Five lands

10 03 2013

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The Port at Portovenere

Cinqueterre – five lands – is part of the Italian Riviera. I had planned to walk the coastline – a somewhat ambitious project at the best of times given my current fitness level, however upon arriving and realising that the walking trail was more suitable for mountain goats, I was very glad for the hop-on-hop-off water taxi that visited four of the five towns. (A month before I visited a couple of Australian tourists had been badly injured in a landslide and the walking trails were closed anyway. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!)

The towns are arranged around harbours at the base of steep hillsides and cliffs. Apparently it is a great area for seafood, which can surely be the only reason why their intrepid ancestors decided to settle in such an inhospitable environment. While the sun shines, it is gorgeous. The footpaths in the towns are very steep, full of staircases and with little motorised transport. Some of the houses set on the cliffs certainly look too steep to possibly have motorised transport to their door. And you wouldn’t want to sleepwalk – you might fall off a cliff! The steep terrain also causes periodic flooding (see here andhere) which send walls of mud down the hillside and through the towns. There is however a train line cut into the side of the hill, and roads can be seen at the top of the hills. And the walking path, when it is open.

Here are some of the best of the Cinqueterre photos.

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Portovenere

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Still a working port for local fisheries

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View from our balcony, Monterosso

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church at portovener
The stripy church that overlooks the entrance to the harbour at Portovenere reflects the stripy cliff-faces in the area.

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5 responses

10 03 2013
Christa

I think you’re right, their ancestors were mountain goats! Is it my imagination or do the buildings lean somewhat in different directions? I felt a little dizzy just looking at them 🙂

10 03 2013
Mudmap

yes they do – and the uprights are also not upright, they lean back into the building, probably for stability. Ah the joys of building without a building code! Obviously seafront was always highly desirable from the tall thin buildings that line the harbours.

10 03 2013
Christa

The flooding in your attached videos is the stuff of nightmares, the scale and power of the mud and water is truly horrifying. I remember seeing it on the news and wondering how they will ever recover. Will they rebuild Monterosso or has it become a ghost town?

10 03 2013
Mudmap

The photo in the link (the water over the railway bridge), some of the photos of the laneways and the photo of the tourist shops taken from above are all at Monterosso. That is where we stayed. Several places in a few of the towns had photos of what they looked like after the floods to show how much they had changed. They live on tourism so they needed to get it fixed and open quickly, but it is amazing!

11 03 2013
Debra Kolkka

Portovenere is not really one of the Cinque Terre. I think it is one of the most beautiful towns along the coast. I also agree that the best way to see this area is by sea. The track is narrow and dangerous and very crowded a lot of the time.

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