On our second day in Cinque Terre, the weather was just perfect, it was sunny and a mild 26 degrees with the water being wonderful and calm.
Our plan was to walk the easy trail to Riomaggiore then train it back to Vernazza. Unfortunately, we found out that the trail was closed due to damage from a recent landslide so we decided to take a train to Vernazza and spend the day there. If we had time, we would also make our way to Riomaggiore. The trains between towns come so frequently, however very crowded from many tour groups doing day trips. The trip between towns cost us about 4€ each one way, but you can get a five town day card which we didn’t opt for given that we wanted to go at a relaxed pace with Harley.
We first had breakfast at Da Astride in Manarola, which has a small menu for breakfast We had the mushroom omelette and ham and cheese omelette which were both served with a little side salad and white bread. It was a simple and light breakfast.
We took the train to Vernazza and casually walked around the town checking out a few of the stores and then made our way up to the top of Castello Doria, which is the oldest surviving fort in Cinque Terre. Its 1.50€ entry per person and whilst it’s largely a ruin, once we climbed up the steep stairs with the entry from the harbour, the views are just spectacular. We climbed all the way to the top viewing tower and Harley happily napped as we took in the views. We stayed long enough to feed Harley and for her to have a catnap.
Being in the hot sun, we worked up our appetite and we made our way down to the Ristorante Belforte, another restaurant with many good reviews. We didn’t have A reservation, but they offered a glass of prosecco whilst we waited for table. After a 15 minute wait we were brought up the stairs to a table with incredible views of the ocean. We ordered the seafood spaghetti and the prawn with squid ink pasta with a beautiful Chianti red wine. The service was lovely and as usual they were so excited to greet Harley. It was great quality seafood and cooked well, but we preferred the flavours of Trattoria Da Billy. We relaxed and enjoyed the views. Once we made our way down to the harbour, we ordered gelato from the Gelateria on the harbour-front. We ordered the hazelnut and tiramisu which were delicious.
We made our way back to Manarola by train and freshened up before our pre-booked sunset tour which Lionel found through trip advisor.
Our host/captains name was Daniele Faggioni and we met in front go the Il Porticiollo restaurant at the harbour front at 6:30pm for a 6:45pm start. There were 8 others on the boat with us so it was a nice and fairly intimate group.
The tour lasted for 2.5 hours and we saw all five towns by sea, with the gorgeous sunset by 9pm. Harley loved being on the boat and enjoyed the company of everyone and seemed to be very curious with everything Daniele was telling us about the different towns. Daniele was born and raised in Manarola so it was such a nice way to get insight about the towns and you can feel the love he has for Cinque Terre. He was a fabulous host, very funny, friendly and happily answered our questions as well as giving rhetoric about the different towns as we went along. The tour was 60€ per person and also included wine, beer and non alcoholic drinks offered with no limit. We were so fortunate to have calm seas.
We sailed passed each town which was a beautiful way to see the dramatic facades of each and we stopped off for half an hour at Monterosso. Monterosso is the flattest of all five towns and has a huge beach front lined with umbrellas and deck chairs. We just had enough time to climb up to the statue of Saint Francis which had a stunning viewpoint of all five towns and the beautiful blue waters of the Ligurian sea. Harley had her bottle and fell asleep seemingly oblivious to the spectacular view. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to explore Monterosso.as much as we wanted to.
We left Monterosso and sailed out further to sea so we could get the best vantage point of the sunset. Daniele played some relaxing music and left us all to enjoy the drinks and view. Shortly after sunset we made our way back to Manarola.
We had a late dinner at Il Porticiollo and to were slightly disappointed. We ordered the seafood starter as an appetiser which included I think 12 bite sized seafood dishes cooked different ways. For mains we had the swordfish with vegetables and lobster and roasted veggies. The seafood was overcooked especially the swordfish, whilst the lobster was inconsistent. We were also extremely tired by that stage so I’m not sure if that also affected our perception of the taste of the food. We resolved that for the rest of the stay we would eat at Trattoria Da Billy at any chance.
Harley was exhausted but powered through dinner keeping happily occupied, chewing on bread. After dinner we made our way back on what felt like the longest walk in the world and after bath times all crashed.