3 nights program in Cinque Terre

If you have never had a chance to visit this beautiful part of Italy, here is a handy 3 days program to make the most of the 5 villages included in the Cinque Terre, with its seaside and its surrounding nature.

Fly into Genova in the morning and take the train to your booked accommodation (around 2 hours journey). We personally stayed in Riomaggiore, which is the southern of the 5 ‘lands’, and it felt the most alive at night time, with plenty of bars and restaurants open until late despite being a tiny town.

Even if its main attraction ‘La Via dell’amore’ (a beautiful seaside terraced pathway between Riomaggiore and Manarola) has been closed for a few years now due to an important landslide (they are hoping to restore it in a couple of years), there is another beautiful walk starting from the center of the village and going up on top of its little castle to then walk down a pathway not far from the train station with enchanting views on the sea that leads you back down to its picturesque harbor, followed by its beach.

RIOMAGGIORE

 

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The following day we purchased a 24 hour Cinque Terre card for £16 which includes all trains between the 5 towns at any time (hop on, hop off), all buses within the little towns and the tickets to access 2 beautiful hiking pathways who have an admission fee to preserve its nature. This card is also available for 48h or 3 days but to budget at best we used trains and pathways all on the same day.

In fact we took the train from Riomaggiore to Corniglia. There we waited for the bus from the train station to avoid going up the over 300 stairs to get to the main village (Corniglia is the only one which has no harbor as it is on a higher level than the sea). From there we started walking on this breathtaking pathway between Corniglia and Vernazza (90 minutes hiking on average – Normal charge €7). If you are wearing appropriate shoes and are in good shape, it is quite accessible. The pathway then continues from Vernazza di Monterosso for another 120 minutes roughly, where without the Cinque terre card you would have to pay a new admission fee of €7 (for a total of €14 without the convenience of this special ticket).

TREKKING VIEWS BETWEEN CORNIGLIA AND MONTEROSSO

 

We arrived in Vernazza for lunch time and discovered probably our preferred village among the 5 (even if Manarola is a good competitor lol). Vernazza is really charming as you get a beautiful view on its 2 old towers when you arrive by hiking from Corniglia. Yet, the other side with its small main square, its’ harbor, it’s tiny beach and its castle is a real wonder as well!

VERNAZZA

 

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We walked around, relaxed and had an ice cream until the hottest hours of the day were over and around 4pm we resumed our hiking towards Monterosso. We met a very unusually funny lemonade and Limoncello seller half way through the 2 villages (the typically cheeky Italian style ‘businessman’!). We arrived in Monterosso around 6.30pm and run straight to the beach to have a bath in the sea to refresh ourselves (Monterosso is the only town with sandy beaches). Then we had a DELICIOUS dinner at Il Piccolo Diavolo restaurant with excellent seafood! We finally caught the train home around 10.30pm (it feels very safe to travel in between the villages even at night time and there are trains every 20 minutes – In fact they call it the ‘Cinque Terre Tube’!).

MONTEROSSO

 

The following day we decided to see everything from the sea, as a boat trip was really a must to discover the area in a different way. We had also been advised if we had spare time to visit Portovenere which is located further south from Riomaggiore and despite is not part of the denomination ‘Cinque Terre” is really a must. It cannot be reached by train but only by bus from La Spezia or by boat from La Spezia or Riomaggiore. So around 10am we caught a morning train from Riomaggiore back to Monterosso, the northern of the 5 ‘lands’ and there we bought a ferry ticket Monterosso – Portovenere for €18. It was so beautiful to see all the villages from the sea, a completely different prospective!

Ferry boat views

In Portovenere we arrived around lunch time (it takes 80 minutes to get from Monterosso by ferry) where we relaxed and even took a dip in the sea just in front of the famous Byron Grotto! If you have more time at disposal there are lots of things to see in the area as just in front of Portovenere there are several islands, a bit like Bournemouth and Poole with the Isle of Wight, so there are lots of  boat trips to go around those islands and see them closer or some people just go on the other side to relax on its beaches. But beware, the last ferry back towards Cinque terre is unfortunately at 5pm and no later. For £13 you get back to Riomaggiore o Manarola. We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening in Manarola as it was the only town (with Corniglia) we had not visited yet.

PORTOVENERE

 

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Manarola turned out to be such a charming little town! Less alive then Riomaggiore as the upper part only has houses and nearly any bar or restaurant (they are mainly concentrated around its harbour), but much more countryside, surrounded by beautiful vineyards all around the side of the mountains where it is located, with such a relaxing vibe as if we had stepped into a painting!

MANAROLA

 

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The following morning we only had half day left before returning home, so we took a train from Riomaggiore to Manarola, had a little wander in its vyneyards and then took a bus to Volastra a small town located further up between Manarola and Corniglia, from where there is a free hiking pathway to get to Corniglia (it took us 2 hours due to the heath). There is a free track between Manarola to Volastra, as well but it’s tougher to do and we did not have enough time so we cut it short with the bus service. We really enjoyed the trekking there as well and arrived in Corniglia around lunch time. We walked around enjoying the sea views from a higher level, even if we felt it was the most touristic of the 5 lands.

CORNIGLIA

 

 

As usual I hope you will enjoy this program from my personal travel guide for the budgeting ideas and the precious local information I am sharing here with you!

