La Dolce Vita – Cinque Terre

Our train was late out of Varenna but that led to some interesting conversations with other travelers. Especially Alessandro who talked with us a long time – he is from a village near Varenna and now completing his batchelor’s degree at Univ of Milan. When we mentioned we had climbed to the castle at Varenna, he said “Varenna has a castle?” we pointed it out to him on the hill above where we were… Just like all places, the locals don’t go see the sights… Here is Alessandro on the train

Lunch was not so interesting – sandwiches sold on the train.

The trip went well despite having to take a later train out of Milan – on the train from Milan to Monterosso al Mare, we had a compartment of six seats to ourselves which was very nice. Bill did some reading on the train- I warched the scenery and slept some.

At first it looked a lot like the scenery at home and then it became hilly around us and we spent about half the time in long tunnels, the last 40 min or so of the three hour ride were along the Mediteranean punctuated by tunnels. Here is a not so good view out the dirty train window.

At Monterosso we caught a small local train to Manarola. Both towns are part of the Cinque Terre.

The directions to our hotel were “follow the road up to the church, then up the stairs by the tower. Wow, was it ever UP! The hotel La Torretta, is owned by a young man and his mother. It is a beautifully restored and decorated and perfectly executed small Spa/B&B high up above Mediterranean.

So picture you just arrived after 8 hrs of waiting for trains and traveling and climb the steep hill and stairs to check in. We were directed to sit on the terrace, given a glass of prosecco and a tray with strawberries and crackers with caviar while the owner opened the room and carried up our luggage (more steep stairs).

the view from the terrace…
We were told about the free activities – tomorrow is a hike and then free winetasting at a farm where everyone brings their grapes for pressing and processing – although it must not be everyone as we saw small presses at two houses on our walk up here.

Wow, the room kind of defies description and not sure the pictures do it justice either but here they are.

our room – we were upgraded to a better room since they were not full

Refrigerator is stocked with free coke, fanta and bottled water. Homemade cookies and a note on the kitchen table, iPod dock, plasma TV (which I could do without but Bill likes it), bathrobes, view out the window of the town and the sea…

Oh, and did I mention the decanter of fine whiskey? Seriously, I am not kidding and all for under $200 a night (low season still) Kevin, you should be here sipping whiskey with us!


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