Sufficiently full, we stop at a fruit stand to ask where the trail to Volastra starts, and are pointed toward the church, whose bells had been marking the time for us at the hostel every night until 11. I hadn't been back this way since walking into the town on the hike the first day, and everything looked different and new again. The church was lovely, too.
|Let's go alreadddyy!|
|Manarola in the distance|
|Corniglia behind us|
|contemplating the edge of the world|
As we passed through the last section of the "town", I happened to look over a at a little empty spot near the grape vines, and I saw this:
In any case, it was very exciting, and Noah had to physically pull me away from the fence to keep me from stealing all the beautiful kale.
Very soon after, we made it to Volastra. The trail opens up into a small square, and a quaint and unassuming little church sits at the far end of it. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside it was so beautiful. There was no one inside, and I walked in and sat in a pew in the front row and watched the candles burning down for a while. It was quiet except for one of those giant Italian flies that had been pestering us the whole hike. It buzzed lazily along the floor, and I watched it for a while, enjoying the cool wood beneath me and the echoing quiet of the church.
He ran down most of the stairs - hundreds of them, that, coming form Manarola, one would have to walk up - as the trail petered out and opened up onto the road, heading toward the parking area in Manarola. We had made it!
|Super grumpy after the wasp escapade.|
We killed some time in Manarola, grabbed some water and wandered some shops for souvenirs for friends back home, and then hopped on the train for Monterosso. I was in serious need of some ocean time.
I remembered that Jenni had told us there was a whole second section of Monterosso (the less populated side) found on the opposite side of a pedestrian tunnel, across the beach from where we'd been the day before. This was the charming side of the little town.
We walked up through the tunnel, having rented a beach towel from the hostel this time, and I laid out for a bit and swam for hours. It was so lovely. The water was cool and calm, just as before, and although there were beaucoup des children, still very relaxing, and just what I needed after the hike. I stood on the loose rocks of the bottom in tree pose and tried to balance against the small waves.
Noah had wandered off while I played in the water, and as the sun started causing shadows to creep up the beach over my towel, we decided to explore. There was a long walk up the side of the cliff that started the trail toward Vernazza, so I wanted to see how far up it we could go.
This place was just idyllic. The water sparkled, the people were gorgeous, and everything was bright and summery and perfect.
|My sister saw hearts everywhere, I saw 13s.|
|Such a climb to get down there!|
|I love that his friend threw his arms out too, as the jumper started off the cliff.|
There was another entire section of town we hadn't yet seen, and we wandered into the endless maze of Monterosso. It was so much bigger than I'd thought! I picked a residential alleyway, which eventually meandered back into the shops and restaurants. I found a dress I wanted but didn't want to spend 40 euros on, and Noah found gelato he wanted and did want to spend 3 euros on. Monterosso was lovely, and I was starving, but we had to leave and head to the train station to get to Vernazza in time for the sunset. There was so much more of the town I didn't get to explore! There was a whole old section and a cemetery, but the train was waiting. It just means I have to go back. Soon.
Somehow, we got on the wrong train, going in the completely wrong direction, instead of back toward Vernazza. We ended up in Levanto, which is another 5Terre base (like La Spezia, but it comes more highly recommended). A handful of other people had made our same mistake, and we all conferred as we hopped off the train just in time to watch the next return train leaving. Another one was coming, but all of us being unsure as to whether or not it would actually stop in Vernazza, we opted to wait (with Kinder candy) for the next 5Terre train. While we were sitting there, this awful, ridiculous song came on (this one). As soon as it started up it caught my attention (I had been tuning out everything except the constant Attenzione! announcements about train delays), in a "what the hell is this and why is it happening" kind of way. Having been seriously irritated about the trains and being further delayed, this awful song made me laugh and kind of made everything better in the weird way. It will forever make me think of Levanto, now.
Arriving in Vernazza, there was a bit of a debate - food or sunset? The little harbor wasn't too crowded, and so we wandered in search of food for a while before deciding we should probably settle down and watch the sunset, or we'd very likely miss it. There was a spot where we'd gotten off the boat that first day in 5Terre, where the rocks were warped and lifted and right close to the sea, that I decided would be perfect for sunset watching. I wasn't wrong.
|At some point I realized I had this whole weird series of pictures of my feet in different places. I have pictures just like this in every country and I didn't even realize I was doing it. Weird.|
|What I'd always imagined, imagining Italy.|
|Everyone had pizza and wine and other sunset watching snacks. It was lovely.|
We spent a good amount of time wandering and debating over food, finally settling on a lasagna and a focaccia (god, I ate so much focaccia), and a monster sized beer to bring back and eat on the edge of Corniglia. The train took forever (it had been late all freaking day), and we lazed around the station in the near dark, listening to the announcements over and over again (Attenzione!).
We walked the quiet street of Corniglia, past the main square, and a ton of cats, to the edge of the city, the edge of the cliff, where that church stood in that book I read so many years ago. We sat and ate our dinner and eavesdropped on the conversations of the handful of other people here, drinking wine and talking about where they'd been, where they were going. In the morning we were leaving 5Terre. I just wanted to stay here forever.
To be continued.