Italy: La Dolce Vita

1157797_Italy_250.jpgThere really is no other country quite like Italy. The music, the food,
the art, the history, the architecture, the language and the people all
exude the good life. Just reminiscing about the Italian countryside is
pleasurable; being there, immersing oneself in the beauty and culture,
defies description. And one area, in particular, tops the list for
outdoorspeople of every ilk: Parco Nazionale Delle Cinque Terra

 

The Cinque Terra area of the Italian Riviera is beyond breathtaking. The
lush green mountains meld into the turquoise waters of the
Mediterranean. The five (cinque) historic fishing villages, with
their pastel-hued row houses, hug the hills. Vineyards, olive groves and
wildflowers blanket the terraced terrain, creating a landscape so rich
and unique that it has been deemed placement on UNESCO’s World Heritage
List.

Accessible by road or rail, the villages are a couple hours
south of Genoa via the A12 Autostrada; however, if you choose to drive
your rental “caravan,” be careful on the tight and winding roads, and
leave it outside of your first town. Don your hiking boots and enjoy
several hours of spectacular scenery as you make your way above the
villages of Monterosso, Manorolo, Carniglia, Vernozza and Riomaggio.

Hikers must obtain a Cinque Terra Card at one of the park
visitor centers within each of the towns. Cards are available for one,
three or seven days, and allow travelers unlimited access to the train
between Levanto (to the north) and LaSpezia (to the south), access to
all park buses and entrance to all trails and observation centers. The
park service also offers bicycle and horseback riding trips at
reasonable fees. It’s wise to always check into the status of the trails
before setting out, and to wear appropriate shoes and clothing. The
Cinque Terre National Park is a protected area that is home to religious
artifacts, historic tools and buildings, a Protected Marine Area and a
Sea Mammal Sanctuary. A museum is also under construction.

Each of the five villages within the Cinque Terra area clings
to its special identity, following the precepts of sustainable tourism,
which protects the past, present and future needs of the town and its
people. This is a community, one of more than 1,000 years old that was
built by proud farmers, and “where civilization is culture.” More than 8
million cubic meters of dry stone walls create this unique landscape
that is ours to visit, enjoy and cherish.

For more information, go to http://www.5terre.com, or send an e-mail to [email protected].

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