AUTUMN IN CINQUE TERRE: SWIMMING, WALKING, EATING AND… HALLOWEEN IN THE CASTLE!
After many years we decided to return to the Cinque Terre using La Spezia as a base and public transport to visit the countries. The following are impressions, tips, and some stories about this little vacation. Cinque Terre is a wonderful, loved and well-known sequence of small traditional villages (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore) perched between the rocky coast of Liguria, between sea and mountain. Beautiful spots, colorful villages, a lot of tracks to walk on the mountain in front of the sea with terrific views, excellent food and great local wines: a very Italian experience! TRANSPORTATION Trains and ferries can be used to visit the Cinque Terre. Railways are very convenient, the rides are frequent (at least during high season and during the holidays) and the cost is cheap (4 Euros for any route between La Spezia and Monterosso); unfortunately though the trains and the stations are very crowded with users and not only….. Wall warnings, voice alerts and automatic ticketing screens warn about pickpockets, and we can confirm by personal experience: an unsuspecting, well-dressed and combed guy with a star-tattoo on his neck tried to open the backpack I was wearing on my shoulder; once discovered, he pretended to go to the bus and, as soon as he believed we were gone, he fell back into the crowd on the stairs and approached a girl with the same technique, then he quitted because he noticed that we kept an eye on him. Unfortunately no law enforcement representative was present at the station and we could not report the fact. Another way to move is ferry, that only runs in high season, racing is much less frequent than the train and the cost is higher (Riomaggiore-Vernazza 9 Euro, Monterosso-La Spezia 30 Euro). The journey is however very scenic and the views of the countries by the ferry are very impressive. Even the boats at peak times are very crowded and we recommend not arriving last on board: it can happen to be in the middle of a crowd (like a boat of immigrants) and fail to even approach the railing or a window. TO SLEEP Aside from research on the usual search engines, it should be noted that both in La Spezia and in all the Cinque Terre there are many bed and breakfasts. We stayed in a b&b in La Spezia in a multiethnic area bordering the center and full of restaurants, clubs and shops. EAT If you want to have a snack, Liguria is the right region: pizza, farinata, normal focaccia and Recco focaccia (with soft cheese). In Monterosso we tested "Pia", a take away focacceria in Piazza Garibaldi very cheap and provided, that offers a nice selection of pizzas, focacce, pies and other gourmet products: test them! In Vernazza there is a chance to build your own sandwich, just go to the main street, look for "Lunch box" and start by choosing the container: bread or focaccia? Then add slices, cheeses, vegetables and everything you want to match them according to your taste, even in a questionable way! You then pay the sum of the prices of the ingredients you use. Outside there is some place to sit. In La Spezia there is a very special restaurant named "Minestrone da Tiffany"; but the originality of the place is given by the owner, a nice gentleman who, after taking the orders, prepares the dishes smoothly (he does not have a real kitchen but a kind of kitchenette), serves them to the waiter (a young man at the same time volunteered and lazy), he goes out to sit among the tables to smoke and chat with the customers and he will not come back unless you go calling him! Do you want to know what are more or sweet proposals? Get up and go out to ask! The menu is not very rich and it changes day by day; we ate minestrone (of course), pesto dumplings, stuffed muscles and apple pie, all good although I would have expected more from the minestrone. Very cheap bill. SWIMMING IN AUTUMN It is not the first time that we are going to swim for the Ognissanti holidays in Liguria: the sun and the temperature of the water, that is still pleasant, having not yet undergone winter cooling, allow to make the last swim in the year. The most beautiful and comfortable beaches are in front of Monterosso. We also visited the narrow beach below Corniglia station (go from the opposite side of the village) and in Vernazza, right in the village, accessing through a suggestive rocky cave. LA SPEZIA La Spezia is not a beautiful city, it seems to ignore the sea in front of it. There is a new marina, a new deck and many recreational boats of varying size but the heart of the city is within, far from the sea. During the autumn holidays, however, it showed a vitality that one would not expect in Liguria in the fall. Saturday and Sunday "La Spezia in festival" offers events in restaurants and bars, medieval menus, street food streets and evening concerts of local youth bands, activities for kids and street artists. In the Halloween Night, at St. George's Castle there was a great party for adults and especially for children: the castle museum was decorated with skeletons, spiders, and cobwebs, located in every corner and in the underground; in the rooms that house the archeological collection of the museum and on the terraces (from which you can enjoy a landscape that embraces the whole city and the harbor) were organized workshops to build ghost houses, paint fake archeological finds or build golem and clay dolls. Finally in the open-air gardens there were fire shows, with fakirs and she-fakirs! The real spectacle, however, was the children masked and dressed in the most disparate ways… Also for 2018 a "monstrous night at the castle" is announced, with a vast choice of workshops, stories, shows of macabre magic and bewitched fires. Among the guests Matteo Arfanotti, face and body painting world champion. Admission: € 0 up to 3 years, € 5 from 4 to 11 years and € 3 between 12 and 99 years old. For information click here.