Arrivederci Tuscany! Polly and I climbed back on the Eurorail for our next destinazione Italiana … Ciao Cinque Terre! Except for nearly missing our connection at the Bologne train station (I’m not sure if I’ll ever completely unravel the “mysteries” of those platforms, tracks, connecting trains … blah blah blah), the ride was scenic and rather uneventful. The five hilltop villages comprising Cinque Terre are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Brightly colored buildings are perched high atop cliffs of the Italian Riviera and overlook the Ligurian Sea. Polly and I disembarked the train at Monterosso al Mare and “schlepped” our luggage to Hotel Baia, a casual beachfront property that is ideally situated for navigating both sections of this village. http://www.baiahotel.it (A crucial bit of advice: hail a taxi to deliver you at your hotel, as the hills and cobblestone streets of Cinque Terre are not where you’ll want to be dragging your luggage behind you!) Having powered out four nonstop days in Florence, our relaxing stop in Cinque Terre was a welcome and justifiable change of pace. So after our arduous trek to Hotel Baia, we grabbed a few chaise lounges on the beach and relished in the warm, bright sun as it soothed our aching muscles.
Polly and I decided early on that we would not plan a rigorous schedule of sightseeing in Cinque Terre, opting instead for a few impromptu days. We arrived without even a hotel or restaurant reservation, and having luckily found a charming beachfront room at Hotel Baia (we had no idea the place would be so busy in October!), we felt quite confident that questioning a few of the locals for Monterosso’s best restaurant would yield a big score as well. SUCCESS!! Ristorante Miky is a culinary dream. Our waiter was knowledgeable and incredibly friendly, taking time to explain the culinary preparations and style of Ristorante Miky. They’re passionate about utilizing the day’s freshest catch from the Ligurian Sea, and as we’ve heard before, “the proof is in the pudding”. Ristorante Miky’s specialty dish of Trenette alla Pescatrice is prepared by placing the frutti di mare in an oval ramekin, seasoning to perfection, topping it with a homemade dough, then baking it in a woodburning oven. This was exquisite proof to say the least! Polly and I were so impressed with our entrees that we made an immediate decision to return for dinner the following night. Ristorante Miky is a MUST when visiting Monterosso al Mare! http://www.ristorantemiky.it/index3.html
Hiking the trails which link the five villages of Cinque Terre is an extremely popular adventure for visitors. When we arrived here, that was certainly our plan. However, two and half weeks into our jam-packed Italian holiday, Polly and I were exhausted. Our visit here became a wonderful respite where we strolled the streets of both sections of Monterosso. The older village is filled with tiny shops, homes, cafes, parks, hills and narrow streets that seem to trail off in no particular direction. Absolutely whimsical! During our second day in Cinque Terre, we stopped in for antipasto and vino at Da Eraldo in Piazza Matteotti and were immediately convinced that this was THE perfect spot in Monterosso for apps and wine. Our selection of antipasto was incredibly flavorful … the best I’ve had anywhere … and was served with freshly baked tigelle flatbread. A glass of Barbera perfectly complimented the dried meats, grilled vegetables and savory cheeses. We strolled back to our hotel in the “newer” section of Monterosso, grabbed a couple of chaise lounges again, and took a welcome siesta before packing our luggage once more for the early morning train to Venice. Packing finished, we stepped out for a glass of vino at Enoteca 5 Terre, a wine shop near Hotel Baia, then walked to Ristorante Miky for yet another spectacular dining experience … a felicitous end to our short but captivating visit to the Italian Riviera’s Cinque Terre!