Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Incredible Train Journeys- Cinque Terre

Not often, but still some dreams do come true. One such fascinating dream was a journey by train through the Cinque Terre, on the Ligurian coast of Italy. The trip was planned months in advance to explore the most amazing natural beauty of the five fishing villages on the Mediterranean coastline of Italy.  We had planned our itinerary in such a manner that we could stay at a small fishing village called Moneglia which was close to the five villages that we had planned to explore, not too crowded and a beautifully quiet environment. So after having completed our stay at Florence, we boarded a train to Moneglia. It is a distance of about 190 km and takes almost 2 hours and 40 minutes by an express train. The train was quite crowded as the holiday season was about to commence. We kept enjoying the sights once the train left the busy Florence station and en route we saw the granaries of Italy, where the crops of wheat-filled the vast tracts of the land. Also, the industrial might of the country was visible in forms of huge plants of cars and industrial machines as we passed through the cities of Prato, Pistoia, Lucca, Massa and La Spezia.
The pretty Manarola
We often saw some fascinating castles and duomos which were so alluring from distance that we were tempted to deboard and explore. Alas! one can only see finite beauty in a finite time. From La Spezia, the route became very fascinating as we were entering the Cinque Terre region. Every few minutes the train would disappear in a dark tunnel and emerge to show off the sparkling crystal  Mediterranean sea that hugged the rail tracks very close. The undulating hills with groves of tall trees, colourful fishing villages of Riamaggorie were the next halt.
The Colourful Riomaggiore
The conspicuous slant towards the sea from heavens up above with rows of multi-hued houses and tethered tiny boats were sights to die for. The stations suddenly got more crowded as the revellers who normally purchase two or three-day tickets for unlimited travel between Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso( the legendary five villages), keep boarding and alighting the stations as the train slows down for everyone to assimilate the unsurpassed natural beauty.
The pretty rocks and fishing boats
Miles of unspoilt beaches, sailboats, motorboats, swaying palm trees hugging the mountains at the other end kept me hooked for the next 45 minutes till the train reached Levanto. The next station was Moneglia where we were to deboard the train. In less than 15 minutes we arrived at the tiny station of Moneglia. We were the only passengers when the train halted. The clean air filled my lungs and the sight all around gave an impression that we were in heaven. A dwindling road through a grove of lemon trees brought us to the parking area where our charming hostess awaited us in her car to take us to our Airbnb accommodation where we planned to spend the next couple of days.
The sea kissed jagged mountains with winding trails

Next day, we reached Levanto once again, to buy two days of unlimited train passes to see every place between Levanto and La Spezia as many times as we wished. The Cinque Terre Card as it is called comes with a host of other privileges like free shuttle bus rides, wi fi, including a visit to certain national parks for less than 15 Euros.

The delectable desserts
After having acquired this passport to heaven for 2 days, we went ahead by exploring the beauty of these little villages starting from Riomaggiore and going back and forth. A detail of the best destinations and things we explored can be seen in an earlier post(  Best food, bakery stuff like Focaccia, Pizzas, Pastas, Farininatas, Corzetti, Porcini Mushrooms, Gellataria, Pesto sauce( incidentally the birthplace of pesto) will never fail to delight.
A Colour Riot- The Fresh Produce
Long stretches of sand beaches of Monterosso, picturesque villages of Vernazza and Riomaggiore and quietness of Corgnilia, long treks through the orchards of olives, strawberries in Moneglia,  will stay in memories forever. For more adventurous Guvano nude beach and other attractions exist. The fresh produce of the region is breathtaking and the riot of colour is a feat for eyes

I discovered a little haven called Bonassola beach which was the last stop before calling it a day. Ernst Hemingway once described this town as' so sweet, unforgettable, and inexhaustible'. Despite this statement being made several decades ago, still holds true to this day.

PS: All pictures are mine
2. Next week I will take you to a new destination in pursuit of some unforgettable adventurous train journeys. 

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