By Maria-Teresa Andreacchi
A photographer once told me it’s the one place in the world where you can’t take a bad photo. With colourful homes to add composition and breathtaking landscape as a natural background, the edge of Manarola, Cinque Terre has all of the elements of a perfect photo – and, as I discover, the perfect destination.
Cinque Terre, or in English “five lands,” is a stretch of five towns along the Italian Riviera. The UNESCO World Heritage site has been a traveller’s dream for years, known for its beautiful sights and exquisite cuisine.
I walk up the winding stone pathways lying between the colourful homes. The place I’m wanting to try is Trattoria dal Billy, a famous seafood restaurant tucked away from the main attractions. There are no menus at this place. Instead, the waiter recites the fresh catches of the day.
Curious and hungry, I choose the seafood antipasti, a selection of 12 mini seafood dishes infused with local ingredients. Raw fish with pomegranate seeds, anchovies with lemon, and marinated calamari. Washing it down with red wine made by Trattoria dal Billy, I discover a new love for seafood.
Hiking in Cinque Terre
The next day, I hike from Manarola to Riomaggiore. In 2011, a landslide wiped out nearly all of Cinque Terre’s coastal walking trails, and while some were later restored, the trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore remains closed. In an effort to truly experience this region, I ditch the short train ride to Riomaggiore and choose to hike over the mountain.
Walking up the stairs, then the rocks, then the mountain. It isn’t a straight line, but travelling rarely is. Standing at the top of the mountain, I see homes nestled between massive peaks of green. The S-shape coastline shows the sheer size of the mountains, one of which I’m standing on.
As I stop to catch my breath, I capture Manarola’s beauty by memory; a remote town unlike anything I have ever experienced. A town where steep slopes inspired architecture; land and water inspire culinary art; and landslides turned average tourists like me into extraordinary hikers.
The last morning, I walk back to the marina, the place that first fueled my desire to travel here. With a few moments left before departing, I snap the iconic photo. It is only a matter of time before another wanderer is inspired to explore the five lands known as Cinque Terre.