I arrived in La Spezia on May 16th, trained over to Manorola and checked into my AirBnB. First off, I love this place. I’ve been stoked about this for my whole trip and I love it. That said, as soon as I was in the door, I refilled my bottle, threw my boots on and headed out for a hike. One of the property managers said it was 2-3 hours to the next town (Corniglia). Sweet, I thought. Nice little walk. I grabbed a lemon sorbetto cone from down the street and off I went up a set of stairs. Except… it didn’t end. Like… ever. It was a near-continuous set of stairs for about 45 minutes. I’m thinking it was 500-600m of elevation gain straight up the side of the cliff, fully exposed at mid-day heat and humid as balls. My sorbetto vaporized and I was dripping like a faucet the whole way up. There was a couple old people in sandles with no water part way up just sitting on the steps, contemplating the intelligence of their decisions. Poor bastards. Aren’t we all just suckers. I forced myself to smile and remember where I was by looking back at the twinkling bay behind me, and the vineyards and lemon trees through which I was hiking. As a reward for the completing the surprise workout, there’s a nice little cathedral and cafe at the top (dunno how the F these people get their groceries or whatever). I enthusiastically knocked back an espresso and jogged off down the other side. For the hour long stretch of path that contours the top of the cliffs, the views were astonishing. My destination was also in sight nearly the whole way across and down, and it was very cool to see and hear the town be brought to life as I approached.
Hot, damp, and rather unpresentable feeling, I grabbed a corner table in an empty cafe in Corniglia and had the best damn sandwich and ice cold local craft brew. Dave, if you’re reading this, this was the sort of sandwich we had always aspired to create. It’s also great to know that there’s some Italians who really know their way around a good Belgian ale! I caught the train back to Manorola and treated myself to a decent dinner before sitting on some rocks (sort of a rugged, volcanic “beach”) to watch the sun set.
The next day I met up with 4 new friends from the bus to hike the “Blue Trail” from Corniglia, through Vernazza, to Monterosso. Not nearly as challenging as my little hike from the day before, but still about 3 hours and change in total. Or would have been. These kids are a riot and wanted to stop in Vernazza to split a jug of sangria. At this point in the day, I could not really say no to something icy cold, sugary, and boozey. We definitely had more of a spring in our step for the last leg of the hike. Again, the views were fantastic and we treated ourselves to a respectable pile of beers in Monterosso.
It was then that we thought it would be a good idea to carry on with the bar crawl and get a drink in the other 3 towns as well. A 5 town bar crawl! We called up another couple from the bus and did just that! It finished off back in Corniglia on a killer rooftop patio with a bottle of vodka and another sunset. We all split up into different journeys in the morning so it was a fun way to say goodbye. Off to Como in the morning. Mr Clooney won’t return my emails though so I’ll have to make other friends.