You may wonder why I have not sent out an update to my website for a while - the short answer is that we have not been doing that much travelling over the last few months. This being the situation, having not been away for a decent length of time since Easter, we decided it would be good to get a week away before the end of summer.
We flew Ryanair into Pisa - and stayed at the same dodgy camping ground where Mike Hamilton had his arm broken. Generally, we had not heard great things about Pisa, so the next morning once we had stopped briefly for the obligatory tourist poses next to the tower we headed over to the train station and out of town.
We got to Cinque Terre kind of late (after lunch), but decided to set out anyway - on this basis that if we ran out of time we could stay in a village somewhere or easily grab the train if need be.
The idea behind Cinque Terre is that it is a walking track that goes between five quite traditional villages on the Northwest Coast of Italy. Now we had heard that since the 1970's the walk had become quite touristy - and in some places it was certainly a bit crowded - but in general, the weather, which was a bit overcast, seemed to keep the crowds down a bit. It also made for comfortable walking weather - and there were certainly some steep hills between Monterossa and Vernazza - so the cooler clime was certainly appreciated, even if it did prevent swimming along the way.
We got as far as the fourth village, Manarola by aroun 5pm. At this stage, the overcast weather had deteriorated into a pelting rainstorm. So we decided to stop and sample some of the great local wines. A couple of these later, and it was still raining, so we decided to flag walking to the last village and stay at Manarola the night.
A bit of missioning about later, and we had managed to secure some great accomodation. After freshening up a bit we headed out on the town. As the weather was still poor, we camped up at the local pub - which was quite amusingly also a gelataria. After a few drinks, and having handed out a severe beating to Korina in both backgammon and last card, we decided to go grab some dinner.
The food at the restaurant we chose was excellent, and it seemed that there were not many tourists about at all. I suppose that Manarola being the smallest town contributed to this, but the weather also helped.
Overnight we encountered a massive storm - large enough to blow the outside furniture off our terrace in the middle of the night! Luckily, by the morning the weather seemed to be breaking.
After picking up some of the best foccacia I've ever tried, it was time to head off to Lucca - so we walked over to Riomaggiore and caught the train. Amusingly, Riomaggiore was only around 15 mins away - we had thought that it might be around half an hour of hard slog in the rain the night before!