Travel day to Torino/Turin

Linda woke to the noise of breaking glass and ignored it three different times before she finally got out of bed at 7:40. It’s Sunday morning! Why do they need to put their glass recycling out so early?

We weren’t in any hurry to pack up but were ready to move on to Turin. Corniglia was a charming little sea town said to be the quietest in Cinque Terre in terms of tourist activity. They forgot to tell us that the locals live loudly here! LOL

We left the apartment and headed up the hill a bit for breakfast. A couple of the caffe-bars here serve their version of an American breakfast and that is exactly what Dave ordered. Linda, not up for jiggly bacon and eggs, asked for a cured meats/cheese plate with toast. Both breakfasts included a coffee beverage and juice. The orange juice looked more like Tang but tasted more like mandarin – Yum. Our meals were very good and Dave found out too late that he could’ve asked for jam (as the toast was plain).

Today’s breakfast is brought to you by Bar Nunzio
Dave’s runny whites, but hard yolk eggs, cooked, but not crispy bacon, cheese and dry toast … sounds terrible, but it tasted great. In the back, hot water in the picture to water down the Caffe Americano (next), Latte Macchiato, and Orange Juice
Linda’s meats and cheese breakfast

Between breakfast and heading to the train station, we decided to take one more quick walk (quick, primarily because of how small Corniglia is). We stopped at another Oratorio in town. This one had an artistic show going on that was called “Unruled”. There were two woman playing violins.  They sounded fantastic.

Altar area in Oratorio Dei Disciplinati
Ceiling in Oratorio Dei Disciplinati
Two violinists in Oratorio Dei Disciplinati

The little bus to the train station arrived a couple of minutes after we showed up with our gear but unfortunately when the driver checked our 3-day bus/train passes, he informed us that they expired yesterday and offered no alternative other than to walk to the train station. This was not the end of the world as 1) the weather was 65 degrees, 2) it was downhill on a paved (not cobblestone) road, and 3) Dave did all the work! See photo. It took about 20 minutes and we met a few folks who were walking uphill, some with their luggage. We were glad we weren’t them.

Violinists in Oratorio Dei Disciplinati
Nice view of people taking the stairs in Corniglia

We decided to take an earlier train and spend over two hours in a new place, Sestri Levante, just for a change of scenery. It was a very average place and we quickly found a bar open on Sunday with locals sitting outside, smoking and chatting loudly (recurring theme). Dave had a latte macchiato (espresso with steamed milk) and Linda had a birre (beer). It was enjoyable just to listen to the gentlemen who would be about Dominic’s (Dave’s dad) age when he died bantering in their native language, sometimes with their hands but always loudly!

We must be missing our little ones, because we sure like taking pictures of the tots we see.
A beer and a caffe latte, all is well with the world
Sestri Levante train station
Games of chance at the bar in Sestri Levante
Bar area and patrons in Sestri Levante
Italians, primarily men, hanging out at the bar in Sestri Levante. They all arrived in the last hour.
Italians, primarily men, hanging out at the bar in Sestri Levante. They all arrived in the last hour.
Italians outside the bar in Sestri Levante

Back on the train and headed up the coastline, we went through the Italian Riviera then through Genoa. As we left the coast and headed north of Genoa, the terrain turned flatter with more trees. As we approached Turin, the countryside became farmland. We could see the snow-covered Alps in the distance.

Coast along Italian Riviera
Cruise ships in Genoa
Dave working on the blog on the train

Arriving in Torino at about 18:00, we quickly realized that we “we’re not in Kansas, anymore”. We had returned to a big city life. This was obvious from the size of the train station to the bustle of the street as we headed to our apartment. We chose to take a taxi for the one mile. Once we got near our apartment and encountered the crowds, we knew for sure life would be different for the next few days.

Train platform in Torino Porto Nuovo station
Torino Porto Nuovo train station
Torino Porto Nuovo train station

We had a little trouble getting into the apartment building, first, due to Dave not reading all the information telling you how to get in and, second, due to phone service that still doesn’t seem to work well. Once we got in the building, we headed up the elevator (YEA!! … yes, Dave wrote that). We passed through a locked gate that is shared by other apartments residents, a locked gate in front of our apartment, and the locked door to the apartment. We feel very safe, should someone try to get in … lol. For those keeping track, yes, we have five keys, including the one for the elevator.

