Arriving from Lucca to La Spezia was quite a positive surprise. To be honest, I expected the worst thinkable tourist trap with bracelet sellers on every corner and nothing that the town itself could offer. I was wrong, it’s actually a pleasant place to be with a nice flair. It has a great park and a nice loooong promenade at the sea, lots of boats to look at, if you like that sort of thing and it’s not ugly at all.
For those who have no idea why I ended up in La Spezia when I wanted to visit Cinque Terre, here a short explanation – Cinque Terre is not a single place but a set of officially 5 villages at the sea in the Cinque Terre national park, part of UNESCO: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. These 5 villages are very pretty and also very tiny (absolutelly forget going by car), therefore offerring only very limited and exorbitantly expensive accomodation. La Spezia is a nearby city that is the perfect place to start your trip by train or boat. And has enough places to stay, still not cheap but one can see that at least there are some free market forces on the way.
In Lungomare Rooms&Apartments, the place where I stayed, I performed most likely the most challenging conversations in Italian so far. First, a lady who didn’t speak a word English welcomed me for early check-in. Told me that the room is ready, if I could give her my passport that she’d need to make a copy and that the payment will be done to the manager in the evening. Then she showed me the room and I was amazed that I understood like two thirds of it all and even managed to react at some points. The second conversation happened in the evening. The manager, who spoke fantastic English, found out within 5 seconds that I know some Italian basics and nothing, nothing would make him switch back to English from that moment on. Which was a good thing, otherwise we couln’t have a nice chat about La Spezia, which restaurants to visit, about Prague and about Germany and that my Italian is not so bad after all and where I learned. In Siena, I said proudly. Grazie di nuovo, Sabrina e Mauro@Saena Iulia!
Anyway, I spent some time reading and writing on the lovely promenade, had dinner afterwards and went to bed quite early on that day. Because, yeah, I decided to take the very first train at 7 a.m. to Manarola, my Cinque Terre favourite. Planned to see the sunrise but realized already in the train, that it is physically impossible to see the sun rising when you’re on the west coast with a massive mountain in your back. Still, could be worse, I had the whole town just for me, so I got immediately lost as there were no streams of tourists to follow. But I was happy. It was beatiful and so calm. I walked up an enormous hill in order to see absolutely nothing of Manarola but at least a 120 degrees of the sea and the wineyards. On my way down, I finally found the real view place from which all the classic pictures were made. All that still by myself. I’m telling you – sunrise is the new sunset.
My hapiness didn’t take very long – at about 9 a.m., ENORMOUS amount of people turned up and started to ruin the moment with their selfie sticks and “record-as-you-walk” camcorders and smartphones. Because it’s so unimportant to see the world with your own eyes. Time to move on – direction Riomaggiore! Riomaggiore doesn’t have that dramatic flair as Manarola, it’s more sort of down-to-earth, or rather down-to-sea, since the town really directs you down to the microscopic harbor at the sea. The main street is kind of city centre with lots of cute shops with spice, fruits and vegetables, pottery, souvenirs small cafés etc. Worth visiting!