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Golden Day Eighty-Two: Vernazza

October 23, 2012

Andi Brown’s Once in a Lifetime blog sparkles with her lively passion for Italy. You’ll always find stunning photos there, and she covers the range of Italian experiences from recipes to rock bands, to one of her recent posts, that had me nodding along and smiling: Top 10 Cheap Thrills in Italy

Though Andi’s traveled all over the globe, she has always been drawn back to Italy. She brings her love and decades of experience traveling there to her Consultation Service, where she customizes Italian travel itineraries, designing fabulous trips to fit any budget, giving visitors the chance to experience authentic Italy–from family run businesses, to cooking classes, to wine tastings.

I’m so grateful to have her join in to share her thoughts on a Golden Day in a beloved place in the Cinque Terre: Vernazza…

Vernazza is no longer a backdoor, undiscovered place.  It gets down right crowded during the day in tourist season.  A few years ago I questioned why I was there that first busy day. 
Then evening began to fall, day trippers and hikers disappeared.  Vernazza became my Vernazza again, the one I fell in love with almost twenty years ago.

I love waking up in the town, seeing the harbor, and even walking up to the cemetery at the top of the village.  It’s probably a bit morbid, but there are so many unanswered stories, so much history and so much sameness in our humanity through loss.

Like so many who visit the Cinque Terre, I enjoy hiking. My route is Vernazza to Monterosso–it’s less steep going in that direction,  and the cool of the morning is perfect hiking weather. From Monterosso, I’ll train to Riomaggiore and finish with a leisurely stroll down the Via dell’Amore–that stretch is super easy and paved.
If you go, remember to bring a sharpie to sign the wall or a padlock if traveling with your lover…grafitti is much encouraged here! Mine is by the octopus.

(Yikes! As I wrote this, a huge rock slide injuring hikers has shut down Via dell’Amore–read more about it here.  I know they will work hard to repair, but I don’ t have any idea when it will reopen. …Always check for trail closures before heading out!)

From Riomaggiore, I’ll train back to Vernazza. Right at the Vernazza train station is my favorite caffe, The Blue Marlin (Via Roma 43)–great for espresso or beer.  It’s not what you would expect to find in this little village–it’s got an energetic vibe, always filled with young people.

Or, I might treat myself for gelato at Porto Dody Gelateria Artiginale (also on Via Roma).  It’s a sentimental favorite–the owner died during the last year’s flooding while helping to save his family.

In the evening, I love to take the Vernazza to Monterosso walk again, as the sun is fading, just to the top of town for amazing views.  There is an area with a romantic view and a bench to enjoy it.

Here are a few of my favorite places for dinner:
Trattoria da Sandro (Via Roma, 0187 812223).  This amazing place, just re-opened after being badly damaged in last year’s flooding. Have the octopus salad for a starter, then either the Troffie al Pesto or the ravioli with walnut cream sauce.

Pizzeria Vulnetia.  This is our go-to place for good pizzas. It’s a fun place with friendly service–unless you are a crabby snob, they don’t have patience for that!  Order THE best tegame alla Vernazza (potatos, tomatos and fresh anchovies). Giuliano has been serving us there for years.

For romance, reserve a table at Ristorante al Castello (Via Guidoni 56, 0187 812296), on the edge with cliff side views.  I had an amazing pasta and shell fish dish here.  It’s a strong family restaurant with guarded family recipes.

Stay overnight or you risk missing the beauty, charm and soul of this place.
Okay, it’s not that easy. There are No Real Hotels Here BUT…. Martina Callo rents several rooms. The very top room, #3, (up something like 79 stairs) has its own terrace and a view that makes you reluctant to head back down all those stairs.  Her website is pretty marginal at www.roomartina.com

Giuliano Basso had rooms that I loved but they were destroyed in the flooding and I honestly don’t know if they will reopen by next season.  I’m heartbroken, he built the B&B by hand, each stone laid down with such a love and passion.

Finally, I encourage travelers to help bring back Vernazza, as the residents still work to rebuild it from the devastation of last October’s flooding, that buried the town in 13 feet of mud and debris, killing 3 residents.  I have loads of info on my blog about what happened and how you can help. Here are some photos from SaveVernazza that show how far the town has come…

Grazie mille Andi–for lots of inspiration to return to Vernazza!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2012 9:25 pm

    I have many lovely memories of Vernazza and Monterosso, and the other villages of C.T. I was happy to revisit this past summer with my children, and we were pleased to see such Incredible progress this community made is such a short time after the flood.
    This place is Heaven on Earth!!!

  2. October 29, 2012 2:43 pm

    Lovely and heartfelt! You truly do describe the beauty of the area in a way that touches the soul. Great job!

  3. October 23, 2012 2:14 pm

    Thank you Susan and Andi!

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