|The terraced hills of Cinque Terre|
|Main street, Manarola|
Mediterranean Sea on the Italian Riviera. For the record, the towns are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. To preserve their beauty, Italy has made the area a National Park and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
|Are these gorgeous???|
|The beach in Monterosso|
We visited on a cloudless, hot day - just the kind of weather you want as you hit the Riviera. We took a bus to the city of Spezia and then a train to the seaside town of Manarola. The first thing you notice in Cinque Terre is that the air has its own special scent: basil, thyme and sea air. As you travel to the area, you can see why. The towns are all built on the hills overlooking the sea and the hillsides themselves are terraced with grape vines, olive trees, herb gardens and flower beds. We took another train to Vernazza and then boarded a boat to Monterosso, the resort town of the Cinque Terre. By this time it was very hot and we were hungry, so we found an outdoor cafe with a gorgeous view of the beach and a big umbrella and settled in.
|Our lunch table!|
It was so hot that we went for the Cinque Terre, but got two small bottles, each from a different winery. (There was also some limoncello involved, because it's so darn good.)
Lunch was followed by a swim in the Mediterranean and our first attempts at paddle boarding. Let me say that paddle boarding looks a lot easier than it is. Thankfully, the water was very warm (and very salty, which I discovered numerous times while squealing as I fell off the board).
So of course I bought some of this wine home with us. I chose four bottles of Cinque Terre from different wineries.
|The Winey Family in Riomaggiore|
This wine is the perfect summer sipper, which is how I will always remember Cinque Terre: pastel buildings climbing the hills, burning sand, bright sunshine, scents of herbs and sea water and flowers everywhere. Add to that the warm, salty water and the sound of waves crashing on the shore and you have a beautiful memory.
These aren't the easiest wines to find here in the US. You may be able to order the Cinque Terre on line, but the Sciacchetra is very elusive. So consider yourself forewarned: if you ever get to Cinque Terre, bring some bubble wrap and save some room in your suitcase. Or go for it and ship some home to yourself. (Pricey option, though!)