I took the train from Venice via Florence and arrived at the first village in Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore. After walking through a fairly long tunnel, I found myself on the main street through the village. I was staying at a place called Mar-Mar and their office was just up on the left. I knew I had arrived right at lunch time and expected to wait until the office reopened. But, being that it’s a small village, the staff had left my key and directions to my room posted on the office door. You’d never be able to get away with that most places but that was my first inclination that I had arrived in a great little town. After walking up two narrow alleyways, I passed an elderly gentleman who said “Ciao Bella!” in the most genuine and non-cliche tone. I arrived at my place, and my instructions said I could take any available bed. After walking through the three bedroom apartment, I realized that every bed was empty. I had the place to myself!
I set down my stuff, and threw open the shutters in the kitchen: what an incredible view! I grabbed my camera, left the apartment, and headed down a set of stairs through another tunnel that opens up to Riomaggiore’s harbor. If you’ve seen a postcard of Cinque Terre, more often than not, it’s of this spot. The multicolored houses with the cliffs in the background makes for a dramatic view. I snapped some photos, talked to several study abroad students, and then just sat to take in the locals. There was a boat coming into the harbor with the day’s catch, a couple of people just fishing from the rocky shore, and two small restaurants preparing for their evening patrons. There was even a cat that I fell in love with, sitting on one of the boats and constantly sniffing the air, waiting for the fisherman to pull up to shore and share a bite of fish! The weather was beautiful. After coming from snow and wind in Venice, the sunshine felt like an addiction, and I soaked up all that I could. Even with such good weather, it was not crowded at all. My first night in Riomaggiore, I maybe came across 10 tourists. 10! Like I mentioned in my previous post, this place is underrated. The hostel worker back in Venice had never even heard of Cinque Terre, and it was true of many travellers I spoke to while in Italy.
Being on my backpacker budget, I made a stop in the local store and picked up, of course, some pasta (tortellini to be exact) and strolled back to my apartment, where I spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to get the stove to light!