Existing Member?

The Epicure Abroad

La Fine (e Il Vino)

ITALY | Sunday, 8 June 2014 | Views [1277]

The most perfect week of my life has come to a close and there’s a train ticket on my table with tomorrow’s date on it. I’m telling myself to get excited for Parma, my next travel destination and the beginning of my first ever solo backpacking trip, but leaving Cinque Terre feels like leaving home. In fact, departing from Manarola feels harder than leaving home because I don’t know when I’ll be back.


I’m afraid I’ll forget the little things. The way it smells here, like the sea, citrus, sun, soil – the same fragrances of California but a different perfume. The way people park their boats in front of their houses and hang their laundry out to dry. The way parents call their children amore, love, like a second name. The way gardeners leave the blossoms on the zucchini to sell at the market. The weight of the big, old-fashioned keys that open the wine cellar doors. The names of the wildflowers. The specific shade of pink paint on the houses. 

Part of me wanted to wallow in my preemptive nostalgia and spend the day sitting on my balcony, staring out at my stunning view of Manarola until it was seared into my eyes, but luckily I had reason to be pleasantly distracted – a trip to Riomaggiore and a hike to the sanctuary of the Madonna of Montenero with a new guide, Chiara.

I’d seen Riomaggiore from atop the mountains while hiking and out in the ocean while boating, but this was my first trip into the center of the town. I found it was similar in size to Manarola and the community seemed just as tight-knit. Everyone smiled and stopped their work to talk with Chiara as we walked by. One woman even handed me a soft, fresh apricot she’d just picked.

Because everyone in Cinque Terre has known one another for decades, it can be easy to feel like an outsider here, but if you know one person, the entire town becomes your friend.

As a native of Riomaggiore and a guide by profession, Chiara is simultaneously rooted in the Cinque Terre tradition, while being subject daily to the tourism culture here. From this unique perspective, she had a lot to say about striking the right balance between the two.

We should all strive to leave a place better when we leave it – or at least to support the authentic heritage rather than just the tourist culture. Repeatedly throughout my time here, I’d been told the best way to support Cinque Terre is to drink Cinque Terre wine. Look for bottles of white wine made in one of the five towns, or perhaps La Coopertiva, a wine made with grapes from the entire Cinque Terre vintage each year. I highly recommend buying a bottle of the dry white wine called Costa da Posa. (If you happened to buy two and want to share… I’ll be there.)


With my time in Cinque Terre already changing from the clarity of the present into a rosy pink and sparkling blue mosaic of memories, I'd like to once again thank World Nomads, Parco Natzionale delle Cinque Terre and Can't Forget Italy for the incredible experience they've given me. I plan to take everything that I have learned along with me as a traveler, a writer and a cook. I can only hope that my life will continue to be filled with as much adventure and good food as it has been this past week. 

Tags: hiking, tourism, wine

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About elena_valeriote

Profile Picture

Follow Me

Where I've been


Photo Galleries

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about Italy

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.