Vernazza is the town Rick Steves prefers, and as a result, it was very crowded. It was funny to see almost every tourist holding various translations of his distinctive blue and yellow guide – including us. We had a lovely lunch on the harbor square since the day was so nice and warm. We chose the restaurant based on my online research, not the tour book, and therefore had a much better meal without all the crowds. Score one for me!
The owner of the restaurant waited on us himself, and was very chatty, telling us he liked practicing his English. Two of his sons, he told us, were the waiters, and the third son ran the kitchen with all of his own recipes. He took great pleasure to explain to us that in HIS restaurant, when you order it takes 15 – 20 minutes for your food to arrive. That’s because everything is always cooked fresh to order. He gave a rather disparaging sniff at the other two restaurants and said that if we were in a hurry, to go to one of the others who cook in the morning and reheat. He seemed quite pleased when we said that we were happy to wait.
Papa must have liked us, for he stood by us while we ate, chatting away. I couldn’t figure out why we were being favored until he asked me why my parents never taught me Italian. OK, I thought. That’s it. I had to find out why he thought I was Italian. He laughed when I said I was of Irish ancestry and said that I really look Ligurian. He pointed out a couple of the locals walking by – one of them could have been my cousin. The mystery of Genetics was solved.
Frankly, I wouldn’t mind being from here one bit. Not that I mind being of Irish descent, but Liguria’s a lovely place, with nice people and really great food. What more can you ask for? Something to think about, anyway.
Lunch done, we set out to explore. We walked to the top of the town and enjoyed the view of the colorful buildings all crowded together. It’s not as steep as Riomaggiore, but it’s definitely longer. Back down to the waterfront, we visited the local church. Built from stone, the spire and rear portions were obviously added at a much later date, with the main part of the nave still 14th century gothic. A very simple church inside, but most dignified. I liked it.
Back outside, the surf was too high for boats to be launched from the harbor, so we missed out on all of that action. What we did get to see were lots of spray from the waves dashing the breakwater and providing amazing photos. Worth the tradeoff, I’d say.
I highly recommend hiking up the steep stairs off the harbor to the ruined lookout Tower. The views from this place were incredible. We could see Monterosso to the right and Corniglia to the left. The haze made pictures that far away a bit difficult, but for the nearer sights, it was well worth the climb. There were cats and tourists all basking in the warm sun, and taking pictures – the tourists were, at any rate. The cats were being typically arrogant, posing for all the pictures with superior and smug expressions on their faces.
With all the sightseeing done, we headed back to Riomaggiore for our last dinner in Cinque Terre. The next day, Vlad was heading off to Monza and work, and I was buzzing down to Rome for two days of museum bliss.
Arrivederci, Cinque Terre. I hope to return again.