Italian Honeymoon – Day 2 Hiking Cinque Terre

1.1465592354.view-leaving-vernazzaBreakfast at the Gianni balcony
Assortment of croissants, salami, swiss cheese, cereal, fresh juice, espresso (Café Lungo was great). Perfect amount of sunshine/shade on the patio at 8:30 AM, serene water and amazing views.

Hike from Vernazza to Corniglia
We have never been big hikers, but that’s the main event here so our game plan was to complete 2 novice hikes between Cinque Terre towns (Vernazza to Corniglia and Corniglia to Manarola). We left around 10 AM and had just about perfect weather. The oceanside trail from Vernazza to Corniglia was pretty simple and fun and had some fantastic vistas. We were ahead of schedule for our lunch plans (the place didn’t open until 12:30) so we stopped at the halfway point on the trail where there was a little bar called Bar il Gabbiano that had a ridiculous view from the patio of Corniglia with Manarola behind it in the distance. We had a beer and a vodka lemonade slushy there and chatted with a couple of Americans.

Corngilia
Awesome little town with 2 main walkways that criss cross so you can’t really miss anything. Good window shopping along the main footpath road and a few small family restaurants tucked away as well. We stopped into Ristorante Enoteca Il Pirun, initially drawn in by the WiFi offering, the interior was beautiful faux stone with bottles lining the wall. Owner was just arriving (it was still ~11:30AM) and was very accommodating and nice, didn’t speak much if any English but his likeness was drawn on the ceiling of the establishment and also on the label for the house white wine that we shared (Mario was very excited to express how it was his own production of wine). We really enjoyed the wine and paired it with the misti di mare (assortment of seafood) which Cinque Terre is also known for. This restaurant had the nicest toileting experience we encountered so far in Italy, which may not sound like a big deal – but it was! Highly recommend Ristorante Enoteca Il Pirun. We were given the name of a lunch place (Osteria Mananan) as a must do, but there were no tables by the time we finished our brief stroll around Corniglia after Il Pirun (~1PM). We ended up at Dau Tinola at the main piazza in town. We had the house red wine with pesto pizza. House red was very good and very tart, served in a cool ceramic carafe. Pesto and mozzarella on pizza were good, but the pizza overall wasn’t that great. Good people watching from this spot as you can see the hiking path entrance into town from Vernazza.

Hike from Corgniglia to Volastro then Manarola
We were told by other tourists that the short ocean path was closed so we took this longer route without double checking. Some unforgettable vistas with the first half of the hike winding through vineyards and olive groves, but wow this was long and difficult – 2 hours with a lot of elevation changes and tough footing. Volastro was small and confusing and not on the water, we got turned around a couple of times within this short area. The decline from Volastro to Manarola was less scenic and we were definitely getting worn down by this point. Not sorry we took this route, but wouldn’t choose it again knowing the simple (45 min) coastal path is passable. Really sore calves the next day.

Manarola
Very crowded on a Saturday, many sunbathers and people swimming and jumping off rocks into the water. Lots of elevation changes throughout the town. The Piazza Castello to the south has a great view. Nessun Dorma – bar up on the Cliffside overlooking Manarola, great views of town and water. Good people watching, good assortment of drinks. Iced coffee was really like an iced espresso and was amazing. Amanda had another limoncino spritz (not as good as at Ananasso but refreshing) and Ryan had a birra rossa. We hung out at Nessun Dorma for a couple of hours after booking a dinner reservation. The really loud American music and so-so service were a bit of a downer; they played Wagon Wheel so Ryan wanted to puke. We had been seated right away but a long line backed up at the entrance almost immediately after, wouldn’t recommend waiting if that is the case as there seemed to be alternate enjoyable establishments in town.

 Trattoria dal Billy
High up on the south side of Manarola, we got one of the last remaining reservations (for 7PM) when we arrived at 4PM. The waitress was great here, the best service we had in Cinque Terre. If someone at another table wanted fish they would bring the whole fresh fish to the table to confirm it was what they wanted. Usually the fish was too big. We were one table removed from the window but the view was fantastic. Ideally you would make a reservation really early and get a patio seat. We got the mussels marinara to start… not red sauce at all! It may have been called marinato which means marinated… regardless, it was really tasty. For our meal we split the squid ink pasta with seafood which was incredible. We also had their house red wine which was excellent. Highly recommend this place for the views, food, ambiance and service.

Train back to Vernazza
After dinner we walked down to the water trying to take the ferry home but they stopped around 6pm. We headed to the train station and as we were walking up the train was about to leave so we grabbed a ticket and hopped on… turns out it was the wrong direction so we ended up at the Riomaggio train station. We had to wait around 20-30 minutes for the train back but our friends from dinner the night before were waiting there as well so we had some more good conversation with them.

Ananasso bar
We came back here in the Vernazza piazza and had a campari spritz and a campari/averna cocktail. It was probably almost 10pm at this point. Lots of kids were running around the piazza playing soccer and boxing each other. Vernazza was not a sleepy town but it seemed to be bustling with locals as much as tourists in the late evening.

Gelateria Vernazza
Drunken Ryan went and picked up gelato here and it was far better than the previous night. We had a cheesecake and a peanut butter/Nutella and they were both very good. Day 2 ended similar to day 1 with gelato then melatonin.

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