After dropping off our things and looking around the apartment (that didn’t take long), we headed out to the streets of Torino. We are clearly in the heart of the central city shopping and dining area. The streets and restaurants were both alive and filled with people.

Apartment entry
Apartment bedroom/living room and shower
View out apartment window

Unlike Rome, this city’s streets are laid out in more of a grid fashion. The architecture seems to have less of a “Roman” feel to it, instead a feeling of a French/continental Europe influence.

Street in Torino
Palace of Savoy Senate
Street in Torino
Street in Torino
Street in Torino with the Cathedral dome in background

After looking at a quite a few menus, we settled on a restaurant called Trattoria Da Ale, located in Piazza Corpus Domini. We ordered a half-liter of house wine and Linda ordered the spaghetti with clams and Dave had the lamb chops. Both were outstanding.

Tonight’s dinner location
Spaghetti with clams
Four lamb chops in scottadito and a small salad, diced roasted potatoes showed up later
Cheisa Corpus Domini across from dinner location

In between ordering and receiving our food, two three-wheeled “deliver trucks” called APE, pronounced “ah-peh”, showed up honking their horns loudly and repeatedly. It turned out that in the back of the vehicles were guitars, a drum set, and amplifiers. We thought they might be setting up to play. It turns out that setting up meant playing from the back of the vehicles. They played for quite a while and drew a good-sized crowd. Hopefully, through the videos below, you will get a feel for things. When they were done playing, they packed up the vehicles, started honking their horns again, and drove off. It was really fun.

Street musicians on APes

We then walked around a little more, coming to realize the restaurant was less than two blocks from our apartment. And, a café that Linda thought would be nice for breakfast one day is located right next door. The advantages of city-life, we guess.

If you would like to see more videos of the musicians or more detail on the pictures, you can click here: 2022-10-02 Corniglia-Sestri Levante-Torino

Oh, September, where did you go?

It’s October 1, where did September go? Oh, that’s right Como, Bellagio, Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Parma, Modena, Florence, Orvieto (a couple of times), Rome, Ripabottoni, Campobasso, Siena, Corniglia, Riomaggiore, and Manarola. Whew! We decided we need to get home and veg; this vacation stuff is exhausting.

The weather looked decidedly better today than yesterday. The sky was filled with clouds, but breaks of sky showed through. The forecast for the day called for clearing skies and a high in the upper 60s.

Today looks much better from the living room

It was 60° when we left for our hike to Vernazza at about 9:30. In keeping with his recent skills, Dave started us off on the wrong trail to Vernazza, so we had to turn around. The good news was that it allowed us to be back to the apartment and change into cooler clothes. As the hike and day went on, we were very happy we were able to go back and change.

Sanctuary of St. Peter’s church in Corniglia
Altar in St. Peter’s Church n Corniglia
View of Corniglia from “wrong” trail
View of Corniglia from trail to Vernazza
View of Corniglia from trail to Vernazza
This wagon is on a bar that is used in the farming operations down the hil. You can see the drive mechanism under the rail.
This wagon is on a bar that is used in the farming operations down the hil. You can see the drive mechanism under the rail.
View of St. Barnardino from the trail to Vernazza
This is one of the easy parts of the trail from Corniglia to Vernazza
Easy part of the trail from Corniglia to Vernazza
View of Corniglia from trail to Vernazza
View back to Corniglia from trail to Vernazza
View from trail to Vernazza
Dave on trail to Vernazza
It’s starting to get a little more challengin going to Vernazza
While we don’t condone the defacing of public property, we thought it was cool to see a sticker for Left Coast Brewing, a brewery we visited four years ago with friends who live in San Clemente
Coastline back to Corniglia from trail to Vernazza
View toward Monterosso from trail to Vernazza … the boat in the bottom center is one that goes between the various towns
Heading down the trail to Vernazza isn’t easy either … it can be steep, muddy, and slippery
Sailboats and a freighter in the sea off the coast of the trail to Vernazza
We were thrilled when we could finally see Vernazza with Monterosso in the background. The dark brown building is where tickets to use the trail are validated.
As we approached the restaurant, the bells in town began ringing. Maybe they were welcoming us to town after our strenuous hike.

