It doesn’t feel like you are in Italy till you see three-wheeled vehicles and vespas. Clusters of older gentlemen sat on chairs outside, chatting to each other passing the day away. Italians greet each other with Buongiorno, with an upbeat accent to it. The apartment buildings line the hillsides. Whole towns looking down over the valleys below, fitting into every part of existence. Olive groves slotted in between. The beaches here are so far clear and spotless, no plastic for us to pick up. We have seen a few african immigrants here. Either standing outside supermarkets with a cap, asking the older ladies as they come out. Or loitering on the beach trying to sell of their knock off bags. The smell of seafood, divine and pizzerias everywhere. I have found food here cheap in the markets and in IN’s supermarket. Fuel is cheapest in Enercoop at under €1.50 a litre for diesel. Tolls are cheap and save the windy hairpin bends, you have to climb up and down. Italians love their dogs, they are everywhere. Signs saying you are obliged to pick up after them. Now, the bit you have been waiting for the Cinque Terre.
Yesterday we woke early and headed off to the Cinque Terre. We wanted to get there early as the aire we wanted to stay on was known to be busy. Arriving at about 9.30 it was packed. The lady not sure if she would have a vacancy that day. We asked if we could get water and dump our toilet. She said fine and sent both us and a german camper down the road to Monterossa al Mare, the first of the Cinque Terre towns. Telling us there was a car park down there. She had said to call her later, so we set off. The roads a little scary as sometimes they were only wide enough for us. Right on the beach the parking €25 for 24 hours was the same as the aire, just minus the electric. Campers only allowed after 15 Sept, there was about 8 of us last night. In a way it worked out better. As we did part of the walk yesterday. We took section two and walked the 3.5 hours to the second town of Vernazza with the dogs. A cost of €15 for both of us. The track not as busy as summer. As we left Monterossa, you pass a pianist, classic music adding to the romantic vibe. As you head up steep staircases and goat tracks. High up in the vineyards and farmlands, amazing slate stone walls and arched bridges. Drenched in sweat as the day heated up we were filthy from the dry earth by the time we arrived. You also pass and accordion player and saxophonist. The sound of music makes you smile as you look down at the beautiful village below. Coloured buildings and gorgeous ocean, everything you see in the pictures. We stopped and had a look around, buying drinks to hydrate, the dogs gutted they couldn’t swim. The section between Manarola and Riomaggiore closed due to a landslide. We decided to head to a free car park above both the next day, to be able to see them. Exhausted after the walk, we crashed out with the sound of the ocean lapping the shore and rock faces. Today we left early, mainly to avoid meeting anyone on the narrow winding ascent up from Monterossa. Arriving at the free carpark, no one else there. A local was getting stuff out of his shed, so I asked if we could stay. To which he said yes. Ten minutes later a truck pulls in, the guy staring at us open-mouthed. He didn’t speak english but managed to say, “helicopter landing here now”. I think it was arriving to pick up the fruit from the vines as its picking season. No wonder he just about had a heart attack seeing us. With nowhere else to park, we drove to La Spezia. Tomorrow we are going to try to catch a bus and then train to Manarola and Riomaggiore, to see the last two towns. Our only option if we want to visit them now. So today is a recovery day and with electric, charging everything for the week. Its been a bit of an adventure already.