ligurian Sea the waves have always given only the roar of wind and storm, the bad hiss of the storm that rages against the rocks, driving the people away from the coasts. Pushing them higher, towards the ridges, towards the paths that line the mountain. Up there where the winding streets which lead to those shrines which, seen from the sea, are only distant dots. Visit the Cinque terre also means climbing, not just diving. Now, that crowded trains relentlessly unload flip-flop visitors from all over the world seems almost unbelievable. But these are areas that have known the harshness of a daily life made of little. Almost nothing.

And who have always aimed their gaze towards the ridge as a refuge where they can earn a living, tell those with gray hair. This is echoed by Cristiane Utsch, German by birth and Ligurian by love, even in her cadence, undecided between the slow chant of the dialect and the rough consonants of her mother’s speech. And in her way, again, it’s a battle between Earth And sea. “There is an image that tells this contrast better than many words: and it is that of the old peasant women with the dark skirt folded in their lap who stubbornly hoed the terraces of lean earth brought back with difficulty by hand to give new life to the sheer drop into the blue. But they did it always turning their backs on the sea “.

Visit the Cinque Terre

Visit the Cinque Terre: wine, mussels and anchovies

“Now people come to visit the Cinque Terre dreaming of a beach holiday and sit down at the table looking for the ubiquitous sea bream, the usual sea bass. But speaking of fish here meant mentioning almost exclusively the tasty ones anchovies that have always been fished for Monterosso – continues Bordoni who combines his passion for cooking with a sincere love for his land. To be understood and rediscovered with the rigor of a philologist. – The anchovies, however, here, as in the other villages, arrived by land, thanks to a woman as thin as a fish who slowly passed from house to house bringing the fish that each family then salted and prepared “.

And we are talking about an ancient ritual, which fortunately still holds up to changing times, while now almost lost memory are the descents in groups of the women of the clinging countries above that swarmed down towards the waves: where with the pillowcases tightly in hand, a precious saddlebag to be filled, necklaces of mussels were raided from the rocks with which to season the pasta of the feast day. To then go up towards the woods, the steep fields. Towards the bristly terraces of vineyards overlooking overhanging.

Those are the same vineyards that are still reflected on the sea today but which must be safeguarded to defend the entire territory. The vines here are grown on the terraces protected by the dry stone walls raised over centuries of effort by men who were never tamed. For every low wall that yields, for every vine that is abandoned, it is a piece of Five lands which risks collapsing. Because the Cinque Terre are splendid, but fragile. And landslides are a curse that goes hand in hand with that of storm surges.

Visit the Cinque Terre

Visit the Cinque Terre: the Unesco Heritage

A bitter fate for this territory that Unesco wanted “World Heritage Site”And where, in a few years almost everything has changed: despite the willing commitment of National Park who is committed to the protection of the Cinque Terre now these shores certainly no longer experience the harsh toil of peasants. But certainly little Italian dollars of tourists who came from afar to travel trails overlooking a sea that moves, when from the turning of a path the blue seems painted. And it seems impossible it could have been scary. Now there are droves of Americans, Canadians. Even Australians and Chinese who come for visit the Cinque Terre and to pose for some of the most invasive photos on social media around the world. But long before boys in Bermuda invaded these villages once people came from other beaches in Italy. And he certainly did not come here to vacation. But to fish.

TO Vernazza three Calabrian brothers, a Manarola two immigrants from Campania: the recent history of the small lands overlooking this large sea is also made up of the legacy of immigrants who have come to live from the fatigue of the network. In a world of mountaineers worried about the idea of ​​dipping their feet in water.
Once again the same story: people not used to fishing, frightened by the absence of landings and by the force of the sea, preferred to climb towards the ridge. The most obvious proof is Corniglia, the only “land” that gave up the sea at the start. And she is perched over a hundred meters above the sea. Or, if you prefer, 377 steps above the railway that connects these shreds of Mediterranean paradise in a flash.

Visit the Cinque Terre

Visit the Cinque Terre: five languages ​​along the way of love

In short, the paradox reigns supreme. From Nebraska or Queensland we leave for a journey that leads down here, where the dream is to visit the Five lands and dive into an archetype of Mediterranean Sea. But without knowing that here is the land that matters. While the paths today traveled by Scandinavians in pedules and snowshoes from alpine peaks are the salty-scented dirt roads that once separated distant worlds.

So far away that even the language changes. In our world made up of global networks it seems an absurdity: but each of the Five lands it has its own dialect which often has profound differences. The curious fact that the major dissonances lie between Riomaggiore And Manarola. Which are the two closest towns, united by what everyone knows as the famous “Love way“.

Visit the Cinque Terre

Countries where in the hot and crowded summer, it is better to move by train, jumping between stations engraved in the rock, but above all on foot, along good trails for all legs where to make the gaze go between the different ones shades of blue of sky and sea. And where even rosemary and agave reveal that even the leaves know the nuances. In this case all those of the green. After the walk it is nice to stop and give yourself a long breath and a bite. Even if only focaccia to nibble while looking at the sea. Which, as the song says, “is scary because it moves even at night. It never stands still ”.

Without forgetting that even just tearing up a focaccia on the steep marina of Riomaggioreamong the boats in the dry, or on the steps of Manarola becomes, for the magical atmosphere, something different. A dive into a world that seems to have crystallized over time. A multicolored emotion like the houses that, unable to expand, had to rise upwards. While once impetuous and now harnessed streams flow under the cobbled streets.

Visit the Cinque Terre

Visit the Cinque Terre: the poetry of the landscape

Then the time will come to get back on the road to the next town where you can finally sit in front of a table to taste more intense flavors because they are simple. Like the pesto son of basil fragrant, stuffed muscles (the colorful local name for mussels), ravioli.

Swollen with the same flavors that perfume the cliffs. The choice of clubs is wide, the terraces wedged between squares and alleyways offer heart-pounding views and when, as evening falls, the throngs of hit-and-run tourists vanish on the trains. Five lands they regain possession of their silence barely streaked by the whistling of the wind. In those moments, while the White wine tarnishes the glass of a glass, that “pale and absorbed snack” comes to mind Montale, man and poet of these lands, made immortal. Then there remains the gaze that flees towards the open sea, the blue that turns into blue when the sun sets. At dawn the tireless walkers will return to the paths, the stubborn peasants on the monorails that plow through the vines. But above all “the distant palpitations of sea scales among the leaves”. Said so it seems a cliché. But in these parts it is poetry.

Visit the Cinque Terre

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