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Mission Europe 2: A Brief Affair in Cinque Terre

My title rhymes and it was completely unintentional!  Yeah me!

The original plan sometimes just doesn’t work out.  Such was the case in my visit to Cinque Terre.  My companion and I had acquired a rental car in Bologna, driven to the Festa dei Frutti Dimenticati in Casola Valsenio and had every intention of grabbing lunch in Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre means 5 lands.  It is a coastal region of Italy composed of many small towns, the most famous five destinations, all adjacent are part of what is known as Cinque Terre.  The small cities are part of a national park protected by UNESCO.  Since discovering a picture on the latest internet craze Pinterest, I set my heart on going.  It seemed simple enough…  Drive to La Spezia, the closest main town, park at the train station and take a train into one of the 5 destinations.  I had even researched the local culinary specialties, acciughe and sciacchetrà wine, so we would know what to order.

We could not have possibly foreseen that our malevolent GPS system was set to avoid the highway or that it would detour us 2 hours before reaching the La Spezia exit.  We also could not have foreseen that we would drive aimlessly for more than an hour in a tiny town unaccustomed to the presence of tourists.  After 2 hours of not getting any closer to Cinque Terre, violently threatening the GPS woman’s life and stopping for a gas refuel, we gave up.

We turned back onto the highway and set our destination for another city.  I could feel my heart sink a little trying to cope with an unaccomplished goal.  After an hour or so of being back on the freeway we began to see signs for La Spezia…  Already 2 hours behind schedule, we threw caution to the wind and decided that we might still find our way to Cinque Terre.  Ignoring commands given in a maddening British accent from the treacherous route planner we found our way to La Spezia train station.

We rallied efforts and energy, calculated time and decided we could spend 30 minutes (instead of the originally intended 2 hours) in the first town named Riomaggiore.  We arrived and were greeted with a scene that proved worthy of the preceding headache.  We walked around to admire the view while breathing in the lightly salted air.  Pressed for time we could not find a restaurant that served the local specialties…we opted instead for a little hole in the wall type place we stumbled across.

All smiles after eating a cone of fried seafood, a slice of sardine focaccia and an Italian beer, we rushed back to the train station and headed towards Alba, Italy.  Short and sweet, that sums it up.  Riomagiorre warrants a little more than 30 minutes, but we did our best and were very happy that we decided to try a second time to find Cinque Terre.

Until next time…

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