Friday, May 8, 2020

Footloose in Italy: The Cinque Terra

Corniglia sits on a high promontory
at the base of the mountains.

Louise and I love to travel, both in the U.S. and abroad, and have been blessed with the opportunity to visit more than 30 countries as well as most of our states. Since the late 1980s we seem to have averaged about one major trip every five years. In 2005 our destination was Italy.

I call the way I like to travel "footloose," meaning no fixed itinerary and no fixed schedule. Louise doesn't like doing that as much as I do, and indeed it's getting increasingly difficult to travel that way, especially abroad. But this was 15 years ago, the world wasn't quite as hostile a place, and Louise was only 60 then and more adaptable.

We arrived in Rome and found a nice place to stay. I'll write more about our time in Rome in a future post. We spent several days there before taking the train on up the coast. I should mention that we never rented a car while in Italy -- we went everywhere by train, bus, and taxi. And we did a lot of walking!

Monteroso and its beach.

By 2005 I was only into my second year with digital cameras and carried a pair of Canon EOS 20Ds with an assortment of lenses (too many, actually) on this trip. The lens most used was the Canon EF 24-85 f3.5-4/5. I also carried a Sigma 14mm lens, which was valuable because it gave a 21mm field of view on the APS-C sensor of the 20D. The only full-frame cameras available at that time were the Canon EOS 1Ds and 1DsII, both far beyond my budget.

We had heard much about a place called Cinque Terra (it literally means "The Five Lands"), five villages on Italy's northwest cost which are also part of a national park and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spent the night in a hotel in Livorno and arrived in Monteroso, northernmost of the villages, the next day. We quickly found a place to stay, and set out to explore. And also, of course, to find something to eat!

Monteroso is surrounded on three
sides by terraced mountains.

Besides Monteroso, the other villages are (going south) Vernazza, Corniglia, Manorola, and Riomaggiore. They are built at the base of mountains rising out of the sea, and Monteroso, Vernazza, and Riomaggiore are actually built in ravines coming down the mountanside. That has been the cause of some serious flooding and destruction on occasion. The mountansides, by the way, are fully terraced with vineyards.

The houses in Riomaggiore are almost built on top
of each other on the steep sides of a ravine
going down to the water.

 Monteroso has a very nice, although not large, beach, and Louise, ever the beach bunny was eager to get in some sun-time. We both are also inveterate explorers, and on our second day there she talked me into walking up and over the mountain to Vernazza. She obviously has no respect for the elderly! But it was well worth it.

To be continued. . .

Blog Note: I'm taking a temporary break from the "Photographers You Should Know series. They are time-consuming and sometimes difficult to write, and I have quite a bit on my plate right now. But we'll be back with more soon. Next up: James Ravilious.

(Photographs copyright David B. Jenkins 2020)
Soli Deo Gloria
To the glory of God alone


  1. Always wanted to visit Cinque Terre but doubt it will ever happen now. Good piece here. Enjoyed reading it.

  2. Thanks, Seagrove. I would love to go back, but in a way, you can't really go back. We went back to southeastern Maine last summer for the first time in 31 years and found it changed in ways we didn't care for.