casa al mare

We had a pretty spectacular place to stay while we where in Cinque Terre, about 200 m above the sea along a rocky outcropping among the vines of local wine growers.
heading in the first day – the kids were the only ones who could keep up with Luca

We rented a small stone house perched along the terraced vineyards of the rocky slopes just south of Riggomiore.  However, the location came at a price – it was a good 30 min hike from where we could park the car to the house.

hiking through the terraced vineyards to get to the house
The kids were pretty impressed that we had only solar power in our centuries old stone house.

Supper with a view
That may not normally be much of a big deal, but when you plan on spending the day hiking, tacking on an extra hour to whatever else you do does start to wear on those among you with shorter legs.

It was a spectacular hike – past a fountain that Napolean had stopped at with his troops, along the terraced vinyards, then down the centuries old stone steps that seemingly drop right into the sea before we reached our house.

eating breakfast without a shirt – because….vacation.

“private pool”
A few times we would fill up a plastic tub for Alma (or her siblings) to cool off in – but (and this is strange for someone from the Canadian prairies) we had to run the ‘cold’ water from the outdoor tap – then let it cool off and even add cold water to it, as the water comes down the hill in black pipes and heats up so much by the time it gets to the house that it’s actually quite hot. The outdoor shower was just ‘cold’ water – but the water temperature was often a bit too hot to be comfortable in late afternoon

Take Five

The week before Susan’s parents left we took a trip together to Italy – to the Cinque Terre.  These are five small towns along the northern coast not far from Genoa that are either perched down along the sea at the bottom of a cliff, or hanging on the side of a cliff above the sea.

 We were fortunate enough to be able to borrow an 8-passenger car (Toyota Land Cruiser – which our kids christened ‘the big rig’) so we all drove together for about 6 hours through the Alpes (quite literally -the amount of time and km’s we covered while in tunnels was beyond interesting, I started to feel like we were only coming up for air between them at some points)
We were also glad we had the Big Rig as the roads were not exactly passable by much, and it was reassuring to know that I could switch into 4WD and drive over a Fiat Panda if the need should arise.

Once we got there – it was a great vacation.  We had a lot of fun together, the weather was great, it was just a magnificent part of creation to be able to see.

The villages of:  Monterosso al MareVernazzaCornigliaManarola, and Riomaggiore which collectively make up the “Five Lands” are a UNESCO World Heritage site, and pretty impressive indeed. 

We had fantastic place to stay with spectacular views (which we earned with the 30 min hike on to get from the car to the house) 

We found stuff for everyone to do: hiking, gelato eating, swimming, more gelato, strolling through the villages, eating, finding gelato shops…. 

We drove to one of the villages, we hiked between them, we rode the train, we took a boat from one to the other -and every time the view was a bit different.

Because these villages had been essentially completely cut off until the trains came through – and still they remained fairly isolated unti probably late last century.  They retain quite a bit of their charm and history – which is what made the devastating flood/mud-slide that wreaked havoc on Vernazza last October even more devastating.

(more to come…)