posted by SHELLEY BRUCAR
More photos from Italy – these are from Cinque Terre, a steep and rugged portion of the Italian Riviera comprised of five villages, Monterossa, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomagiorre. The coastline here is absolutely gorgeous, and you can take the train from one village to the next or you can hike the trails. We love hiking so there was no question about our mode of transport. We had read that the hike from Monterossa to Vernazza can be strenuous, and it was – maybe more strenuous than the hiking we did last year at Zion and Bryce Canyon, Utah. After being revived by lunch in Vernazza, we decided to do the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia. This was supposed to be less strenuous and it was, but not by much! All the hiking was of course worth the effort because we were rewarded with such stunning views. Photographs can’t really capture the true grandeur, but here are a few anyway…
a small fraction of the steps we climbed, photo by Shelley Brucar. Italy is quite hilly, and although I know we must have been going downhill sometimes, it seemed like we were always going UPHILL! As a result, I am in better shape that I was before the trip. I have almost doubled my time on the stairmaster – in spite of all the pasta, wine and gelato – which are too wonderful for words!
I really love Cinque Terre and definitely want to go back there to do more hiking. We also had planned to do a boat trip in PortoVenere, but it got cancelled due to rain, and we were leaving for Sorrento the next day. So we must return to do that as well.
We stayed in Levanto, which I think is a good base for exploring this area. It is the town just north of Monterossa, easy to get to by train, very cute and charming, and lots of good food. One recommendation for dinner is Ristorante Da Rino, wonderful food and very nice owner who welcomed us back the second time we ate there with smiles and after-dinner linomcello, a tasty discovery.
The topic of dinner brings me to one of my observations about Italy that actually relates to stress management. Meals in Italy are obviously meant to be SAVORED, not rushed through as is often the case in the US. You choose as many courses as you want from several options: antipasto, zuppe (soup), primi piatti (pasta), secondi piatti (entree), insalata (salad), dolce (dessert), and of course finishing with cappaccino. And vino – really good vino – accompanies every meal. The expectation is that, once seated for dinner, you will be there all night, no pressure to turn over tables as we are used to in America. Servers take your order, deliver the food (one slow course at a time), then leave you alone to enjoy your meal and your company. You don’t get your bill until you ask for it (il conto, per favore). Of course Italian food deserves savoring! And that’s true of much American food as well.
Try eating your next meal, whether out or at home, more slowly. Really taste what you’re eating and enjoy every bite – time to give up the fast-food-in-the-car habit!