After posting last, we flew out of the country and landed on the coast of Italy. We are lucky to have traveled to the Mediterranean many times. It never gets old. This time we wanted to see the famous Cinque Terre (Five lands). Five larger villages (and several smaller) are tucked into valleys between steep sea cliffs. A hike connects between them, but that seemed like too much work and more time then we had. After reading and planning, we decided the best way to see them was from the sea. So we settled our home base in Porto Venere. Near the Gulf of Poets and the shipping and Naval port of La Spezia, Porto Venere was built in the twelvth century. There is a small but bustling port and a few islands adjacent. The water was clear and the weather delightful.
Our first day we decided to hop on the ferry to Palmaria Island and take the hike around the island. In our experience, most hikes near a touristic area are usually flat terrain aimed at the less atheletically inclined. This was not that hike. We climbed up 600 feet and down, then up again. The views were amazing. But at the end of five miles,we were ready for food and the beach.
The next day, with cappaccino in hand, we met our skipper and his boat that would take us to Cinque Terre. Although there are ferries running between the villages of Cinque Terre, we read enough to know they were huge and crowded. So, we opted for a private tour instead. However, with all our focus on the adoption process, we were a little late booking. Instead of some slick sailboat or speedboat, we had, what looked like, a fishing boat without nets. Our skipper emerged sun baked, with long-ish, white hair, and a smile. We cruised along the coast. Farid even jumped into the water of a secluded cove (good for him :). We saw the beautiful and amazing towns of Cinque Terre. I couldn’t help picturing the Genoan and other sailor of history popping into each village to get supplies, or sell their products. Even today, boats swarmed each of the small ports. The nautical life is alive and well. In fact, didn’t we need a boat? We would debate that later, right now we wanted to enjoy the brightly painted buildings of Cinque Terre.