Corniglia & Manarola, Italy

Hi friends, happy Wednesday! It’s been a while since my last post. Lately, I haven’t been spending a lot of time on my computer, which means I haven’t been very diligent in editing photos, and thusly, posting on the blog. I’ve been wrapped up in some cool real-world things, such as securing a new job (more on this exciting news later), training for a half-marathon, making art, and enjoying the holiday season. Last night I zoomed Stateside for Christmas. I’m currently sitting on a bed in my parent’s house, fending off cats and waiting for a suitable hour to get a cup of tea (because it’s only 5am – ohh hey hey jet lag). I am hoping to share one more Berlin post with you this week before we all get swept up by Christmas cheer. Let’s see if I can stick to this goal! Today, I thought I’d share my remaining Italy photos. So far in Cinque Terre, Amie and I had explored Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, and Riomaggiore, saving two of the most dreamy villages for last. 10408869_805372874830_3375569558160099926_nManarola (above) is the second smallest village in Cinque Terre, renown for winemaking and seafood. Geographically, it’s not hard to see why. The village is perched on a cliff, dangling in a slew of pastel colors above the sea. Small fishing boats chug in and out of the harbor, towing in the day’s catch and providing fresh fare to the village. While I’d been told that Manarola was hands-down the most beautiful village in Cinque Terre, our first stop of the day would be Corniglia, the only village in Cinque Terre that is not directly adjacent to the sea.

But wait! Because before Manarola, and before Cornigilia, we had pizza. Sloppy, goopy pizza, for breakfast in Vernazza. We skipped our leisurely cafe coffee and pastry, and instead walked up to a small window serving heavenly cheese, pesto, and salami pizza.
IMG_1479We ate it on the street, because who can resist that first, way too hot and excellently cheesy bite??output_BlyziIWe then wound our way through Vernazza, up behind the village and onto the walking path headed towards Corniglia. IMG_1486Unfortunately, during our visit, some of the walking paths that connect the five villages of Cinque Terre were closed. The path from Riomaggiore to Manarola was closed, as was the path from Manarola to Cornigilia. This left only two trails on the Blue Path open to explore, which was kind of a bummer. We didn’t know this at first, and took the train to Riomaggiore one morning with hopes of hiking to Manarola. However, when we trekked up to the trailhead, there were ‘danger!’ signs posted and the path was roped off. We later learned that torrential rains and landslides had wiped out the path, making it impassable. And so we savored the hike from Vernazza to Cornigilia, one of the only two trails currently open on the Blue Path.
IMG_1494The views of Vernazza from above were beautiful. Previously, we had hiked to Monterosso al Mare, which is north of Vernazza. On this occasion we were hiking to the south, which lead us up and behind one of the village’s stone towers. In the distance we could see a second stone tower, erected hundreds of years ago to guard the village from pirate attacks, which were unfortunately not uncommon. 
IMG_1502The sea views were lovely, and we drank in our fair share before climbing into a thick bramble of trees, scaling along the mountainside towards Cornigilia. IMG_1507IMG_1510The path (which you can barely make out in the photo below) climbed alongside an array of lush greenery, past vineyards and groves of olive trees. IMG_1512 IMG_1556After about an hour of hiking, we could finally make out Corniglia off in the distance. The village was perched high on a cliff, overlooking the sea.
IMG_1520IMG_1529As we hiked closer, the village’s many rainbow colors became more apparent. IMG_1547Eventually we descended upon the village, as the afternoon sun cast long, yellow shadows. 
IMG_1549IMG_1559IMG_1564IMG_1560First item of business in Cornigilia was ice cream, as it was well past noon and we had clearly worked off our single slice of pizza on the hike (or so we told ourselves). 
IMG_1572We found a cute gelateria where we got large lemon slushies to stroll with.IMG_1578Amie was still feeling under the weather, and the cold slush was just what the doctor ordered (or so we told ourselves, again). IMG_1584We wandered through the village, treat in hand, without any real destination. IMG_1569IMG_1565 Corniglia is characterized by narrow roads and an ocean front terrace where both sides of the village can be seen. And so after a noon of roaming, we headed towards the terrace to catch the sunset. 
IMG_1568IMG_1585IMG_1591The views were stunning, but off in the distance we could see Manarola, and made a split-second decision to book it over to Manarola for sunset.
IMG_1611Which turned out to be a bad idea, because the trains were delayed for an hour. So instead of watching the sunset from Manarola, we watched our final Italian sunset from the train station in Cornigilia . . . which was not a bad consolation prize. IMG_1600benchmanIMG_1618IMG_1609Finally we made it to Manarola, and instead of watching the sun set, we made our way down to the water to watch the full moon rise. 

IMG_1650It was an awkwardly-lit hour of the evening, where all photos were either too dark, or too bright. 
IMG_1646
Some, with a bit of extra lighting, came out just right. IMG_1667Eventually we made our way to the harbor, where dozens of people had gathered to watch the moon rise. IMG_1678IMG_1686It slowly made its way up and over the village, illuminating the rocky cliffs and boats in the harbor. IMG_1730We strolled alongside the shorefront, taking in the view from multiple vantage points. 
IMG_1690IMG_1724After a while, the moon was no longer visible and it was time to find dinner. IMG_1745I used to last 2% of my phone’s battery to log onto Trip Advisor and find the top rated restaurant in Manarola. We then asked locals to point us in the right direction. After 20 minutes of winding down back alleys and up steep hills (all the while murmuring ‘this has to be wrong!’) we finally stumbled across Trattoria dal Billy.
IMG_1764Thankfully, they had one open table, and we were seated for our last Italian feast.IMG_1782IMG_1761Which of course started with wine. We went for the house white which was complete with a Trattoria dal Billy label.IMG_1772We devoured two baskets of fresh bread, as the accompanying thick balsamic cream was to die for. In celebration f our last meal in Italy, we also went all-out and got three courses. As Amie does not like seafood, I was forced to devour an entire bowl of mussels by myself. Amie went for a Christmas-colored mozzarella, basil, and tomato salad. IMG_1777IMG_1778If visiting again, I would be sure to drag along a seafood fanatic, as the most popular (and so they say, mouth watering) dish on the menu was the The Mixed Antipasto di Mare – which consists of 12 small plates, allowing a taste of Billy’s finest seafood as selected by the chef. However, this dish must be shared by 2 people, and Amie (of all friends, in all places) does not like seafood! That’s ok though, because the seafood pasta, with a mixture of clams, shrimp, and mussels, made up for the lack of small seafood places. IMG_1784Amie went for the traditional spaghetti with tomato sauce, which was also cooked to perfection. IMG_1789For our third course, we shared the veal, which was prepared in a light lemon butter. Although it did not photograph too well, it was simply delectable. We could not finish the veal, and got it to go (and this is where I tell you I was a super sexy lady and ate it with my fingers on the way to the airport – hot). 
IMG_1792We caught one of the last trains back to Vernazza, and snuggled into our cute Italian beds for our last evening in Cinque Terre. IMG_1794Cinque Terre is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. The are five small villages to explore, each with their own unique charm. There are hiking trails, handmade pasta delicacies, amazing seafood restaurants, beaches, a plethora of shops serving creamy gelato, ample amounts of sunshine, and many smiling Italian faces. It’s an ideal trip for a long weekend, for friends, families, or lovers. Thank you Italy, for showing us so much beauty!

xo Ali

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