Made it to 4 of the 5 again today - Riomaggiore, Manarola and Vernazza again and Monterosso for the first time. Awful night - woman above me got into bed at a bout 2.15, don't know where she was, supposedly there's a midnight "curfew", woke me up, and then snored solidly so I couldn't get back to sleep, THEN her alarm goes off at FIVE FORTY-FIVE, she gets up, loudly, turns the light on... so that was my 5 hours' or so sleep. Anyway, I got up and walked to Riomaggiore along the Via dell'Amore again, then caught the boat from there to the furthest town on the other side, Monterosso, where I had this delicious sort of spinach quiche-like thing, but on a pizza-type base. Yum! The views from the boat were lovely, as you can imagine.
Then I set out to hike the Monterosso-Vernazza stretch, which, as I said, is supposed to be the hardest. It certainly was at first - basically a flight of steps all the way up the mountain, ooof! It was not pleasant, but the views were great and once you were up the top (more or less) then it was a nice walk along the ridge and eventually, naturally, what comes up must go down. With the exception of Corniglia - town of the 368 steps, you will recall, you start out at sea level everywhere, so you constantly have to go up and down, there's no sneaky direction you can take to avoid hiking up. Please to be remembering this when you see my photos - every time I'm up high, it's cos I walked there from sea level! Okay, it's not Everest, but it's an achievement for me!
At Vernazza, I headed back to the beach and sunbathed with Mr. Henry James and then had a bit of a swim, dried off al fresco (after the fiasco with the microfibre towel picking up pretty much every leaf off the forest floor in Monza, I elected not to try it out at the beach...), then took the train back to Monterosso, where I had lunch and a bit of a wander around the town. I was perplexed at first why it looked so different from the morning, but figured it was my hopeless sense of direction, before eventually finding out that the town's actually bifurcated by a rocky spur, and I had been on the other side coming in on the boat from where I ended up from the train. Anyway, eventually found my way back to the boat which I took back to Riomaggiore, then walked to Manarola again.
All in all, highly recommend the Cinque Terre - stunning, relaxing, good exercise etc. My kind of hiking - you only have to go a couple of hours at most before the next place where you can get some food and a glass of wine or an ice cream! Much better than trogging through the bush with only the hope of a soggy weetbix as your reward! Kudos goes to Tiana for telling me to come here, would not have even known it existed otherwise!
Tomorrow I head to Genoa for 2 nights - no idea what I'm going to do there, it doesn't seem to figure very highly on the tourist trail, which isn't a bad thing. And then Nice! I can't believe my time in Italy has gone so quickly, I still feel like I just got here. Of course, horribly apprehensive about the flat hunt and teaching and all the rest of it, but it will be nice to (eventually) be settled and be an expat, not a tourist. Ciao!