The Rewards of Walking the Cinque Terre.

I hiked the Cinque Terre. Yes I did. Ok, not all of it – one pathway is impassable due to a landslide in 2011, but I walked as much as I could. I climbed up a plethora of stairs, rocks, and all for what? All to see the 5 stunning villages of the Cinque Terre; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarolo, and Riomaggiore!

My mind can convince my body of anything and everything. Such as – No, you don’t need to buy the Cinque Terre train card – we’ll hike it all – no problem. Now, I love a good hike – I grew up outdoors, and hiking is a great way to explore. But I highly dislike stairs. I don’t get on the stairmaster in a gym for a reason. Stairs are tedious – they hurt my legs, my butt, and every other part of me with each and every step. Worse – I hate uneven stairs; I cannot manage to sustain a moderated pace. Every step is different. And without railings – THE Worst.

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Hands on knees, bent forward, begging my burning calves to not give out (because I walk on my tiptoes on stairs – I know; I make it worse for myself). That it is ONLY a few more stairs, nothing they can’t handle. I just mentally have my brain force my legs to take one more step – every step of the way. My brain tells my legs – if you do this today, you’ll fit into the skinny jeans tomorrow! My legs believe my brain. See – it’s like mental manipulation.

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And suddenly I get another boost of energy and I finally make it to the top. Way to go legs – you’ve made it – but you’ll have to do that again and again for the next 2 hours. They shake unpleasantly. Maybe I need to exercise more on a regular basis?

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But no matter what my legs say, my brain always convinces them, and part of how it manages is because of my deeply routed desire to see spectacular sights. I want to EARN the right to see those sights. And Cinque Terre from afar is a trophy of a sight!

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The 5 tiny villages are adorable. Each perched on hills and the rugged coastline in the Italian Riviera overlooking the Ligurian Sea. Each house painted a different colour of the rainbow, each house vying for attention, each deserving a long look.

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The villages are so unique – they have remained intact and very personable. No cars can truly pass through or across all 5 villages. They are connected by train and by boat. The pathways in the villages are cobblestone and winding whichever way the curve in the mountain required. The paths connecting the villages are natural earth with stone slabs for steps in some portions. The paths are very thin in some portions with incredible drops down the steep rugged terrain of the mountains.

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I felt an energy walking along these pathways. Even with my energy being zapped by the continuous upwards stairs, I knew deep down that the views I would be rewarded with were worth every wobble and breath I expelled. I’ve always dreamed of visiting these villages. There is something so charming about such small corporately untainted villages. They are prestine.

Italy-Cinque-Terree-2-768x1024Each village had its own charm.

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Monterosso is the beach stop. The only village of the 5 with a long beach stretching the length of it, and the only one that is built on moderately flat land.

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Vernazza is the gem of the bunch with its perfectly placed cities and its caressing harbour protecting it from the breaking waves.

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Corniglia is the tiniest of the 5 but definitely holding the title of the cutest. Perched atop a steep V shaped portion of mountain, it hugs the corners and the roads wind steeply upwards.

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Manarolo is the old man of the group. He is the original village out of the 5 and has cascading wine terraces peeking out above the houses.  It shares the famous pathway called La Via dell’Amore – The Way of Love – with its neighbour Manarolo. This pathway joined the two cities for better trading, but became a famous spot for the youth to mingle. Today you can see locks engraved with two lovers names alone the entire pathway.

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Finally we have Riomaggiore. The city of Murals. Each wall is painted in a mural to depict the history of the people who live there; the wine growers, the fisherman, and the transporters. All brightly coloured.

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I may have been exhausted after hiking the Cinque Terre in one day – but what I got to experience was priceless.

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