Sunday, July 15, 2007

A day on Riomaggiore (cinqueterre)

CinqueTerre (= "five lands") are five fishing villages in the middle of Cinqueterre National Park, a few kilometers north-west of Golfo della Spezia; this park has recently received a prestigious acknowledgment by UNESCO, which has defined this territory as a "humanity's world heritage". Every year millions of tourists from all over the world visit this site thanks to the beauty of the national park, the crystal clear waters and mostly for the most charming path of the world: the love path (via dell'amore).

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I didn't walk the love path, not this time, because I was with lazy friends; for a native the love path is something done many times each year, so I'll surely get my chance of shooting some pictures from there before long.
Today we went to Riomaggiore (SP), the first of the 5 Terre (at least for those coming from La Spezia). There is a selection of ways to reach this place and all the others. My ultra rated suggestion is a motorbike, followed by boat and train. There are different pros and cons with each solution.
Coming by motorbike means a wonderful asphalt with impossible grip and constant fight between speed and the urge to stop the bike and shoot pictures. The road you'd take is at almost 200 meters o.s.l. which means a 270° sea sight. A very good tele is totally advised. The cons are that you must park the bike somewhere and that means going UP to the bike after a long hot day of sea. I won't go into details: you'll see...
Coming by boat is fascinating, I never actually tried it because, as native, I have some haste for invasive boats... but you can actually take the ferry from a lot of cities (Lerici, Fiumaretta, Portovenere etc.) or use your own (at least I believe so...).
By train you have top commodity. You can buy a full inclusive ticket (5 Terre-card) in La Spezia station (or any other), which gives you unlimited access to the trains to and from 5 Terre, and naturally you won't pay for the love path (yeah: you pay to access the love path but it's totally worth it). Try to picture it: you wake up in a camping site in Levanto, take the first train to Monterosso, stay there the time to shoot some pictures, take another train to Riomaggiore, come back to Vernazza, some love path and back to Levanto: all with the same cheap ticket! Another advantage is that the train stations are quite close to the sea: not so much to walk. Here is a little sample of Riomaggiore's

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Usually trains are so long (and full) that top and bottom are still well inside the tunnel and many tourists mistake the station for a train traffic-light or something.

The village is suspended into time. I've been there in every season and with every possible weather condition for many years and they still look the same.

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Ok, there are some ATMs, and a little bit too many tourists to consider it pure, but the core of the fishing village is preserved. Go to Monterosso at 5 o'clock in the morning and you'll see the fishers' boats coming back loaded with fish (acciughe in particular).

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Let's take a look at the sea now, shall we? You can't see it but there is a cave in Riomaggiore you can explore (about 30 meters deep). Go to the beach in the afternoon then swim close to the coast for about 200 meters on the south side.

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Most people can retaliate a place all by themselves.

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Finally the love path. This time there was no way I could go, but I climbed up to shoot the starting point of via dell'amore.

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A note about my Canon Powershot G7. The camera shot a total of 170 photos: 700MB in the SD card with an average of 4.5MB per photo. 2/3 of them where discarded but after just 1 week of use I'm totally in awe for this amazing gadget. The colors are amazingly true and I played a lot with the manual settings. Indeed: almost all the pictures were shot with manual settings but surely image stabilization and auto-focus helped a lot. I never used the tripod: there was absolutely no need. The battery gave no sign of giving away: I believe 100 more shot were available!
This place looks spectacular also below water: pity I can't afford the water cover.


My friends trying to locate an empty spot
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Antonio: beginning of Via dell'amore
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Lina (from Sweden) in the tunnel connecting the train station of Riomaggiore with the beach
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Christine (from France) smiling!!! First and only time in the whole day
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Davide and Lina
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Lina having a taste of pizza with Nutella
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Antonio
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Me without a tan
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Lina taking a shot with her cameraphone
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Lina
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Me with the tan and the beginning of Via dell'Amore
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This pic was taken because my friend wanted to test the zooming of the G7
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This one too :-D
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