Each town is unique and has a different sort of personality. From top to bottom they are: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Previously I had only seen Riomaggiore twice and Monterosso briefly as a student. On our day trip, we got up early in Lucca and took the trains up to Vernazza. Stunning! Such a charming and winding little town. We then decided to hike South to Corniglia, which was pretty daunting. Stairs after stairs after more stairs cutting into the mountainside with the most incredible views of the coastline and the Mediterranean.
After about an hour hike, we reached Corniglia! We got a quick limone granita and headed to the train. Once in the next town, Manarola, we picked out a spot along the harbor and swam, sketched and even jumped off some crazy high rocks in the harbor. Afterwards we took the train to Riomaggiore for a quick look around before we had to catch our train back to Lucca. I managed to get a quick watercolor of the harbor in before sprinting back to the train station 4 minutes before the train was leaving! Worth it.
1. Vernazza at the start of the trail South. You can see Monterosso in the distance up above
2. Bougainvillea up above the harbor in Vernazza
3. Curious locals keeping an eye on the new hoard of tourists
4. Steep, winding staircases make for perfect napping places for kitties
5. Mediterranean waters at last!
6. Corniglia in the distance! And a long way down to the water...
7. I'm a sucker for bougainvillea. This lovely bunch was in Manarola
8. The harbor in Manarola, aka our swimming spot for the day!
9. Manarola in watercolor
10. My favorite town Riomaggiore (Vernazza is now a close second). Quickly caught all the colors and buildings and ran back to the station! Not bad for 45 minutes.