We left Rapallo at 11:00 and arrived at Nicole and Jeff’s hotel in Monterosso at about 1:30. They unloaded and got checked in and then all five of us promptly walked down the hill to the strain station where we rode to the first and easiest trail to hike, Riomaggiore. Alan and I really expected to only visit the first village and look around a bit, but we were inspired by the other intrepid hikers; and even in our debilitated states, we found the hike manageable. The path was smooth and the views of the mountains and sea were incredibly gorgeous; and it was only a twenty-minute hike to the next village, Manarola, and we walked through the village and continued on to the next, which our map said would be 45 minutes. It took us about 55 minutes to get to Corniglio and the last part, 368 steps up, were a killer. We made it with no trouble, but were definitely ready to stop and have lunch. Uncle Jeff who had along done this hike, had recommended a restaurant, so we searched it out and found what he believed to be the most gorgeous view in Corniglia: Indeed it was gorgeous, but a misty rain was starting. We had a satisfying lunch and Alan and I decided to call it quits here, get out of the mist and take the train back to Monterosso. Perk decided to hike one more trail to Vernazza and Nicole and Jeff were determined to hike to the end as long as the weather didn’t make it to slippery. Between Vernazza and Monterosso is the most difficult and dangerous trail with steps that at times are only wide enough for one person. At the train platform, we met a couple from my hometown, Ft. Wayne, IN; it is, indeed, a very small world! We arrived in Monterosso in just 15 minutes and promptly stopped to buy decongestant for both of us in the pharmacy. From there, we enjoyed walking around Monterosso where during the entire month of May they have a lemon fest. Bands were playing and there was a festive atmosphere everywhere. At about 6:00 PM, we went in a charming little bar and have a cappuchino and our accompaniment was delicious almond biscotti. Perfect! We sat there a while to warm up and then wandered back to the band shell to listen to more music. Even though these towns are touristy, the lives of the villagers seem so tranquil and amazing. Their homes nestled in the cliffs are incredible and so picturesque.
We didn’t know quite how long it would take Perky to finish the hike and arrive on the train from Vernazza, but we were thinking 7-ish. Just about 8:00 and now chilled and getting impatient, we were ready to call Jeff on the cell when he called us to say that they all had continued the entire hike and we just 20 minutes from Monterosso. We waited a little bit and then headed to the end of the trail where we would see them arrive. Alan went up 50 steps or so to see if he could hear them coming and took this shot of me waiting below. Congratulations to the intrepid travelers!!