After about two hours, about 2.12 miles, and elevation change of 397 ft from minimum to maximum, but not total elevation changes, we arrived at La Torre Ristorante in Vernazza. Our reservations were for 14:00, but we asked if we could be seated then and they obliged. For full disclosure, we decided that we didn’t want to walk back up to the restaurant at 14:00, so it’s good they let us change.

Vernazza from Ristorante La Torre
Who is that hanging on the deck of Ristorante La Torre in Vernazza
One of the seating areas at Ristorante La Torre in Vernazza

This restaurant was recommended by Matt and Carlee for its views and food. The restaurant exceeded our expectations on both accounts. Dave ordered the mixed fried seafood, which consisted of anchovies, calamari, shrimp, and fish. Linda ordered the mixed seafood grill, which had calamari, shrimp, fish filet, and a prawn (though it had a claw, which seemed odd). We, too, would recommend it to anyone visiting Vernazza.

Grilled Seafood at Ristorante La Torre in Vernazza
Fried mixed seafood at Ristorante La Torre in Vernazza
Plating at Ristorante la Torre
Chef making Spaghetti di Mare at Ristorante di Torre
Spaghetti di Mare at Ristorante La Torre

After lunch we walked into Vernazza. What a fun little town. It is the weekend, so there are way too many people in town for our likes, but it was still a great place. The boats throughout the town were a treat and the waterfront was nice.

If you remember the cart we took a picture of earlier, you can see a person driving one in this video in the terraced farms of Vernazza
Architecture in Vernazza
Shopping in Vernazza
Hustle and bustle of Vernazza and the relaxation on the steps
Street scene in Vernazza
Street scene in Vernazza
Church of Saint Margherita of Antioch – old church, quite rustic
Street scene by harborfront in Vernazza
St. Margaherita of Antioch Church in Vernazza
Waterfront area of Vernazza
Baots lined up by the waterfront in Vernazza
Laundry day in Vernazza
Altar in St. Margherita of Antioch Church in Vernazza
A very rustic feel to St. Margherita of Antioch Church in Vernazza
Time for something new, a Limoncello Spritz
Check out that Limoncello Spritz
While not clear, the hole in the rock opens to the sea
Looks like laundry day for someone in Vernazza

We then walked back to the train station and boarded a train, with lots of other tourists, to Monterosso by the Sea. This area more sprawling and because of how tired we were, we probably didn’t give it the attention it deserved. It feels more like a resort town to us and there is a very nice beach area that was in use today, even with temperatures only in the upper 60s to low 70s. But, it was warm in the sun (and in the water too, based upon the number of people in the sea). Oh, we were able to find a gelato shop … we know you are surprised. Linda had a scoop of Salty Caramel and a scoop of Mascarpone Caramel and Hazelnut. Dave had a scoop of Stracciatella Mediteranea and a scoop of Crema 5 Terre. All four were excellent.

Street scene and beach in Monterosso
Waterfront in Monterosso
We can’t figure out what that structure on top is – Monterosso
Beach in Monterosso
Cool rock in sea at Monterosso
Sea front in Monterosso
Seafront in Monterosso

Boarding the train, we left Monterosso and headed back to Corniglia. It was about 16:00, so it seemed like a good time for a break

For dining tonight, we ate our left-over meats and cheeses and got a sausage pizza from the pizzeria across the street from our apartment. We enjoyed everything and it was important to get rid of the leftovers, since we will be heading out tomorrow. For a special treat tonight, we watched “L.A. Confidential”. It was a nice relaxing night.

Sausage pizza from pizzeria across the street from our apartment in Corniglia
One last sunset in Corniglia

If you would like to see more detail of the pictures in this post, you can click here: 2022-10-01 Corniglia-Vernazza-Monterosso.

Three down, two to go

Let’s start with a couple of pictures to update you on our apartment here in Corniglia.