When Mother’sDay becomes more of a personal turmoil that makes you grow out of difficulty

E ancora una volta il mio feed di Facebook si intasa di status relativi alla festa della mamma, leggo di come le mie coetanee trentenni apprezzino il sostegno e la comprensione delle loro madri, di come non saprebbero fare a meno di loro…

Quest’anno per la prima volta voglio anche io scrivere qualcosa in quest’occasione speciale… Non che possa scrivere come tutte le donne della mia generazione di quanto mia madre sia un appoggio cruciale e una forza della natura o che non so davvero come farei senza di lei… No, a noi non è toccato in sorte questo tipo di rapporto: piuttosto sono io quella decisa che sa sempre come prendere in mano la mia vita, mentre lei di solito ascolta ispirata ed entusiasta; di rado la chiamo spontaneamente, piuttosto le telefono prima che mi faccia il terzo grado perché non ha mie notizie, perché lei ha bisogno di sentire la mia voce e non viceversa o reciprocamente; sono io che le do consigli e la scuoto un po’ quando entra nel suo letargo emotivo… Non che gliene faccia una colpa, ma se ho un problema personale invece, trovo il sostegno pratico o umano di cui ho bisogno in altre persone, come lo trovavo in sua sorella, la zia che ho perso quasi due anni fa ma che sentivo più come una madre che mia madre stessa… 
Però anche la mia mamma ha dato qualcosa a me, cose diverse dalle altre madri immagino: una seconda nazionalità con tutto quello che comporta essere francesi (chauvinisti e che ci si lamenta sempre fino ad ottenere il meglio per se stessi); mi ha sempre detto quanto sono bella e intelligente, così tante volte che ci credo davvero tutt’oggi, anche quando insicura lo diceva anche per sentirsi fiera che fosse sangue suo, perché lei non pensa affatto lo stessa cosa di se stessa; la sensibilità di acquisire mano a mano la compassione, partendo da quella nei suoi confronti per tutte le cose che non è riuscita a darmi, imparando da sola piano piano che ha comunque fatto del suo meglio e che da qui in poi posso continuare da sola… 
Non ho neanche una foto da sola insieme a lei da pubblicare qui su Facebook, perché non ci saranno mai momenti da immortalare tipo uno scambio di vestiti, un piccolo viaggio, dello shopping insieme, un pomeriggio a prendere il tè, oltretutto odia essere fotografata… Ma posso prendere quello che c’è di meglio da questa relazione, invece di continuare a rimpiangere tutto quello che non è stato, e posso sfruttare al meglio la seconda occasione che mi è stata data il 1 Maggio di 3 anni fa con l’arrivo di mia figlia per colmare tutto ciò dell’idea di un rapporto madre-figlia che non posso soddisfare dall’alto. 
Buona festa delle mamme a tutte quante dunque, a me, a lei, a mia figlia per la madre che sarà se vorrà avere dei figli di scelta sua, a quelle che ignorano di essere eroine della quotidianità e anche per tutte quelle che sanno di essere un po’ meno capaci o portate o all’altezza di questo ruolo così impegnativo.

Why boarding schools should be abolished

My son and I are currently reading together ‘The Midnight gang’ by David Walliams. I found the book in Tesco the other day for £5 only and since at the moment he is loving ‘The World’s worst children’ by the same author and I can see how this encourages him to read on his own if he wants to continue the story when I leave his bedroom at night, I had no hesitation to add it in my shopping basket even if at first I had had no intention to buy him a new book that day. The strawberries and bread I had purchased that day would make him stronger and taller but there is nothing like a good book to feed a soul!

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You can never buy too many books to your kids

I just realized how many books we have in our home, books for the grown ups, books for the little ones… And of course the kids books are on lower levels so they can help themselves any time.
I recently bought two amazing ones, one for my 6 years old son, one for my 3 years old girl. There is nothing more to say about those, just looking at them it’s clear how great purchases they are.

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A special space to fight nightmares

Despite my kids both generally sleep through the night since they were around 7 months old, they have had periods when they had regular really frightening nightmares and have been waking up in the middle of the night, absolutely unable to fall back asleep as terrified to remain alone in their rooms.
Unfortunately we have the smallest double bed size in our room, a queen size, and my husband is quite big. We found in the past that letting them sleep with us was simply another nightmare for us, as not only there was definitively not enough space for 3 of us (let alone 4 when they had a nightmare during the same night at different times) but also because they move a lot in their sleep.
In the past we tried to lie next to their bed to comfort them so they could fall asleep again but they often cannot let go completely as they know that we will go back to our bed as soon as we think they are asleep again: that’s when they open their eyes wide open and they start crying terrified as we were about to leave the room…!

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When terrorists obtain the opposite of their cause, the spreading of love

We are brainwashed about horror every day on TV, social media, newspapers. A bomb killing hundreds of civilians does not make any more effect on us, chemical weapons used on kids don’t mean anything to our lives, we don’t interrupt our routine if gay people are tortured and killed in mass not far from our borders. Even when we get the odd terrorist attack on our lands, we have plenty of sharing to do on Facebook about our indignation or the immense sadness that is a young child being killed at a concert, but the ugly truth is that deep down we don’t really care about that either…

It is only when we know of the details, it’s when we realize we knew one of the victims very well, someone who lead the same existence as we do to the point it could have been us instead of them in those tragic circumstances, that we finally get properly the proportion of the facts we are hearing. The real terror, the nightmares, the incommensurate sense of each and everyone life’s meaning suddenly kicks into our flash, not only within our cold logical thinking as it’s been doing until now. At least that’s what happened to me in the last 24 hours.

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Brittany in my childhood memories

I know Brittany very well. My mum was born and raised over there and I spent every single summer holidays in the area until I was 18. I remember my grandparents country house with that huge garden where I could play for hours (ironically sold in the late 90s to an English man and his wife who I am in contact with twice a year by Xmas wishes and birthday pictures of my kids). And I know by hear the streets of the little main town (Quimper) where my mother grew up and returned to once a year to be closer to her parents and siblings since she lived in a foreign country for her (Italy, where my father is from and I was born and raised).

 

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