It’s crazy that it’s been almost nine months since the weekend a small group of us traveled together to one of the most magical places on earth. This was one of my favorite weekend trips despite having to cut it short. The weather forecast for the couple weeks leading up to this trip was calling for rain, rain, and more rain. We couldn’t change the dates of our trip so we all just prayed and begged God for beautiful weather and He did not fail to provide. Not only was it sunny, but it was warm. Gorgeous temperatures and the warm sunshine allowed us to watch two spectacular sunsets, jump into the Mediterranean Sea and sunbathe on the rocks.
We ended up going on the last weekend of October and had the WORST time ever trying to get our train reservations (this started a deep seated resentment against Italian trains which hasn’t gone away). However, somehow it all worked out and we made reservations for a night train from Vienna to Cinque Terre (technically, the night train took us to Venice and then several hours/most of the day and three train hops later we were in Cinque Terre).
Night trains in Europe were always an interesting experience and this one was no exception. However, waking up to this view outside our compartment window helped to make the bad sleep, snoring strangers, and constant interruptions a little more worth it.
We made the decision to rent airbnb’s for this trip and I cannot say enough about them! We had eight of us on this trip so four of us lived in one and the other four lived in another one a little ways up the street. In the pictures below, the door on the right was our front door and the steps on the left were the steep steps up to said door. One of the nicest things about having a little apartment was the total privacy and freedom, not to mention it’s a step nicer than hostels since you get a kitchen, private bathroom, and private bedrooms.
We stayed in Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre, and we spent our first evening exploring the streets and rocks down by the water before hiking up to the upper part of the town to watch the sun set over this magical place.
We only had one full day so we made the most of it by getting an early start and taking the 3 or 4 min train ride to the next town, Manarola.
From Manarola it was on to Corniglia. Corniglia is the middle town and set high up on a cliff (the train drops you off at the bottom and you have the option to take a bus up or walk up almost 400 stairs…we chose the stairs). When planning for this we almost decided to skip Corniglia because it doesn’t have a beach and we assumed it would be the most boring of the five towns. However, I’m so glad we decided to go anyway because it ended up being one of our favorites and housed some of our favorite memories of the day. The streets were so beautiful and narrow and we had some of the BEST gelato in all of Italy. But I think my favorite part was sitting on a rock wall on one of the highest parts of the town, looking out at the Mediterranean Sea far below us. For a while we sat there in silence, soaking it all in and then someone turned on praise and worship and it turned into this beautiful praise session right there on what felt a little bit like the top of the world.
The next town, Vernazza, was easily my favorite (and I can probably speak for the rest of our group and say it was the favorite for us all). We started by climbing the narrow streets up to the tower that overlooks the rest of the town. From there we could see the beach that you access through a tunnel underneath the houses right on the main street. The first time we walked down the main street we hadn’t even noticed the tunnel as it sort of blends right in with the town.
Some of our group decided to hike from Vernazza to the last town, Monterrosso, but I decided to ride the train up to Monterrossa with two others and briefly explor it (it was much more touristy and so we didn’t spend much time there) before coming back to Vernazza for the sunset.
Then once the sun set I hiked up a little ways into the hills and vineyards surrounding the town to take some more pictures of Vernazza at dusk.
That night we went back down to the water in Riomaggiore and watched the stars before finally heading to bed to get a few hours of sleep before our very early train home. We were extremely blessed by absolutely beautiful weather. The weather forecast for the couple weeks leading up to our trip were calling for rain, rain and more rain but the Lord blessed us with sunshine and 70-80 degree weather, we were able to sit outside in the sunshine, jump into the water, lay out on the rocks by the beach and thoroughly enjoy this little slice of heaven.