Remembering the Five Lands


Manarola Train Station

Every so often I get a severe case of the travel bug.  There’s something about particular mornings that have this “I’m going on an airplane” feel to it.  Even though I have no travel plans (as of yet) to go anywhere in the near future.  But the feeling is so thick and real, I can nearly smell the coffee in the bustling airport, or the stale cigarette in the yellow cab, or the sound of the rhythmic clicking of wheels from the suitcase as they roll speedily along the grooves of the tile.

Coastal village of Manarola taken from the Via Dell'Amore trail.

I woke up early this morning, just before the crack of dawn, and had that insatiable thirst for traveling.  I couldn’t go to sleep.  I tossed and turned and daydreamed of the potential fate of travel.  When I get these whims of nostalgia, the first thing I do is lug myself (with a cup of coffee or tea in my Choco Cat mug, of course) to the computer and check out airfare to all the places on my wishlist.

My flat's view: a sunset over Manarola's rooftops.

This morning is hot, slightly sticky, and bright.  It reminds me of the Cinque Terre, a coastal set of five villages on the Italian Riviera.  I stayed in a little two story flat (living area and kitchen downstairs, one bed and bath upstairs), in the car-less village of Manarola.  To get anywhere, one must either walk, bike, or take the train (the train station is a little hike away from the village).  For those in seek of a picturesque Italian village, I implore you to visit the Cinque Terre.  Nobody I talked to was disappointed, and even the locals knew they were living in a hidden jeweled section of the world.

Neighbor's lemon tree (which she so generously shared every day).

The five villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Rioamaggiore, of the Cinque Terre (which is translated to “Five Lands” in English), are all connected by a walking trail which range from “easy” to “difficult”.  I remember the trail from Manarola to Corniglia being surprisingly easy, but with a steep step of 368 stairs in the end.  The hardest trail was from Vernazza to Monterosso; it’s very steep, but by far the most spectacular.  I remember being perpetually amazed with the olive orchards and vineyards; as though I was walking through an Italian fairytale of make believe.  Such beauty actually existed?  I thought Hollywood movies created these images and romantics through pixels and digital effects.  To walk through it in the flesh is a memory I can gratefully say I remember well.

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