Eighteen years ago we fell in love with Italy.
We'd worked for a year in the UK and were flush with pounds and seeking some sunshine and fun. We had 6 weeks in spring time - travelling by train, exploring with no set plans - and yet we didn't make it south of Rome.
We learnt to drink espresso standing up, to defy the crazy traffic, to use our rudimentary Italian with a smile. We ate better than we'd ever done before - the gelati, the pizza, the risotto, the pasta - and we vowed never to try limoncello ever again.
So when we were planning this trip Italy was a must - and the Cinque Terre was near the top of the list.
Last time we walked between the 5 towns in a single day. Admittedly the coastal track was still in place (it was washed away in several places by the devastating floods of 2011) but I remember it being a big day with several hard climbs (and several stops for refreshment).
This time we based ourselves in Monterosso for 4 days. We did 3 sections of the walk over 2 days and had 2 quiet days on the beach and exporing the little towns.
Riomaggiore --> Manarolo (in the past an easy, flat 850m stroll - now a very steep climb along a path built for goats through tiny farms and vineyards). About an hour
Corniglia --> Vernazza An hour and a halfMonterosso -->Vernazza An hour and a half
The last section is the only one officially open at the moment - we were charged to enter the National Park here (less than 20 Euro for the family) and there were heaps more people on a very clearly marked track. All 3 sections were spectacular but did require gelati bribes at the next town to help the little legs up the steep bits (and they're very steep - these are not walks for the faint-hearted or the off-balance).
We fell in love all over again.
It won't be so long before we're back next time.