After an uneventful train trip from Siena, we finally made it, dragging and bleary-eyed, to Riomaggiore, the first of the 5 towns that comprise Cinque Terre. It’s a glorious day, warm and with a light breeze. We emerge from the tunnel from the train station to the town and are immediately charmed by this place. We drag our bags up a steep hill to the bus stop and wait for our ride up to the Cinque Terre Residence, the boutique hotel we booked. After the dreadful experience in Siena, we were really looking forward to some rest and quiet.

Riomaggiore from the waterfront

Things looked promising already. The locals here are friendly, nodding and smiling at us as they passed by. Little did I know they were probably just laughing at us with our roly-suitcases knowing just what lies ahead.  Fortunately, I had been in contact with our genial innkeeper, and knew that there was a bus that would take us up the hill if we didn’t want to hike up it with our stuff.  We didn’t, so we found a bench that looked like it might be a bus stop and waited.  And waited.  And waited.   Hey – these things are supposed to run every 20 minutes!  I guess that, like everything else in Italy is just a suggestion.  After the better part of an hour, we get on the little bus, and up the hill we went.

Riomaggiore is a delightful, sleepy town that is built straight up. The flat parts of the street are at a 45 degree angle, and it goes from there. Gotta love the bus. We see the hotel to the right. It goes straight up the mountain with small buildings painted various colors at different levels. Looks pretty, but I’m very glad not to be lugging my suitcase and briefcase up this steep street.

Cinque Terre Residence - a wonderful hotel!

The driver lets us off at the upper entrance to the hotel, and we looked at the steep switchback stairs that we would have to navigate to get to the lobby.   Fortunately, the Son of the House (never learned his name) immediately came out as we rang the gate-bell and operated an ingenious funicular basket that safely hauled our luggage down.  Then we got to trek down the stone stairs and path to the building Son called the Reception house.  We were greeted at the door by the propriatress,  a charming and delightful woman named Carla who made us feel she truly cares about the welfare of each one of her guests. After the experience we just had in Siena, this showed us we were once again in favor with the Travel Gods.  I’ll take it – for as long as it lasts.

We were soon shown to our room, which was large, comfortable, and with an awesome view from each of its two private terraces as well as the window.  Breathe…. Breathe…   With a glass of very nice local wine in our hands, we were soon sitting on the sunnier terrace looking at the town and a nice slice of the Mediterranean. Vlad generously informed me I redeemed my reputation as a trip planner.   Even my ears feel better.   Life is good again.

Heaven On Earth.