This ladder is three stories up from the ground below to harvest the lemons outside our apartment in Corniglia.
To help explain yesterday’s down step to go up steps, this is what we meant. The entrance to our apartment building is at the top of the stairs going up.

Well, the weather finally caught up with us.  When we woke up this morning, we were hopeful that the rain was going to pass us by. It was supposed to rain overnight, but the cars outside were dry. By the time we left about 1-1/2 hours later, it was markedly cooler, it had drizzled, and the clouds still looked menacing. Nonetheless, what can you do?  We have four other towns to see in the next two days.  Let’s head south and east to Riomaggiore and Manarola today.

While the same view as yesterday, the sea and sky are not as friendly.

We made the decision to walk down to the train station. While easier than the notion of going up the stairs, it is still 33 flights of stairs with a total of 382 stairs. The walk, however, was beautiful, even with the gray skies. We arrived at the train station and got on the train about 10 minutes later. We took the train to “the end” and got off at Riomaggiore.

View from our descent on the stairs to the Corniglia train station. Note the blue of the sea.
Dave on the stairs to train station

We exited the train station and started up the hill that led into town. Much of the climb up the hills was through residential areas, causing us to wonder where the commercial area was. Of course, before we could get there, we encountered our first church of the day, Basilica of San Giovanni, (yes, there will be more later). This one is located high on the hills, so it is quite visible. It is very well maintained and drew quite a crowd.

First stop, Rimaggiore
What once was the wall around Riomaggiore (to the right is where the flat way to town is located)
Next time we come, we want to stay at this place
Next time we come, we want to stay at this place (hopefully in better weather)
Selfie in Riomaggiore (it was a day for glasses .. different ones for Dave)
Hillside homes in Riomaggiore
Hillside homes with Basilica San Giovani in the middle of the picture in Riomaggiore
Hillside homes in Riomaggiore … the white structure at the top with a church in front of it is the Riomaggiore Cemetery
Basilica San Giovani
Altar and apse in Basilica San Giovanni
Sanctuary of Basilica San Giovani
Side altar in Basilica San Giovani
Side altar area in Basilica San Giovani
Carvings on sanctuary pulpit at Basilica San Giovani
This “statue” of Madonna del Carmine wins the award for the creepiest religious artifact we’ve seen

We continued our walk and came upon our second church (dang, there are a lot of them). Linda chose to check out her map to see if she could find a place for gelato (before you start judging, it’s never too early for gelato). Dave went into the small church, Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta. While extremely small, it does have some very beautiful artistic elements.

Altar area in Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta
Altar in Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta
Stained glass windows and “crucifix” in Oratoria Santa Maria Assunta

After leaving the Oratoria, Dave met Linda on the street and we began our walk down hill, now, into town. As we walked, Dave pointed out a gelato store. Linda just looked at him and he said, “You already knew that, didn’t you?” Well, yes, she did. So, we stopped and got gelato. Today it was blueberry and peach for Dave and pistachio and chocolate-hazelnut for Linda. It was 11:30, after all, and we didn’t really have breakfast.

We proceeded down the hill and looked in a few more stores at clothing, ceramics, and other items. We also started to encounter heavy drizzle. When we reach the end of the street, we were below Piazza del Vignaiolo. This piazza is just above the marina and afforded a nice view. Unfortunately, with the weather conditions, not much was happening in the area.

Commercial area of Rio Maggiore
Small marina area from Piazza del Vignaiolo in Riomaggiore
Small marina area from Piazza del Vignaiolo in Riomaggiore
View to commercial area from Piazza del Vignaiolo in Riomaggiore
View to hillside homes from Piazza del Vignaiolo in Riomaggiore

We then realized that instead of heading back up the hill, we could walk through a short tunnel and be back at the train station. It made us think we should have come this way, but we still would have had to go up the hill at some point to see things. One special thing about the tunnel was the mosaic work done on one of the walls.

Mosaic pedestrian tunnel on way to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Mosaic wall in pedestrian tunnel to Riomaggiore train station
Video of walking through Riomaggiore pedestrian tunnel

Once back at the train station, the rain had increased quite a bit. We took cover beneath an overhang until we boarded the next train to Manarola.

