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