Thursday, 26 October 2017

Cinque Terre I: Vernazza

From Genoa, it was a simple train ride to Cinque Terre - TrenItalia doesn't have a problem with wet leaves, mainly because it is always dry and sunny.  Cinque Terre are a group of 5 old villages spaced along the Ligurian coast.  Because the area is so steep, roads are marginal and there is really no car traffic.  The villages are well served by a rail line - mostly underground in tunnels - but the best way to get between the villages is on the age-old footpaths.  We stayed in Vernazza, a beautiful village steeply arrayed around a perfect little harbour.  The buildings piled on top of each other up the hill offer many places to have a glass of wine and enjoy the view of the other side of town.  The shutters are all green, as specified by the Commissioner of Good Taste*.
The little caruggi (alleyways) here are narrower than in the big city, and much steeper.  Half of them are stairs, often winding around, and sometimes under, people's houses.  It gives that half-indoor / half-outdoor architecture that is so appealing as human habitat - and challenging for urban sketchers!
The church tower is easier to draw, especially when you're sitting on the wharf in the sun with a chocolate croissant.

The area is largely overrun by tourists, but you can time hikes and train trips to avoid most of them, and it is easy to find quiet places off the beaten trails.  Many of the tourists stay in nearby towns, so it is quieter in the piazza in the evening, when more locals come out for soccer games on the beach and discussions in the square.
* Oh yes, there really is a Commissioner of Good Taste.

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