The ocean side cliffs are colored by shades of pastel. Boats line the shore awaiting the next fishing trip. Green mountains contrast the vivid, cloudy blue skies. This is Cinque Terre.
Tucked along the Italian Rivera, the “Five Lands” of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso each sustain their own quaint charm. The town emerged as a popular tourist spot years ago, but it has managed to hold onto its authentic simplicity.
Alexander and I hiked in the mountains of Riomaggiore and were stunned by the beauty! We found so many rows of grape vines, along with apple and lemon trees.
We didn’t have the best luck in Cinque Terre: the weather was chilly and windy, the hiking trails were closed due to a landslide and, to top it off, there was a train strike on Sunday! Thankfully, we were able to soak in the “lazy life” that the towns are known for and eat our way through all the culinary specialities.
The area is known Genoese pesto because the basil and olive oil are so fresh! I am not exaggerating when I say that I literally drank the pesto off this pizza. It was amazing.
The lobster in Cinque Terre was the freshest I’ve every tasted–sweet and tender, paired with homemade pasta and tomato sauce! (Note to self: Pay attention to prices when splitting dishes. Alexander and I must have missed the “x2” next to the price because we were charged double for sharing the dish! Big learning lesson!)
We had the most amazing view of the sun setting over the Mediterranean during dinner.
While researching the cuisine of Cinque Terre, I read about the gelato “miele de Corniglia.” Corniglia, one of the five towns, was brilliant in combining locally produced Cinque Terre honey with fresh gelato. Alexander and I climbed 400 stairs to reach the hidden town on the cliff…just to try the gelato!
It was so worth it.
This was by far the most amazing gelato I’ve ever eaten. The honey gelato was the perfect combination of natural sweetness and creamy consistency. Paired with a scoop of pistachio gelato and the breathtaking view…divine!
I was so excited to try Limoncino, also known as “limoncello,” for the first time! The instant the pastel yellow liquor hit my tongue, I felt like I was eating a lemon drop. I would love to make it at home back in the U.S.!
Another drink we tried, special to Cinque Terre and very rare, is sciacchetrà. Once the grapes have been over-ripened by the sun, they are put in sheltered sites until they reach the right concentration of sugars and extracts. After wilting, the grapes undergo a soft pressing, followed by a long fermentation. I would describe sciacchetrà as a mix between Brandy and very strong wine. It was a bit too strong for me, but I can tell how it would be typical for eating with cheese and dessert.
Cinque Terre was so picturesque and a true escape from the outside world. One of the towns, Vernazza, calls their lifestyle the “lazy life.” That’s what I think makes Cinque Terre so attractive. In the hectic rush of life, we must remember to live simply and eat deliciously!
Love food, love self, love life.