Monday, May 23, 2011

The Cinque Terre

Two words.
Cinque Terre.
Five villages clustered along the coast of the Italian Riviera. The Ligurian Sea sits at the doorstep of it's rugged cliffs that jut into the sky.

Tourism here is bustling and booming thanks to travel guru Rick Steves. His book, considered the travel bible to many can be widely seen in the hands of the pilgrim tourist. While travel planning with my wife though, I'd often forget his name and end up calling him Rick James. You know, of "Super Freak" fame. No offense Rick.

If you come to Italy, you must come see this place. There's an expression they use to describe Cinque Terre; "Tra il cielo e la mare". Between the sky and the sea. It indeed looks like a place where God kissed the earth. A world entirely different in it's rythym from the fast paced Roma. We hiked up mountain sides to see remote villages, gawked at the terraces that shape the hillsides; chatted with the locals; drank it's red wines; dipped ourselves into the Mediterranean and passed along the Via Dell'Amore (the Love Walk) where youth through the years committed their love to one another in the language of grafitti.

Oh yeah. And we ate the food.
As they say in Italy, "Cuando mangia in Italia, se mangia bene". When you eat in Italy, you eat well. I cannot argue with that. In the Cinque Terre one eats pasta and fresh fish. One, the other or both. We had Spaghetti alla Scoglia; pasta with shrimp, mussels and clams. Very Mmm. At Manarola (one of the other villages) we had Taglierini with artichoke and shrimp. Taglierini is a type of ribbon pasta egg noodle. The pasta was tossed with artichokes and shrimp. Very good and very delicious. Did you know that shrimp have eyes and little legs? They do and you are not supposed to eat those parts.

For dinner we would go to the Panificio Rossi Bakery. If you stop by, say hi to Roberta. She's fun and helpful. We would pick up a loaf of her bread and stop at one of the local mercatos to purchase sliced Milanese salami and soft pecorino cheese. With that, their local olive oil and Cinque Terre red wine, we would sit at our outdoor terrace and mangiare as the sun said a reluctant goodbye to another day. Fantastico! Did I mention that we brought Jif Peanut Butter? To keep the costs down and have a little bit of home with us. Did I mention how great PB tastes overlooking the village of Riomaggiore and the endless sea? Not too bad!

One Special Meal
La Grota
Fresh Seabass. Caught that day. Eaten that day. Vanessa Signoretto served it to our table. She is part of the family that has owns this lovely restaraunt and specializes in family recipes for it's fare. La Grota is restored from a wine cellar dating back to the 300's. Vanessa was knowledgeable and helpful.
The dish was superb.

Our Special Accomodation
Cinque Terrace Locanda
We stayed here and loved the location. We were at the high part of town so after a meal in the village below, we only had 1,716 winding steps to climb up to our residence. A great way to walk off dinner. Well okay, maybe it was only 913 steps.
Carla is owner/operator and was a wonderful host. She along with Piero and her son Davide could not do enough for us. They made our stay awesome. One of our special treats while there was to enjoy appetizers with Carla and her family. Salami made from local wild pigs. Mozzarella made from Buffalo milk. And more. But getting to know them, hear their stories and laugh with them. Now that was the great part.

We are now in Perugia. But that's a story for next time. Thanks for tagging along with us.
And remember if you are thinking about dropping by the Cinque Terre, don't forget to pick up a copy of that travel guide book by Rick James.
I mean Steves.


Cinzia said...

Mario, wow, You'going to taste THE BEST OF ITALY, and I'm very happy ;)

Unknown said...

CINQUE TERRE!! My favorite place! So happy you made it there. This is so wonderful Mario - thank you for this post - brings back memories! I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip. :)

audrey denis said...

thank you mario for a tour of italy that some of us will never see. the food reports sound magnifico!

Unknown said...

thanks for sharing your experience! RICK JAMES haha.. i think i actually prefer him! I love the way you write your descriptions.. "buon proseguimento!"

Karolina said...

I am off to Italy in August. I can't wait! Also today I ordered "Two greedy Italians" cookbook, highly recommend TV series on BBC. I love Italian passion for food.

Thanks for stopping by, I am glad you visited my blog and hope to se you again, please consider following. It would be great to have you following along. :))))

María R. said...

Ciao Mario! Mi inglés es pésimo! Sólo pasé para dejarte un fuerte abrazo,y darte las gracias por pasarte por mi blog y comentar.Siempre bienvenido.

Saludos y bendiciones desde Argentina!

Anonymous said...

My goal is to make it to Italy and see all these places and eat that beautiful food!
Another wonderful post, Mario! Thank you for sharing!


Andie said...

I will sell all my stuff...xD

Yuki said...

Wow! Sounds you had so much fun in Italy!!!
Thank you for sharing beautiful pictures☆

Dhemz said...

oh my gosh! what a great place...can't wait to visit Italy soon...:) thanks for sharing....great to be here!

Adina said...

That's a place on my to see list...I love the way you write and I enjoy reading about your trip. The pasta dish looks so so inviting!

mary said...

Mario! have done it again!!! ...written a blog that is good enough to eat!! hee hee I feel like I have just been on a trip to Italy and while there experienced the best Italian cuisine ever eaten!! Ok...I am dying for a piece of Graziella's Zuppa Inglese right now!!
Cheers to you dear friend!!

lola said...

hola Mario, yo tambén comienzo el lunes a trabajar.Espero que tus vacacines fueran felices y lo pasaras muy bien.
Un beso y un abrazo