Unesco has declared the Cinque Terra as a World Heritage Site, and describes it as below.
Cinque Terre is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces, harbors are filled with fishing boats and trattorias turn out seafood specialties along with the Liguria region’s famous sauce, pesto. The Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail links the villages and offers sweeping sea vistas.
The area is indeed breathtaking, to see so many houses built on such steep cliffs, in pretty terracotta hues clustered around a rocky inlet made for many many photos! Our day started with a train trip to Riomaggiore, and then we hopped on and off a few more trains visiting the little towns. One town included a wine tasting at Terra Di Bargob Cantina, where a gorgeous elderly couple explained how they were maintaining the traditional wine growing method of planting vines on narrow terraces cut into the rocky cliffs. Certainly back breaking work! The percentage of terraces being farmed now has dramatically reduced over the past years as ‘the young make their money from tourists – accomodation and food, which is easier than hard work’ according to Roberto and Alessandra. Later in the day we walked up some of the steep cliffs where the grape terraces are, and it seemed almost unbelievable that farmers would commit to such conditions.
On our way back from the farm cooking class at Agriturismo Il Risveglio, we stopped at the workshop of a lovely Italian gentleman who still makes the wooden stamps to create croxetti pasta by hand. With 16 people in our group, we certainly added to the mans income in a sudden rush! Like many Italian trades, the art of making things by hand is a declining art so it was great to support this gentleman’s business in a local hillside town.
A quick stop for a coffee, and a delicious behind the scenes tour of G Copello Paticceria & Confectteria in Chiavari. Just my kind of place…
Today we had a long windy trip through the Vara River Valley into the hamlet of Varese in the Ligurian Hills. It was a very picturesque drive, winding through little villages with houses clustered around a church sitting atop the side of the mountain. There were some very tight hairpin bends, and some villages where the single lane road almost brushed the houses on either side of the road. One village had a home with perhaps a metre between the front door and the safety barrier from a steep curved descent – it seemed that someone in a car was sure to end up in their living room given the precarious location!
The Italian countryside on this drive was quite woody and wild, near the villages or odd farm houses there were often had apple trees bearing fruit along the side of the road. Once we passed Varese the road up to ‘Agriturismo Il Risveglo’ was slow going, steep and heavily wooded, the road completely covered in a canopy by the trees. Our hosts Emanuele & Francesca, had decided to have change of direction five years ago and moved to the country. They restored some old farm buildings and have created a lovely farm overlooking the valley. They showed us through their vegetable greenhouse, where we picked tomatoes and beetroots to be cooked for lunch, and apples for a dessert cake.
Despite their rustic farm house, the kitchen had a serious industrial fit out, and we crowded around to watch and assist them to make lunch. ((Thanks Nellie for the pasta photo)