Thanks so much to those of you who left kind comments on my previous post. It’s immeasurably nice to know there are people in the universe sending good vibes my family’s way. The funeral is next week and I’m hopeful of obtaining some closure (ugh at that word but I can think of none better) and discovering a new ‘normal’ after that.
It’s a cliché to say it but the last thing my Grandad would want would be for any of us to be sad so I’m trying to re-focus my energy on grabbing hold of life and squeezing everything I can from it! That of course includes more travel, which leads me nicely on to the next installment of my Italy travel diary.
Unlike our previous stop you’re likely to have seen Vernazza all over Pinterest. The epitome of picturesque, this Cinque Terre village doesn’t only host a harbour, a beach, and the obligatory multi-coloured houses, there’s also a clifftop castle known as the the Doria – but we’ll get to that.
After hiking from Corniglia we meandered down through the town, enjoying gorgeous views over the rooftops and the bay. We were desperate for a shower and M was pretty keen to lose our bag so first stop was the apartment we’d rented for the night; it was small and basic but well-located on the main street.
Feeling fresher, we went back out to explore. It has to be said, pretty though it is, Vernazza is over-run with a) tourists, and b) crappy shops catering to tourists. I know, but still.
M referred to it as “Italian Disney land” and I’d say that’s apt: it looks as if Pixar have computer-generated a dilapidated old Italian coastal village – in both the good way and the bad.
The pebble beach is only accessible via a path underneath a precarious-looking rock arch. As we picked our way through the sun started to set, the sea breeze picked up, and the chill set in, so we took a couple of snaps and went for a (fantastic) seafood dinner at a restaurant by the harbour. This was of course accompanied by copious amounts of red wine and followed with the obligatory gelato.
The next morning we had apple pie for breakfast. After the previous few hours’ indulgence it was time for more calorie-burning wandering. Like the rest of of the Cinque Terre, Vernazza is a warren of winding, narrow passages that look like they’ve been carved straight out of the rock but it’s actually surprisingly hard to get lost because it’s all so teeny.
Time to explore the castle! The Doria was built in the 15th century as a lookout for pirates. So cool.
It’s basically just a big round stone tower so once you’ve climbed up (and up and up) there isn’t much to do – but the views are stunning, with the beach and open sea on one side and the town and harbour to the other. If i remember rightly, the entrance fee (in 2013) was just 1€.
With Vernazza explored it was time to collect our rucksack and start on the road to Monterosso; we were hiking again, a distance of about 4km.
On the way out of town you encounter a couple of homes irreparably damaged by the storm and resulting landslide that almost destroyed the entire village in October 2011 (you can even see neatly-pressed trousers still hanging in the wardrobe). Luckily, glorious views over the village leave you with a more positive lasting impression as you wave “ciao” to Vernazza.