Friday, August 10, 2007

July 2007 - Corniglia, Italy - Hilltop "Land" of Wine

While the Via dell'Amore from Riomaggiore to Manarola was a 20-minute, essentially level, paved trail, wide and easy enough to do with a baby stroller, the trail from Manarola to Corniglia is more than twice as long, steeper, more rugged, and narrower.

Much of the trail runs over low cliffs along the coast, providing dramatic view of the mountainous coastline,
the crashing waves, and traces of the now-distant town of Manarola peaking out over the rocky promontory that we walked around not long ago.

About halfway along the trail, looking to the west, we can see just the rooftops of the town of Corniglia perched atop the steep, tree-topped promontory that juts out from the mountainous coast.
The trail was a lot more interesting than the Via dell'Amore, even including a short, wood-planked suspension bridge spanning a particularly rugged stretch of the coast.

Corniglia - the only one of the five towns not on the water and without a harbor - is the quietest, least visited, and most remote town. The last stretch of the hike involves corkscrew stairs up to the top of the hill that is capped by Corniglia. Once we reached the top of those stairs and looked up the narrow street, we saw what appeared to be a medieval church but actually is the Oratory of Santa Caterina (a spiritual clubhouse for a service group doing social work in the name of the Catholic Church), fronting the town's main square.
Here we are in the middle of the tiny main square.
From here, we wandered through the town's quaint streets, under zig-zagging clothes lines and past tourist shops and enotecas (wine shops), selling the town's famous wine. The ancient residents of Corniglia, founded by a Roman farmer who named the town after his mother, produced a wine that became so famous that vases found at Pompeii, over 1000 miles to the south, supposedly tout its virtues. The same wine is still produced today and remains the town's lifeblood.
The narrow streets lead to this second square fronted by another church-like building, which we believe actually is a church though we did not enter it.
Instead, we climbed up the stairs to its right and reached this amazing look-out point, the Santa Maria Belvedere, named for a church that once stood here. From here, in addition to the shimmering blue and green sea, you can see Manarola.

You also have a great view of the town's rooftops and the Oratory we came upon initially.

This is a spot for a picnic . . . or a nap, as this kitty clearly demonstrated.

We hung out up here for awhile, on a bench under a tree, watching him stir in his slumber every now and then, and enjoying the breeze, cooler temperature and spectacular sea view.

Later that afternoon, after grabbing a snack in town and taking a few more photos, we continued west towards the fourth town and our home base, Vernazza.

No comments: