Thursday, October 8, 2009

travels thus far: stop # 3 Cinque Terre in Liguria

My last stop before arriving in Rome was Cinque Terre in the province of Liguria. I stayed in a hostel in Bressia which as a 15 minutes bus ride from the first village of the Cinque Terre National Park. I started early in morning from the first village called Riomaggiore and finished in Monterosso the fifth village. Riomaggiore was very beautiful because all the houses just crept right to the sea and the steep cliffs just shot upward covered with green olive trees and vineyards. I was amazed at how the people here are able to work so high up and at such steep angles. The first beautiful path that lay before me from Riomaggiore to the second village of Manarola was called "Ville dell'Amore" or walk of love. The path curves around the cliffs with nothing but the sea below you and the vienyards and olive trees above you. There was a beautiful sea breeze in the morning and only a few other hikers on the path which made it even more spectacular. I love looking out to the sea and not being able to see what is beyond. It stirs my passion for adventure and my desire to sail away into the unknown and explore some far off land. I tried to write some poetry in this beautiful place but I'm not so good at rhyming and it never sounds as good as it did in my head. From Manarola I hiked to Corniglia which had a long flight of stairs which was a killer since it was beginning to get really hot outside, I would say about 29 degrees. Then from Corniglia I hiked to Vernazza. This area of the trail was through the trees and I even came across an Italian farmer with sticks on his back passing by. Some areas of the forest were burnt from fires and the smell was of the trees and the smell of burnt wood. When I arrived in Vernazza it was around 1pm and the heat of the day was definitely draining me especially with the lack of shade. I had the best foccacia bread I have ever tasted along with prosciutto ham which is everywhere in Italy. It was a pity I forgot my bathing suit because it would have been so refreshing to take a dip in the blue Ligurian Sea. I then continued on towards my goal which was to reach Monterosso. The hikes really aren't very difficult except for a few uphill parts here and there. By the time I reached Monterosso the sun was getting even hotter and I decided I was going to swim despite the lack of a proper bathing suit. So, I found a nice rocky beach away from the crowded sandy beach and jumped in with my sport bra and underwear! It was well worth it after sweating all day in the hot sun! I think this was a highlight of the trip. The following day I took one of the trains back to Monterosso with my swim suit and had a proper swim at the sandy beach which boasted in its magnificent views of the cliffs and Mediterranean cliffs. I appreciated every part of this day in the Sea because I knew I wouldn't be swimming in the Sea or lying on the beach for a year. It was magnificent! If you ever have the chance to go to Cinque Terre I recommend it; it really is beautiful and the hikes are very relaxing, breathtaking and inspiring. Although, Lake O'Hara is still number one for breathtaking places I have been to.
I then travelled back to Silvano's place in Florence where I spent my last night before heading to Rome. Silvano's mom prayed a beautiful Italian blessing over me and wrote down the scripture verses she prayed for me (Psalm 65/66, and Philippians 4:4-7, "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again:Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anytihng, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.") This passage in particular helped me on my way to Rome because I was slightly anxious about what would be before me as I reached my destination and met the people whom I would be spending a lot of time with. Thank you to Julianna for sharing this with me.

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