Our first morning, we experienced the b+b breakfast. It was very European- lots of cakes and breads which, because of my Celiac disease, I wasn’t too excited about. I was glad, once again, that I had my food bag. The proprietor did, however, have a wonderful selection of homemade jams and marmalades. My favorites were the kiwi and pear jams and the orange marmalade. The coffee, of course, was phenomenal. I’ve never considered myself a serious coffee drinker but throughout the trip I took almost every opportunity to snag a cup before 12PM, as not to interfere with my sleeping patters.
We left the b+b and drove the Monterosso, one of the towns in the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre is portion of coast on the Italian Riviera in Liguria. We poked around Monterosso a bit and then hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza. The hike was quite scenic along the coast- we could see the water the whole time and there was a nice breeze which was much appreciated. When we got to Vernazza, we stepped off the trail pretty much into the main town area where we did some reading and took a quick dip in the ocean.
Here, we had lunch at a great little outdoor restaurant! I had stuffed mussels, which basically entailed the mussels being steamed, cut open, stuffed with a spicy mortadella mixture and then being closed up again. Then, the stuffed mussels were mixed with a well season tomato broth. Yum! My friend had an awesome seafood salad with, among other things, a hulking octopus tentacle which was cooked perfectly and still tender.
From Vernazza, we hiked again to Corniglia. This hike was a little more tame but still incredibly scenic. In Corniglia, we bought some fresh fruit, including some of the best fresh figs we had on the trip (more about figs to come though.) In Corniglia, we walked through town to the train station which was down what looked like hundreds of stairs. Glad we were going down! We hopped on the train (without tickets, shhh!) for one stop so that we could catch the ferry back to Monterosso. We were all feeling and probably looking a little gross at this point, so it was nice to take in the view and some fresh air from the top deck of the ferry.
Once back in Monterosso, we piled into the Panda for the drive back to Genoa. If you ever go to the Cinque Terre, I would suggest doing as little driving between towns as possible. The roads are incredibly narrow, winding and steep. I’m glad I wasn’t driving. Genoa is a small town in northern Italy. There isn’t a ton going on there, and there was definitely a noticeable level of social unrest (a lot of graffiti on government buildings also.) However, we really enjoyed our time here. In Genoa, we stayed at the Grand Hotel Savoia. Probably the nicest place we stayed on the whole trip and the nicest hotel in Genoa.
We checked in, drank a lot of complementary water and showered. We were pretty gross from the day’s hiking. After donning a pair of the hotel slippers and checking my email over the wifi, all 5 of us ventured out for a late dinner at a nearby restaurant. My friend and I shared some chickpea flour fries which were great- a hearty texture and well salted. They were served with a garlicky mayo sauce and were pretty addictive. Then, I had a warm salad with steamed green beans, roasted potatoes, tuna, boiled egg and tomatoes. It was great.