One of the parts of Italy that I was most looking forward to was Cinque Terra: the ‘five lands’. The area of La Spezia is beautiful! La Spezia itself is a big Naval and industrial trading port so there was a lot of machinery and mining but hidden along the coastline are the five bays stacked with pastel coloured houses with emerald-green shutters.
The five bays are connected by a train line and a coastal path however many of the paths were blocked by fallen rocks so we couldn’t choose that route! Being peak season and the heat of summer, it was PACKED! It made the water seem incredibly inviting as people sun bathed on the rocks, cooled off in the crystal clear water and take a leap of faith off cliff faces. Whenever we could we climbed to the highest point weaving through the narrow paths and staircases between the colourful houses. I highly recommend doing this as the view was stunning and a lovely way to take in your surroundings away from the business of the water’s edge.
In one afternoon we hopped between Vernazza, Manarola and Riomaggiore (leaping onto the train actually, as a split second decision had us squeezing our way between the shutting doors as my dad jammed his shoulders between the doors – taking one for the team there!).
My favourite destination of the three was Riomaggiore where we stayed for dinner and watched the sun set. Riomaggiore was a little bigger than some of the other locations which gave me a chance to explore a little more. I found my way again to a high point as the sun was lowering and the light bounced vibrantly off the roof tops of the houses, many of which acted as balconies and terraces – a hidden getaway. As I made my way back to the waters edge for our dinner I walked through a square where all the kids staying there had gathered on scooters and bikes, with balls and skipping ropes. It was lovely to watch as the heat of the day was carried off by an evening breeze.
As the light changes, so did the colour of the houses. At dusk everything glows in rich colours where as during middle of day the heat of the day washed a lot of the colour out. I’ve said this before but there are not many things in life that make me happier than being by the sea at sunset. Just sitting by yourself and taking in the beauty of this wonderful creation is an extremely peaceful and refreshing experience and I wish I did it more.
The next day, on our way to Milan (our last stop) we stopped by Portovenere, another coastal town in La Spezia. Another beautiful coast.
I definitely recommend going to La Spezia if you are in Italy, but if I was to go again I would avoid the rush of peak season to really enjoy it. And it is amazing what you can do in one day too!