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