A full display of graffiti, train and tunnel

The train ride to Manarola is quite short, maybe three minutes, though the conductor did make it through our car to check tickets for people.

When we exited the train in Manarola, we took another pedestrian tunnel toward the city. We had decided we would have lunch a one of the restaurants here, Trattoria del Billy. Linda looked up the location on her phone using Google Maps, but we lost connectivity in the tunnel. As we exited the tunnel, the rain started to pour harder. Dave found an overhang and stood under it to get our umbrellas out of the backpack. We then started off following Linda’s directions. She had trouble with her phone, again, Dave checked his phone, and we continued in the rain. Part of the walk/hike to the restaurant was up stairs that had so much water running down them it looked like a waterfall. Linda’s shoes and feet got soaked (Dave was lucky that his hiking shoes are waterproof). Well, Dave missed a turn and we needed to double-back and head up some more stairs.  The five-minute walk that Google mapped out took closer to 15 minutes in the pouring rain. When we got to the restaurant, we found that they were full. Another couple just in front of us took the last table.  We decided we would wait for the next table because it had good ratings and we hated for this crazy walk to be a bust!  During our 15-minute wait (Linda inside and Dave outside), the weather got so bad that the wind and rain chased many of the outside diners out of the restaurant. Fortunately, a couple left their inside seats and we were able to sit there. We were glad we waited. The service and food were amazing. We started with a half-bottle of red wine (we know, not perfect for fish, but we did white with meat last night … lol) and place our orders. For a starter we had anchovies marinated in lemon and oil. Having spent our lives making sure there were no anchovies on our pizzas, this was a pleasant surprise (thanks to Matt and Carlee for suggesting we have these). For our main meals, Linda had the traditional Trofie pasta with pesto sauce, potatoes, and green beans; Dave had Taglierini with fruits of the sea (clams, mussels, one-half of a small crab, razor clam, two types of shrimp) in an olive oil, garlic, and wine sauce. Both meals were well beyond our expectations. Dave ended the meal with a caffe latte. Linda ended hers by buying a bottle of cream balsamic vinegar that they had on the table (needless to say, it was very tasty).

The waterfall, otherwise known as the staircase we were climbing
It’s important to have a good slogan
Anchovies marinated in lemon at Trattoria del Billy
Interior of Trattoria del Billy
The open area to the right of the server is a dumbwaiter from the kitchen upstairs used to send down orders
Trofie with pesto sauce, potatoes, and green beans
Spaghetti in oil, garlic, wine sauce with mussels, clams, razor clam, crab, two types of shrimp, and squid
Raxor clam and shell

We asked the best way to the train station and, amazingly, it was the opposite direction of how we came up. He also said it would put us right in the church square.  He said we couldn’t possibly get lost and he was right. It is the San Lorenzo Church which was built in the fourteenth century and is in need of repair.

San Lorenzo Church in Manarola
Altar in San Lorenzo Church
Disrepair in San Lorenzo Church – we felt compelled to make a donation to assist in the restoration

There were few stairs and mostly gradual roads. Once back to the train we headed back to Corniglia. It was time for a little down time out of the rain.

Houses and terraced gardens in Manarola
Commercial area of Manarola
Commercial area of Manarola
Peninsula in Manarola

After a little rest, we headed back out at about 7:30. We were amazed at how desolate the town was. There were very few people on the street. On top of that we tried to cancel our reservation for dinner tomorrow night and found the restaurant closed. We really don’t get it; most of the restaurants were closed. It is Friday night, right? Lucky for us, one of the gelaterias was still open so we could, for the first time on this trip, get gelato a second time in the same day. Dave got salted caramel and vanilla with figs, local wine, and pine nuts while Linda got vanilla with Corniglia honey and a chocolate nut.

Around 21:30 some street noise picked up. There were some children playing and we could hear some men having an “Italian” conversation. You know, the kind that is friendly, but it’s loud.

It was time to start thinking about tomorrow. If all goes as planned, we will hike from Corniglia to Vernazza in the morning and then take the train to Monterosso al Mare.

