the cinque terre: monterosso al mare

We left our “piano apartment” at 8:30 after enjoying a breakfast of yogurt, raspberries, granola, coffee and blood orange juice. After getting the two-day Cinque Terre pass, we took the train from La Spezia to the furthest and largest of the five towns, Monterosso al Mare. It seemed so pleasant and uncrowded when we were on the train and when we first stepped off into the new town, Fegina.

On the train, an African guy sat jangling a bunch of coins from one hand to the other, over and over, until an Italian guy asked him to stop.  Sitting across from us was a young woman with tightly curled blonde hair, very cute, and a light-skinned black man with a smattering of facial hair and modern ear pods.  The blonde seemed quite enamored of her boyfriend.  She kept staring into his eyes dreamily, while he returned her gaze only half-heartedly. He was a bit more aloof, but she persisted until he become engrossed in his music, when her infatuation was disrupted.

Stretched out along the Mediterranean Sea, Monterosso’s new town was quite cute, with beachfront cafes, boats with blue and white striped covers, beach umbrellas and lounge chairs set in a half-moon curve on the glittering beach. Monterosso is the only Cinque Terre town with a proper stretch of beach. Part of Liguria, an area known as the Italian Riviera, it is famous for its anchovies and lemon trees.


Monterosso al Mare’s new town


me on the beach at Monterosso al Mare


beach at Monterosso al Mare


beach at Monterosso al Mare


beach at Monterosso al Mare


breakwater at Monterosso al Mare


stones on the breakwater


view of Monterosso al Mare from the breakwater


Monterosso al Mare

We wandered around a bit until we paused on a bench and studied the map.  We saw we needed to go further, over the San Cristoforo promontory, to the old town, Centro Storico.

On the rocky path, we passed some hotels, a seaside castle and a statue of St. Francis of Assisi with a wolf, and then climbed steeply up to the Convento dei Cappuccini, or Church of the Capuchin Friars, a former monastery.


beach at Monterosso al Mare


on the path to the old town


on the path to the old town


Ligurian Sea


grotto on the path


looking back at Monterosso’s new town


seaside castle


statue of St. Francis of Assisi with a wolf

The Chiesa di San Francesco, dating from 1623, had a striped Romanesque facade and a high altarpiece painting of St. Francis. A painting of the crucifixion to the left of the altar is attributed to Anthony van Dyck, the 17th century Flemish master, but I didn’t get a picture.

Then we walked uphill to a cemetery that fills a ruined castle.  In the Dark Ages, the village huddled within this castle.  This is the oldest part of Monterosso.

In the old town, there was a partial breakwater (a row of giant rocks in the middle of the harbor), designed to save the beach from washing away.  We stopped at a little cafe for cappuccino and Mike got a croissant.  A group of local old men were chatting and laughing loudly, having a grand time. I love the happy sing-song sound of the Italian language, with its emphasized “ay” sounds at the ends of words.  It sounds convivial and joyous.


old town of Monterosso al Mare


old town of Monterosso al Mare


old town of Monterosso al Mare


old town of Monterosso al Mare


old town of Monterosso al Mare


laundry in Monterosso al Mare


old town of Monterosso al Mare


old town of Monterosso al Mare


beach in the old town of Monterosso al Mare


beach in the old town of Monterosso al Mare

We then took a walk through the old town where, almost immediately, I came upon a scarf shop and bought three scarves for 25€.

We walked past the Church of St. John the Baptist (Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista), with its typical Romanesque-style facade of white marble from Carrara and green marble from Punta Mesco. The marble stripes get narrower the higher they go, making the church appear taller than it really is.  Inside were Ligurian Gothic original marble columns with matching pointed arches. The church dates from 1307.


Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista


Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista

We wandered for a while around the town, then began our hike to Vernazza, which I’ll write about in a future post. 🙂


view of Monterosso from path to Vernazza


view of Monterosso from path to Vernazza


view of Monterosso from path to Vernazza


view of the Ligurian Sea from path to Vernazza

(Half day) *Saturday, April 27, 2019*


On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.

This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Magnificent Marvão.