Friday, October 12, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wherefore art thou Romeo?

After only a couple hours I had found the perfect sunset location, I'd sorted out my food for the next days' hike, grabbed a Birra Moretti and hit the stairs. Reminiscent of a few days earlier, I arrived at the top of the path overlooking Riomaggiore sweaty from the dense humidity and my heart racing from the unrelenting steps. Local ladies chatted, old men walked dogs and I sipped, ok skulled (just a little!), my icy cold beer, enjoying the view as the sun slowly sank into the now clear sky.

As I made my journey from Torino early that morning it was grey, drizzling and grim, it was the Northern Italy weather from the day before but more surly and inhospitable. Upon arrival to Cinque Terre, it appeared vapid instead of the picturesque vision I was expecting, but thankfully after a couple of thunderstorms the worst of it had passed.

Despite the preceding dreary day in Torino my weekend had been nothing but sensational. When I told Manuel I would visit; knowing my affinity for hiking, he informed me we were headed on a day trip, to the edge of the Dolomites, to climb a mountain. I guess I didn't quite take our proposed excursion as seriously as I should of, being Manuel's first hiking foray I assumed it would be, lets say, 'a walk in the park', so to speak. As we exited the train, after an hour and a half of me completely pulverising Manuel and 'Shithead' it was time for the slopes of Tre Croci to enslave me. The hike to the top of Tre Croci was  in fact a climb, not a technical one but a series of steep ruthless switchbacks leading to an incredible view of the surrounding pistes which writhed across the mountain sides.

After binging on every kind of Italian delight and a well deserved nap we made our way back down through an autumn forest, all around us were dazzling shades of amber tinged leaves suffused in the afternoon sun. Upon our arrival back in Torino we mustered just enough energy to pick up a pizza and a bottle of red before calling it a night. 

Often I am astounded by the abilities of the human body, how we can end a day so utterly depleted, sleep and then wake up the following day ready to go again. Day 2 of my Torino visit brought city sights, a Peruvian lunch layover, mouthwatering organic gelato, Italian lessons from a native Spanish speaker, followed by an evening of wine, pasta and charming Colombian company.

I woke early the next morning, eager for a day of hiking, the trailhead began high above the village of Riomaggiore and crawled even higher around the ridge line overlooking the surrounding azure waters. I stopped frequently to admire the view, to pick the juiciest blackberries which were always just out of reach and to take pictures of pretty wildflowers blooming through a previously charred landscape. My chosen trail took me into the mist filled mountains and stretched from one end of the Cinque Terre region to the other. I had left the Keen™ wearing, iPad carrying masses of tourists behind, my company for the day was a wild boar and a plethora of lizards; whose favourite pass time, akin to my own; baking slowly and steadily in the warm afternoon sun.

Many hours later the trail wound down to the chapel of Madonna di Soviore, its painted ceiling and chandeliers glistened in the glow of candles and at the perfect moment the sun shone into the chapels' garden and far into the valley below; illuminating my final destination, the village of Monterosso. I sat for a long time, ate my lunch, enjoyed the view and the sensation of tired legs.

I was looking forward to tackling the coastal walks the next day and exploring each of the villages along the way, so it was disheartening to learn that the entire coastal trail had been closed due to a landslide in one section and the risk of others due to the rainy weather. Despite the bleak veil hanging overhead I was determined to tackle the crowds and wander the villages, they were all charming, each with their own churches, mini castles, cobbled narrow streets, harbours, beaches and brightly coloured umbrellas. 

I had come for the hiking, so, the next morning, my last morning, I wasn't about to let grey skies and the "chance" of rain undermine my plans. I was up early and ready to obliterate the back trails between Riomaggiore and Corniglia, and much to my elation there were large patches of blue smeared above drenching me in morning rays. The trail weaved through mountain side fields of vegetables and vineyards, producing picture perfect views of the villages below. I powered past tourists, down into Corniglia for a well deserved lunch of pasta and beer before boarding my afternoon train back to Torino.

As the train spiralled through the countryside and the sands in my 'Italy Round 4' hourglass slid away, my thirst for all things Italian had hardly been satiated, the opposite in fact, I foresee many more Italian adventures to come.....

For now however, Bitchface awaits. A reunion with one of the besties, my Geordie pal but still Middle East dweller; Phil. Watch out Prague, we're a coming!

The famous leaning tower - Pisa

A mountain climb anyone?

Autumn colours
Pistes all over the mountain
A view from the top 
Some Colombian guy ;)
Amazing views
Switchback after switchback 
The colours were amazing 
Cinque Terre sunset
Another Italian Church! 
Madonna di Soviore 
Views views everywhere
Nature reclaiming the burnt earth
The trails were full of gorgeous wildflowers
Me...among the mist 
My lunchtime view
Sunshine across the Italian coastline

Such beautiful churches
Village views
My hiking companions
Finally its sunny and picturesque 
Its hard to hike with views like this
Vineyards and Vegetables
The village of Corniglia
Well deserved Gelato pitstop 
Sunset waters
Trail side beauty 
An eerie but beautiful cemetery perched high atop a hill
Agave it all its glory
Dreary days look better with Instagram!
Someone I met on the trail