More detailed pictures can be found here: 2022-09-30 Corniglia-Riomaggiore-Manarola

Wow, that was quick Siena; looking forward to Cinque Terre

After finishing yesterday’s Siena blog, Dave left to find some breakfast breads. Our host left peach jam and milk for coffee so we ate at the house.

We should have included this yesterday. This is the courtyard outside our Siena Airbnb (our apartment is where the wooden doors in the center-left are

We left for the 20-minute walk to the train station, including five long levels of moving walkways/escalators, and quickly found our train platform. As usual in the Tuscan region of Italy, Siena is a bit hilly. Dave was particularly annoyed when our train left nearly 20 minutes late and we only had a 14-minute connection for the next train. It turns out we made up a little time and between the last two stations our next train lost time, so it worked out okay. Lots of stops and a couple of trains later, we arrived in Corniglia (part of Cinque Terre).

Communities along train line
We were afraid we wouldn’t see a church today
Some significant graffiti in the La Spezia train station
travel can be tough these days
Vire from Train
Between Riomaggiore and Manarola
Between Riomaggiore and Manarola
Between Riomaggiore and Manarola

It was not raining here which was a pleasant surprise. We left the Corniglia train station and took the bus up to town because it just felt like too much elevation to walk with two suitcases and two backpacks. Picture Dave when we do the train – he takes the suitcases whenever we go up or down stairs and onto the train, including lifting them up to the storage area over our seats. We should be in great shape when we return home!

Following a video that our host sent us on WhatsApp, we made our way from the bus stop to our apartment. It was all uphill, of course, except for the steps down to the steps up to the apartment building. We had a little confusion about which unit was ours. It was a first floor versus floor zero thing, though this time first floor meant first floor.  The apartment is nice and we have some good views.

Corniglia apartment – kitchen
Corniglia apartment – living area with bathroom on left and bedroom on right
Corniglia apartment – Bathroom
Corniglia apartment – Bedroom
Corniglia apartment – View from balcony
Corniglia apartment – view from living room
Corniglia apartment balcony from city center

We found the town to be very busy and very small. We knew that by 20:00, the tourists would vacate the area. Many of them seemed to be here for the day because you could hear them saying, “Okay, well, we saw 4 out of 5 of the Cinque Terre towns”. Corniglia is in the center of this much-hiked place and because they have no harbor, it is the quietest. And, that is why we chose it.

View from Corniglia city central

We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so at 17:00 we looked for a place to have a glass of wine and discuss our plans for the three days we’ll be here. Tomorrow may be a wash-out due to forecasted rain, but it won’t stop us from seeing all five of these towns. They each seem to have their own particular focus, but the charm of each one is something we don’t want to miss. We have two to the northwest and two to the southeast.

Dave enjoying his wine and aperitivo

After a half-liter of wine and salty snacks at Caffe Matteo, thinking we would have pasta, Linda nixed the plan and went Italian on us! Dave was a good sport about it as we made our way to Lisa’s Market (one of three small grocery markets in Corniglia) to buy milk, crackers, two deli meats, two deli cheeses, some small Roma tomatoes, and a few green olives. The meat was prosciutto and local salame; the cheese was pecorino and local cow’s cheese. We stopped at another market and bought a bottle of local white wine and had them open it for us in case we had no wine-opener. He did not seem to think that this was a strange request!

Young man at market helpin us to open our bottle of wine (he’s not a Yankee fan; this is just stuff I got as a gift from a friend in New York)
Nice sunset in Corniglia

Back at the house, Linda prepared a platter of all the goodies, Dave found the wine glasses and we sat on the balcony in view of the sunset to enjoy the evening. Everything outside quieted down, just as we expected. It got a bit chilly, so we retreated inside to watch the BBC news (first English-speaking TV of the trip) and work on the blog.

Tonight’s do it yourself dinner – crackers, prosciutto, local cow cheese, local salami, tomatoes, pecorino cheese, olives
Dinner on apartment balcony
Beautiful sunset in Corniglia
Sunset in Corniglia
Corniglia sunset
One last look at the sunset in Corniglia