Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cinque Terre Part II

5Terre again? You betcha!

Recurring dreams can come true.

This was our Ligurian home base for a week. From it, we were able to visit great parts of the region, compliments of our rental car, sunglasses and our trusty Italian map.

Visting 5Terre again was certainly twice as nice. I was excited when on June 27th I was able to return my feet into the waters of the Ligurian Sea; the charm of the Italian Riviera surrounding me. This part of the Riviera is known as The Riviera di Levante (“the coast of the rising sun”).

Suggested Stay:

A week or a lifetime; your choice!

Getting To Cinque Terre:

We arrived to 5Terre via rental car from our week long stay in S. Albino. The views making the intimate hair-pinned decent from the autostrada past Levanto and on to Cinque Terre were amazing. This was a special treat for us this visit ~ the last trip we arrived by train. While the train ride will treat you to magnificent views of the sea, I enjoyed the trip down from the heavens... I felt like a seabird landing from flight.

Must See & Do:

La Poesia ~ Returning to 5Terre meant we knew precisely where we were staying. La Poesia is the charming bed and breakfast that first welcomed us to Monterosso in 2007. We were thrilled to see our friend Nicoletta again and finally meet her daughter Veronica. In typical fashion, Nicoletta promptly invited us onto the terraced patio and served us ice cream cake with fresh creme and blueberries. Great thing I went on a diet before traveling!

Since our last visit, Nicoletta started adding omelettes to her incredible breakfasts she makes each morning. I never ate so many eggs... made so many different ways!

This B&B is
charming and I'd recom-
mend it if you're staying in Cinque Terre. My suggestion is to book the more spacious Giglio Rosso Suite. Visit La Poesia online for more details. If you decide to stay at La Poesia, please tell Nicoletta Patrick sends her a big kiss all the way from Texas!

Fabbrica d'Arte Monterosso ~ This was one of two favorite local art stores I found in 2007 (the other was in Vernazza). If you're lucky, when you depart La Poesia, Nicoletta will present you with a small ceramic tile in the shape of a unique Italian casa ~ these tiles are made at Fabbrica d'Arte! It's customary to hang these tiles over your doorways for good luck; and the more your have, the better your luck. Buona fortuna!

You'll also find ceramics made from interesting materials ~ my favorites were bowls and little fish fired with broken blue glass in the bottom. The end result? During firing, the glass melts smooth and creates a beautiful finish top with crackled glass views beneath. Visit them online.

L'Ancora dell
Tortuga ~ Nicoletta suggested this new restaurant which opened since our last Monterosso visit. Make sure you call ahead for reservations outside; the tableside sea views made it our favorite restaurant in Monterosso, hands down.

Like a fish out of water, I was vacationing in Liguria ~ a region known for great seafood. And me? I'm not a fan of seafood since an oyster-eating challenge at the age of 8 (a wretching story, indeed). So, when I break outside my comfort zones of pasta and chicken with reckless abandon for frutti di mare, I know when I've had an amazing dish when I want more. And Tortuga's cocktail di gamberetti all' avocado (shrimp and avocado cocktail) was something I could eat daily! I found it a delightful mash-up of Italy and Texas. Also tasty was the vegetable and king lobster ravioli, lasagne with pumpkin, funghi and pecorino... and many more! We loved this place so much, we ate there twice during our visit (one night they were booked, but that would have made feeding #3)!

Our waitress' name was Francesca and I suggest you ask for her by name. If you're lucky, she'll still be working there! She was a delightful and graceful young lady who, when the time came, maneuvered the hilly stairs like a bulldog. Hey, gotta serve the food, right?

Ristorante Al Castello ~ Make the short 5 minute train ride to Vernazza and enjoy sporty seaside dining at this amazing restaurant. This was my second visit to Al Castello and we enjoyed amazing views of the setting sun... as well as delicious food. Two thumbs up to the pesto lasagne, which was out of this world.

Our waitress Monica ~ I believe she's head cheese of il ristorante and I also read she has a loft for rent on the hilly high top if you prefer to stay overnight in Vernazza. After 3 bottles of vino shared by two and eating antipasti, pastas, lemon torte and creme-filled pastries, Monica invited us up to the restaurant's new side expansion alongside the narrow, rocky walkway and treated us to fruit sorbet and vin santo.

Our walk? It was more like a embarrassing waddle of shame... I was impressed that the cliff could support my extra weight! And girth.

Our Next Stop:

Day-tripping it across Liguria and Emilia-Romagna. Our first stop? Some unfinished business in Portovenere.

Want more Cinque Terre?

Why not read about my first trip to 5Terre back in 2007? Or you can take a "picture trip" on my Flickr page. It'll make you want to book your flight!

for the love of : italy

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