I started my first full week in Europe with another day of hiking. This time I tackled the Sentierro Azzurro from Monterosso, the fourth and northernmost section of the trail. My original plan was to take the ferry from Manarola to Monterosso and then a train from Vernazza back to Manarola after the hike, but with a thunderstorm overhead and rough seas the boats were cancelled, so instead I took the train three stations north, befriending a Bermudan family doing the same thing along my way.
On arriving in Monterosso I headed straight for the old town, filled up my water bottles and set off for the trail head. It was much more pleasant weather for hiking than my first day, with no blazing sun overhead and the storm clouds keeping the temperature down. The trail was lovely, full of groves and grottos, and of course the usual views of Monterosso over my shoulder as I ascended the first hill. The rain hit about two-thirds of the way to Vernazza, and I decided not to wait it out, since it wasn't too heavy. I arrived in Vernazza as everyone was literally battening down the hatches against the increasing wind, so I grabbed a slice of pesto pizza to go and legged it for the next train.
Tuesday, in keeping with my dispersion of active and sedentary days, was quiet. I had it pegged as my Manarola exploration day. Clad in my favourite pretty summer dress, since the storm had blown over and it was back to full summer, I headed first north up the hill from the hostel, stumbling along some nice views of Manarola and a well-recommended trattoria along the way. I then headed back down the hill, detouring via any little street or alley that took my fancy. One such alley, Via Belvedere, led me up above Manarola's main street to stunning views from the headland (each town of the Cinque Terre is essentially nestled between two high ridges jutting into the sea).
From there I wandered through Manarola to the other ridge, walking past Punta Buonfiglio and the Manarola cemetery and scoping out a likely swimming spot around the other side. Later in the afternoon I persuaded my Aussie roommate Steph and new arrival Adam to join me down at the harbour for a swim, where I met my Bermudan friends again and decided to join the local boys in climbing the large rock in the middle of the harbour and jumping five or six metres into the clear blue Mediterranean. Worth it!