When in Rome we had really windy weather and rain so much so that the lovely campground lady said, “Stay the night free of charge – it’s too dangerous out there tonight”. So that’s what we did leaving early the next morning which was a wise choice. The traffic out of Rome was horrendous in the rain but mostly the drive to Cinque Terre was uneventful.
Doug and I discussed our feelings on Italy on the drive and came to this conclusion. Some of our favorite places are in Italy – Venice, The Dolomites, Rome inside the gates, and Tuscany however outside of those dots, the lines that join the dots, aren’t that great. It’s also a country we have been very mindful in due to thefts and break ins of motorhomes being common place, which has spoilt our travelling routine a bit. Having said that – the dots have been mindblowing.
So we arrive in Bonassola, a little, coastal village just out of The Cinque Terre region, and we are astounded by the waves that are “sucking backwards and then pounding forwards” to break over the town’s rock wall. We think wow what a spectacular coastline and watch fascinated as the waves repeat the same movements over and over again.
Later in the evening, we took a walk to Levante, a neighboring town, through the old, abandoned railway tunnel along the coast and catch our first glimpse of the storms real devastation. Boats broken up on the wharf, kayaks thrown on top of the boats and debris everywhere over the beach. It’s quite a sight. Still we wander around the town thinking, “Gee must have been quite a storm”, before walking back to our motorhome to plan our hike through the 5 Cinque Terre towns the next day.
Still the penny never drops as we watch the waves crash to shore in the same sucking out, crashing forward kind of motion and we head off to sleep 20 metres from the shoreline.
Next morning we get up early and head to the train station to catch the train to Riommagiore where we plan to start our walk but the train is delayed by an hour so we walk through to Levante again to catch it from there, firstly stopping for a coffee. So I’m sitting there waiting for my coffee when I happen to glance at the Italian Newspaper in front of me and the word “Tsunami” jumps out at me.
No wonder the waves were sucking in and out!#$@!
Finally the train arrives, apparently the hiking tracks are closed which is a real shame because if I’d known that, I’d have worn my floaty dress instead, ready for my Instagram shot in Riommagiore. Yeah right!
So the history behind these 5 towns of Cinque Terre is that they are fishing villages, clinging to the side of the coast. Gorgeous fishing villages mind you with colourful houses lining the hillside all linked together with the steepest of steps, and all with terraced backyards and backyard orchards and vege gardens. Crazy.
Back in the 1545 a pirate flotilla led by the infamous Draghut came ashore and looted and burnt much of the towns in the Cinque Terre, capturing the locals for ransom. However the last two towns of Manarola and Riommagiore banded together to stop him and were saved from being burnt to the ground. From there, Draghut moved further up the coast to La Spezia where he awaited his ransom.
If you look back along the coast it’s easy to marvel at how theses towns cling to life at the foot of the cliffs and at the mercy of the sea.
After Riommagiore we caught the train back to Monterosa, skipping the towns inbetween due to the bad weather and erratic train schedule, however Monterosa was charming, if a little battered after the storm. The clean up was definitely on with shops squeezing the sea water and shovelling sand from their depths.
We stopped for a bite to eat at this charming, real Italian restaurant with the red and white chequered table cloths and bottles of red wine hanging from every available space. After some serious food envy of the neighbours pasta, we opted for the same however being on a budget meant we had to share. Totally worth it though.
So it was a fabulous, if wet day and we headed back to our seaside home around 4pm. As it was raining we hummed and haaahed over driving on just because we need to get to France. Well we upped sticks and moved on. Big mistake.
The trouble was it’s quite a narrow, steep coastline so quite hard to find suitable parking for a large motorhome. Campervans have the luxury of squeezing into a normal carpark but not us.
Well – the airport was threatened several times on this occasion before we finally, close to midnight, found a spot close to the French Border but next to a rock wall with pounding waves on the other side. Added to that, heavy rain, and not a lot of sleep was had. This is the view from our bedroom window.
We both feel slightly travel weary after long days in Rome and Venice and lots of driving inbetween and are longing just to find a little French town with a lovely quiet place to park and eat homemade food and cheese.