Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cinque Terre

"It's about a 1 hour walk; about 2 hours if you're taking photos."

- Elisabeth, about the path between Corniglia and Manarola

Around the 11th century, a Ligurian peasant decided he'd spend his spare time carving a terrace out of a mountain face overlooking the Med. The land around the coast is too steep to be arable, and it must've seemed like a good idea at the time. But it quickly got out of hand. The result is about 2,000km of stone terraces along some pretty inaccessible stretches of coast. 

The Cinque Terre area is certainly arresting. You walk along the cliff face and there's a picture-perfect view every ten paces. It's terribly frustrating because the intensity of the sun means that a third of the shots will be in shadow, a third will be too bright, and the rest will only remind you of how much better it looks in real life. 

Elisabeth was right. It's no joke; you really do spend half your time there taking pictures. The fishing towns are perched on steep rocky valleys; sometimes, houses are built right on the cliff-top. The trails wind through vineyards, forests, cliffs... and then there's the Med, all sparkly and blue and perfect. 

There really are some places too beautiful to be true. 

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