Thursday, 13 August 2015

Arrivederci Italia

My last full day in Manarola was an odd-numbered day, which meant more physical activity and hiking! This time I decided to go Manarola-Riomaggiore, but since the easy section of the Sentierro Azzurro between the two towns, famously known as the Via dell'Amore or Path of Love, is still closed for repairs, the only way was up - literally. Stopping in at the trattoria I found the day before to make a reservation for that evening, I hit the steep steps leading to the mountain trail over the ridge between Manarola and Riomaggiore. I wish I could convey how steep it was. It was just up, and up, and up some more. The views were sufficient compensation, however - well, almost.

As I began the quick, steep descent into Riomaggiore, I could hear some kind of loud noise, like a drum corp, coming from the town. It started up again as I entered the main village, so I hurried through the back streets until I found the source of the noise. The culprits are in some of the photos below - a Catalunyan drumming group from Barcelona called Papaya Jam, which was playing and busking in the streets of Riomaggiore. After watching them for a while, I bought a ticket for the next ferry northbound and wandered back into town for lunch. I decided to try a local dish I keep seeing, deep-fried vegetables (usually served with mixed calamari) - suffice to say there's a reason why battered artichoke is not cordon bleu!

When it arrived I jumped on the ferry from Riomaggiore to take the boat trip to Monterosso that I'd hoped to do two days before. It took about half an hour, but there were nice views of the towns and it was pleasant out on the water. Once I reached Monterosso I headed straight for the station and the next train - the best way I can describe Monterosso is 'resort town', so it's not somewhere that I ever plan to pass much time! I ran into an English guy from my hostel on the train, so at least I had company when I discovered that, after all the ticketing problems, we'd hopped on an express train to Riomaggiore! We jumped on a train north, and I returned to Manarola, but Callum stayed on as he had a hankering to see Corniglia.

Getting back to the hostel, I checked my emails and had time for a hasty shower before heading out to my dinner reservation. The restaurant was nice - definitely classier than the ones in the main street, and very romantic/couple-y - but the real draw was the view over Manarola and the harbour. I watched the sunset over the water while I ate dessert and then headed back to my hostel, where I persuaded the two American girls and the German girl in my dorm, plus two English guys and an Aussie that we'd met, to come for a late-night swim around the point with me. We floated in the Mediterranean and watched a meteor shower in the sky above us - a magical way to finish my time in Italy.

Thursday was a travel day - after performing some amateur surgery on German Daria, who'd stepped on a sea urchin while swimming, she and the Americans walked me down to the station to catch the noon train. I have no idea what the ticket machines were doing, but my itinerary ultimately involved a lot of changes and a lot of waiting. I finally arrived at Bergamo at 7pm, but after some confusion with the buses it was 9pm before I reached the hostel, grateful for a shower, and repacked my bag for an early flight on Friday.

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