Magazine article Geographical

Cinque Terre: The Train to Levanto Runs through a Tunnel Whose Rock-Walls Are Pierced at Intervals by Windows onto the Blue Ligurian Sea. through These Windows, Passengers Are Taunted by Fleeting Glimpses of Their Destination: A Stretch of Beach; a Nodding Boat; a Sheer Cliff; a Waterfall of Wisteria

Magazine article Geographical

Cinque Terre: The Train to Levanto Runs through a Tunnel Whose Rock-Walls Are Pierced at Intervals by Windows onto the Blue Ligurian Sea. through These Windows, Passengers Are Taunted by Fleeting Glimpses of Their Destination: A Stretch of Beach; a Nodding Boat; a Sheer Cliff; a Waterfall of Wisteria

Article excerpt

Cinque Terre--the lands belonging to five cliff-villages that cling to the shorn-off end of the Apennines in northern Italy--is adored by Italians for its scenic isolation, for its wine and for Its seafood. At 50 kilometres, this isn't a walk to overstretch the diary. The paths that link the villages rise and fall like a rollercoaster, compensated by the menus that beckon from each trattoria.

Since the railway calls at most of the villages on the mute, roughly once an hour until midnight, weary hikers can cut short a day's walk, or double back to an earlier village for an evening meal in a favourite restaurant. Footpaths climb up behind the villages to the 800-metre ridge that runs parallel to the coast, providing the chance to mix coastal walking with loftier diversions.

What better place for a convivial spring hike? Bell-shaped flowers of wild-garlic brush the boots and the white petals of cherry blossom fall like snowflakes upon passing shoulders. In sunlit nooks lemons dangle like Christmas baubles and brooks beside the paths chatter with birdsong. Being a west-facing coast, all of the villages watch the sun set out to sea, but in Vernazza the framing of the sunset reaches perfection; it slips down In front of the cafe tables, funnelled into the depths by the enclosing arms of the twin headlands. …

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