The Cinque Terre: Lerici/Vernazza/Portovenere

We had a day to do the Cinque Terre! We drove off with all our maps provided by the campsite. We were advised that Lerici was worth a visit and as it was the closest, we went there first. The weather was amazing, perfect for sight seeing by the sea. We arrived at Lerici and parked in the shortest space around, the truck was sticking out about 3 ft! We wondered around the harbour past lots of lovely boats and climbed the steep stairs to the fortress, we walked around the outside, Ben investigating it in detail as per usual. Sadly the inside had been turned in to a palaeontology museum which was expensive to enter so we didn’t go in but not so sadly on the outside there were loads of dinosaurs made out of expanding foam!!! We walked down through the pretty streets and back to the car. We decided to choose one of the five Cinque Terre villages to visit next. We thought that Vernazza sounded the best and was in the middle of the five of them so wasn’t too far to drive. The leaflet we had been given described Vernazza as ‘outstanding’. ‘Tower like buildings flank the narrow alleyways leading down to the anchorage, which is set in a fairy-tale bay.’ We’re in for a treat we thought!! We wound around the hillside, through villages and around tight bends with no barriers. On the decent down to Vernazza the road seemed to be getting worse with what looked like serious subsiding, the road was literally disappearing beneath us. We finally reached the bottom and into a small car park, happy to see that other people had driven down too, we weren’t the only mad ones! It wasn’t until we got out of the car and started walking down the road that we realised the village had recently suffered devastating flooding, the road had disappeared, houses had been swept away, cars were crushed on the side of the road tangled up with fences and road signs, as we got nearer to the village there was a massive photo that had been taken straight after the flood back in October, we couldn’t believe it was 7 months ago, there was still so much clearing up to be done. We carried on down to the harbour, the beach had disappeared and was now a mound of rubble, nevertheless you could see that the community had pulled together, a few restaurants in the harbour had opened again, there was outside seating with brightly coloured umbrellas, you could begin to imagine how pretty the village once was. We began to walk back up to the car still taking in the devastation, on the way we saw an elderly man slowly rebuilding his house stone by stone, we felt so sorry for him. It reminded us of Boscastle when they suffered serious flooding a few years ago. We drove back up, avoiding falling off the edge of the disappearing road, now realising the poor road quality was due to the mud slides down the mountain from the flooding.

On the way home we decided to go via Portovenere, a ‘striking sea-faring village’. The village was surrounded by a fortress and a stripy church (see pics!!). We walked around the fortified walls, the sun was streaming in through the arches, it was really pretty! We walked around the harbour, past the fisher men, down lots of steep steps. It was a nice end to the day. The Cinque Terre would definitely be a place we would come back to and explore further!

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