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A Little Bit Of Heaven On Earth

Cinque de Terre wall mural

One of the most beautiful places on Earth
 Monterosso, Italy
Cinque de Terre
 
For spring break 2008 (March), Corrin, two fellow teachers, and I decided to take a week trip to Italyand France.  Our friend, Melissa, used to be a travel agent and suggested we go to the Cinque de Terre for a few days.  She said it was one of the most beautiful places and that we would LOVE it.  We had never heard of this place. 
 Where is it located?
It is part of the Italian Rivera, on the Western side of Italy that connects to France.
 

Why is it called the Cinque de Terre?  It is called this because it is comprised of five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

 
Why is it so wonderful?  It is beautiful, quaint, dramatic, fun, amazing….
 On the Edge, Vernazza, ItalyItaly Cinque Terre 14 1024x768 The Rewards of Walking the Cinque Terre

Describes it the following way

If you ever get tired of life, bypass the therapist and decamp immediately to Cinque Terre. Here five crazily constructed fishing villages, set amid some of the most dramatic coastal scenery on the planet, ought to provide enough to bolster the most jaded of spirits. A Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997, Cinque Terre isn’t the undiscovered Eden it once was but, frankly, who cares? Sinuous paths tempt the antisocial to traverse seemingly impregnable cliffsides, while a 19th-century railway line cut through a series of coastal tunnels ferries the less brave from village to village. Thankfully cars – those most ubiquitous of modern interferences – were banned over a decade ago.”

 
We decided to stay in the village of Monterrosso.  We booked our hotel, the Hotel Villa Steno, because of the views we found online. 
 
We arrived to Monterosso by train.  It is a small village with houses and business built along a cliff with amazing views.  We checked into our hotel and were amazed by how each room had a balcony with incredible views.  There were tons of lemon trees with an abundance of huge lemons all around the hotel and on the balcony.  
We decided that we would go to dinner and wake up early the next morning to do a hike of the five villages.  I was dating Brad at the time and remember calling him to tell him how wonderful this place was.  I made the HUGE mistake of having mussels for dinner that night.

 

Monterosso has beaches! (from the Hotel Villa Steno’s website)

The next morning, I thought I was going to die.  I could not stop throwing up.  I obviously got food poisoning from the mussels.  Corrin didn’t know what to do to help me.  She walked down to the pharmacy and came back with a variety of medicines, crackers, and water.  All of the medicine was in Italian so I had no clue what I was taking.  Corrin had no clue either but she managed to communicate that I was throwing up. 
 
It was one of the worst days because I was in one of the most beautiful places and I felt like I was going to die.  I am so thankful for Corrin going back and forth all day to the pharmacy for me.  She missed out on exploring this area to help me.  We both decided that we would for sure come back with the loves of our lives (Brad and Dave) and our kids so that they could experience this area.
Even though I was sick, I loved Monterosso because of the quaint town and the beautiful scenery.  Somehow it felt as if it we were experiencing the real authentic Italy.  The people were very nice and it did not seem like it was overcome by tourist (as places like Venice can be).  The two girls that we traveled with loved Monterosso so much they decided to stay for a few extra days while Corrin and I traveled to our next place (Chamonix, France) for skiing. 
 
Corrin and I have been fortunate to have traveled to a few places and this is so far one of our top five favorites. 

So my question is this:  Who is ready to travel to the Cinque de Terre?

 Links:
Hotel Villa Steno

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