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  Cornell University

Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Cinque Terre

This past weekend, five friends and I went for an excursion to Cinque Terre, a series of five villages on the coast of Northern Italy.  At 6AM, we departed from our apartments to Roma Termini for the 3-hour train ride towards La Spezia, after which we took another regional train to the northernmost village, finally arriving at Monterosso around 11AM. The regional train ride from the main station offered us glimpses towards the beautiful and blue coast and all of us were excited to finally get on our feet to explore.

First of all, the landscape of Cinque Terre is absolutely gorgeous and charming. Carved into the steep cliffs of the surrounding hillsides are these colorful, terraced houses that look out towards the sea. With a choice between sandy and pebbly, the beaches seem to be the number one reason why people flock to this beautiful place. Monterosso is the biggest of the five villages, so the main beach that lies in front of the town felt quite commercial and was lined with umbrellas. Nevertheless! Walking through the narrow streets of the old town was really nice because it was shaded, breezy, and lined with quaint little shops of little souvenirs and colorful figurines. We wandered around the old town for a bit before taking the train to the second village, Vernazza.

Vernazza is the post card emblem of Cinque Terre, and rightfully so. The same colorful homes cling to the cliffs while a small harbor nestles right under the steps of the town. Castello di Doria, an ancient castle, stands magnificently on top of a cliff overlooking the town, the Vernazza harbor, and panoramic scenery of the Italian Riviera. After lunch, we headed towards a lovely beach off to the side of the town. The water was not too cold and very clean, and there were many large boulders that were perfect to lie on.

With three more villages left and not so much time, we decided to split up between the people who wanted to walk to the next town, and the people who wanted to take the train to a farther town. I, naturally, went with those on the train. The remainder of our time was spent mainly meandering through more streets, sunbathing on a top of large boulders as we watched the sun slowly make its way down towards the horizon. It was exceptionally peaceful and at the same time lively. The water glistened and sparkled with an orange hue while people started to gather for dinner and others were helping to haul the boats out of the water. The scene was just breathtaking.

Alas, finally came the time to make our way back to the main train terminal, with which we started to panic when the regional train got delayed 10 minutes, then 20, then 25… until we only had 12 minutes before our train to Rome departed. Thankfully, many people were also trying to catch that train and it just took a mad scramble at the train terminal to find that this train was also, thankfully, delayed. Despite the beauty of Cinque Terre, getting back to Rome was a big relief. For some reason, we all missed the hustle and bustle of cars and modernity.


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