Saturday 16th June 2018
Today we explored the area by boat.
We had been told, when visiting Monterosso yesterday, about a ferry service that went to four of the Cinque Terre villages and also Porto Venere. The lady at the ticket booking office highly recommended that we visit Porto Venere and do the three islands tour.
Phil was keen to give this a go as he loves being on the water. I thought we’d be able to get good photos of the villages as the ferry pulled into each village as well. We had also planned to explore Riomaggio today too and figured we would just get off the ferry and explore there, before returning back to Vernazza.
We bought our two tickets for the day including the three islands tour, which were 76 Euro for both of us. It was so nice being out on the ferry, although there wasn’t much swell at all. Of course, Phil wanted to sit up top in the open air, so up we went. As we left Vernazza, we could see just how beautiful it is. We went past Corniglia and this was the first time we had seen this village due to it being high on the top of the mountain. It looked so pretty, yet doesn’t have the coastline of the other 4 towns.
The next place we stopped at was Manarola, where we had been yesterday. All of these villages were so pretty seeing them from the sea. We pulled into Riomaggiore (where Ryan had taken his amazing photo from back in February), and were glad we had decided to explore this town later today. We pulled away from Riomaggiore and headed for Portovenere. It was 25 minutes along the coast from the Cinque Terre. As we were coming along the coast we saw the different colours in the rocks of the coastline – sometimes red, sometimes blue, sometimes the yellow of sandstone.
As we came to a headland we could see some old buildings and thought that they looked pretty. They were at Portovenere. This place is so beautiful. We then realised that the coast further down was an island and as we rounded the headland we could see all of these Italian towns bordering the water. It was a very busy channel with lots of pleasure craft out enjoying this magnificent day in the sunshine on the beautiful Mediterranean waters.
We pulled into the port and immediately got on the Three Islands tour. This tour went around the three islands just sitting off the coast of Portovenere. It was picturesque and a beautiful day to be on the water.
We got back to Portovenere and set out to explore the town. First stop was to pick up some food and drink. We got some takeaway focaccia pizzas and some Coke Zeros. This focaccia pizza was so yummy. Not only did I take a photo of the one that I had, but also the other ones in the shop window.
After this short pit stop, we set out to explore the town. As we headed into the square we saw this entrance to an alley way with many people. We looked at the entrance and realised that it was built in 1114! Wow! As we looked up we were amazed by how pretty it was. It was obviously still in use now with restaurants, shops and people living in the area. It was just superb. We wandered through the alley way which led us to the castle and tower that we had seen whilst entering the headland. We took a moment to stop and look around at the view overlooking Portovenere. It was breathtaking! I will always remember this!
We looked over into Byron’s Grotto named after the English poet, Lord Byron who lived in this area and was inspired by the area. I was keen to explore this area and clambered down – there were stairs. The water, once again, is so clear and beautiful. You can see all the way to the bottom. It looked amazing! Once we had ventured into there, we then headed up to the castle and the tower. This was amazing with views over the town and the city of La Spezia as well as down the coast towards the Cinque Terre. As we were descending the castle to walk along the coastline, we saw some amazing boats including an absolutely jaw dropping super boat – clearly owned by some very wealthy people (Phil called it the billionaire’s boat), rather than the mere millionaire’s boats which there were a few. We also saw some fancy tinnies too, some old fashioned rowboats along with lots of sailing boat.
We went exploring a little more and had decided, seeing as how Portovenere was SO beautiful that we would go back to Monterosso, so we could do the whole trip on the boat and then catch the last boat back to Riomaggiore to explore, in the late afternoon sun – of course to get the best photos! We could then catch the 8:20 or 9:20 train back to Vernazza.
We got the 2:50pm boat back to Monterosso and enjoyed the sunshine and gentle breezes. Of course we took more photos of the villages as we approached and left them. There were lots of boats out and people on jet skis enjoying this amazing day. We both love the feel of being on the sea with the spray splashing us and the wind blowing through our hair.
We arrived in Monterosso and headed back to the square. We both wanted a drink, so stopped at a bar. Phil had a beer and I had a glass of Prosecco. We were a little hungry, so we opted to order a banana split. Oh My Goodness!!!! This banana split was the best one I’ve ever had in my life, even better than the ones at the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour! (Yes Chris – it was that good!). We savoured every mouthful. We had decided to share it, luckily cause I would’ve eaten a whole one by myself. It was so good. Luckily we had this on the last day, otherwise we would have had to come back here again! We then wandered through the town and bought our tea towel souvenir.
We headed back to the ferry terminal at the harbour and got on the last boat at 5:40 pm. Bliss! The afternoon sun on all of the villages just made them that little bit more special. We had a great time taking photos and just relaxing and enjoying these moments.
We got off in Riomaggiore and took some photos as we headed into the old town. We enjoyed exploring this town. We headed up the hill to find somewhere to have dinner. We decided to have a meal at this restaurant further up the hill. Phil had a beer and I had a glass of Prosecco. Phil had this octopus and potato thing for entree, which I was not keen on at all. Phil had spaghetti bolognaise and I had lasagne for our main meals. The lasagne was delicious and Phil also enjoyed his spaghetti.
After our lovely dinner, we headed down to the water again. Luckily, we noticed a tunnel (which we hadn’t noticed when looking around earlier) heading to the train station – we thought it was further up the hill. We went down to the harbour and were rewarded with gorgeous late afternoon sunlight.
We decided to catch the earlier train back to Vernazza. Phil got his gelato from our favourite gelato shop in the town (and it’s also open late so that we get them when we are back from the other villages). We headed down to the harbour for our final evening in the Cinque Terre. It truly is so beautiful. There was a wedding that had taken over one of the restaurants with signing and dancing in the square. It would be an exquisite venue. This area is just stunning and we are so glad we had the opportunity to spend some time here.
We will definitely miss this amazingly beautiful place, but not so much all the stairs. We walked over 7km today and 33 flights of stairs. The perfect end to our time on the Ligurian coast and the Cinque Terre! Off to Florence tomorrow!