Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hiking the Ligurian Coast: Manarola -> La Spezia

Hidden paths in the Cinque Terre; maybe too hidden.

Start with another self-provided yogurt and muesli breakfast with nice views over town from our terrace. Wander through town a bit to find some bread and our coffee and tea. Manarola is actually pretty nice when it's empty. :-)

Grab our stuff and head up out of town, and I do mean up. On steps, through vineyards for the first 200m or so, then under the trees and up through a very nice forest for the last 500m to the ridge. Very sweaty, but this is a really, really nice walk. Nobody else to be seen, unsurprisingly the masses don't seem to like to walk uphill. Then along the ridge under the trees on the nice, flat, comfy, EMPTY path. Glimpses of Manarola and the sea through the trees.
Down a bit to rejoin another trail where we see the first people of the day : a few cyclists. Along the ridge some more, past a few other hikers, nice break in a more open area with views back down the coast. Along a bit more under then buzzing, buzzing bee trees and then we descend to the Telegrafo pass.

100m (distance) beforehand we hear it. Then we see it: restaurant/bar full of jovial hikers on there way from Riomaggiore to Porto Venere. Yacks! Run away!

Quick decision for the path down to Biassco, which is a steep, narrow cut along a streambed through the woods. Alone again... this is more like it! We top off our water in Biassa and then set back out for a bit around the hill. Well, kind of. It's really more like 200m of climb masked by a "bit of walk around the hill". Still, in the shade, through the woods, along... nice! At the top we take a marked, but not signed path that we think is on the map. After some very nice walking under treeds and a lunch break in a rocky, shadowy, light-flecked patch, its further on to the Mt. ??? and great views of La Spezia and further down the coast.

Finding the path down is pretty easy, but somewhere along the way we either lose it or it craps out. Continue along unil we hit a big road. At this point we think we know where we are on the map, but the indicated path is nowhere to be seen. Since two hours is much too long to wait for the next bus, we take a leap of faith and head down a private road that should have a path at the bottom. We weave down the road and, sur enough, there's a stairway next to the last house that leads us, eventually, down to La Spezia. Through town and then up an extra bonus set of 300+ stairs (ah... memories of San Francisco!) to the villa/B&B where we're staying.


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