Monterosso, Cinque Terre

Continued from Starting in Milan

Heading to Monterosso the only hitch we knew we had to deal with was a misbooking that seperated Robin & I by a train-room/section. Robin had practiced much the night before saying “Please excuse me may I sit next to my husband.” Of course when the moment came it was a bit more confusing than that but the woman we displaced was very agreeable to the switch. It took a bit more explaining to the conductor but our gracious passenge-mates helped with the translations.

Getting off the train in Monterosso we were greeted to humidity and heat. We knew basically where we were going and made a bee line to the Hotel Cinque Terre. It reminded me of an island hotel. I looked for the little guy who would say “The Plane The Plane”, but all I found was the nice elderly lady at the counter. We were escorted to our room on the third floor. The room was without air conditioning but with large doors opening to the outdoors and a fan. Sea breezes and cool nights would keep us content even if we fought with a few neighborhood dogs barking or the sound of a moped or two. The trains that ran sounded like waterfalls, but they stop at midnight so that doesn’t last too long.

We found our first dinner restaurant named Tortuga high on a Monterosso cliff face. They treated us to a seafood risotto, swordfish in a capers butter sauce, and a tiramisu, all very good. The risotto had a firmer texture than I was normal to and would like to try something akin to it at home.

The next day we took the regional boat to Riomaggiore where we walked the “Via della’ Amore”, Street of Love. You have to pay to walk this little section as it is the most popular. It is a nice walk situated right on the sea that anyone should be able to complete. The walk put us in Manarola which we then scouted for a suggested restaurant, _Trattoria Billy_. We were about to give up finding it since it was far from the tourist area and near the entrance to the town. We were very glad to find it however as we had a primi of pasta al Billy, a fried seafood (calamari/squid) plate, and whole grilled fish sided with grilled eggplant in balsamic. Very very good. We topped ourselves off with _un caffe_ and then walked back to the train station, delighted to have visited Billy.

We had thought to stop in Vernazza; instead we decided to go there for dinner since we had another suggestion for _Ristorante Gambero Rosso_. When we made our way back out that evening the restaurant was not a disappointment. The staff was friendly, fun, and lively. The outdoor tables were huddled together and we had a nice conversation with a couple from la Spezia. The woman had never visited Cinque Terre in 30 years. As the night drew on they had to hurry out as they were in sun/water wear and had to ride home on a scooter. We had a great meal here consisting of home made pasta & pesto, stuffed mussels, grilled tuna & another fish we just couldn’t put a name to. For dessert the house had a “Dolce della Casa” which we had to order. It had a great sampling of a flan like lemon custard, soft strawberry mousse, an almond cake, and another spice-like cake. We were then treated by our happy waiter introduced us to a local dessert wine that sounded like “Shakatora”. This was a great night but we learned one of our final train lessons. Make sure you know when you can get home as we had to wait an hour and a half for the last train to pick us up to go back to Monterosso.

Cinque Terre is a beautiful set of locations. It is commonly described as a place that is a “fishing village”. With the amount of tourism, and Italian vacationers, the place was all a bustle and seemed very far away from a quiet rural spot. Highly recommend it but bring some cash because the food costs get pretty high.

Next on our stops, Florence, Part 1 of 2