When entering the Cinque Terre you think you know the beauty you will stumble upon, but somehow when you actually see it you are left stunned. Colorful houses stacked atop each other with swinging linens dangling from the window. Shady lemon trees bursting with fruit all in front of a staggering mountainous terrain that is tiered and manicured with olive groves. Tangled grape vines dot the land baring fruit that will eventually be swirled into a glass, consumed and savored. Crimson red poppies and yellow wildflowers color the landscape as the green mountains jet up to the sky as clouds gently move overhead. The air seduces. Herbaceous lavender and rosemary mingle with creamy jasmine while the salty breezes mesh into the aroma of the towering Italian cypress trees. The coast is rocky, jetting out from the green hills that tumble into the sea while the waves crash carving out the landscape for days to come.
The Cinque Terre was the final stop on our honeymoon. After wandering around France and bits of Italy, we arrived at the Ligurian coast known for its challenging hiking, colorful facades, focacia and pesto. Since we drove from Paris, we had a car that allowed us to easily navigate between the five hilly towns. The Cinque Terre is comprised of Vernazza, Manrola, Riomaggiore, Monterrossa al Mare and Corniglia, all built below the mountain top. Avid hikers trek to the region with their walking sticks to explore the rugged trails which edge the mountains and connect the towns. Unfortunately a few of the trails were completely demolished in a flood in 2011 leaving only a few open to explore. We decided to hike the trail linking Vernazza to Monterossa al Mare, the steepest and hardest climb which takes just under two hours to complete. Towering stair cases made of stones and narrow paths lined by large rock formations meander you along the coastline oftentimes leaving your short of breath because of the intense climb or the views of the turquoise sea. Along the hike we reached an unexpected refreshment stand, an older Italian man selling limoncello and fresh squeezed lemonade from his own lemon harvest. His lemon printed tablecloth held a manual juicer and several bottles of his creations ready to take with you on your journey. It was one of those unexpected moments that you think, this could only happen in Italy. When we arrived at our destination we enjoyed various pasta dishes, Trofie al Pesto (I will be recreating this here very soon) for me and Frutti di Mare for him. This filled us up so much that instead of taking the train back, we decided to hike back to Vernazza, which fueled us so much we beat our arrival time. We got out of Italy exactly what we were seeking - relaxation, exercise, good food (Trattoria Billy has the best food in the area) and moments of solitude. We stayed at a private guest house that was perched right over the sea that allowed us to drink in the air and hear the wildflowers sway in the wind. It was the perfect ending to our honeymoon.