June 19, 2010

Italian Inspiration: The Cinque Terre

I have been crazy busy at work lately, and the weather has been less than cooperative, so the house projects are slow going. We have some big plans for our home in the very near future, but until then, I thought I would share a little more inspiration from our recent travels. 

The Cinque Terre, on the Italian Riviera coast, is the unreal, can't-be-imitated, hard-to-find combination of lush green rolling hills, stone terraced vineyards, craggy rugged cliffs, bluest-of-blue water, ancient hill towns, smiling, siesta-loving locals, and fresh off the vine lemons the size of grapefruit. 

The five towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 and for good reason. Each tiny town is full of wonder: colorful houses built into the steep hillsides, cobblestone streets zig-zagging past old dry-stack stone walls, farmers plucking sun-ripened grapes, olives, and bright green basil straight from the vine, the air filled with the aroma of fresh made pesto mingled with salted sea air. 

A hiking trail connects the five cities and winds it's way along the oceans edge, providing the hiker with breath-taking views of a landscape that has changed little in over five hundred years. The Cinque Terre stays with you long after you leave, and seems like merely a dream when you have gone.  Next time, we'll wise up and put it last on the agenda because to be honest, after the spectacular beauty found here, everything else just seems bland. (Sorry Florence, we know you are a great city with amazing sites of your own, but you just can't compete with the likes of the Cinque Terre. It really wasn't our fault that your Duomo, with the marble-covered facade, left us cold. Blame it on the Cinque Terre!) 


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