The off season in the Cinque Terre is always a favourite time for me. Residents linger on the streets; enjoying the quiet and a catch up on the gossip, and the towns become “ours” again. Even the small number of tourists still enjoying the trails, the views and the villages feel like locals. A certain calm and balance has come back into place, and a little sunshine peeks from behind the clouds.
The recent rains have caused flooding in various areas in Liguria and Tuscany, and while the emergency warning has reigned on several days in the Cinque Terre, luckily enough for now there has been no flooding.
I saunter down the trail from San Bernardino to Vernazza and come across only a French couple going in the opposite direction to Corniglia. I gaze down on my favourite beach and there is not a soul about, if only it was a smidge warmer I may even go and sit there for a while.
A few closed umbrellas of the cafes are in sight, although most of the outdoor seating has been packed away for another year. And some of the shops have already put up their protective flood barriers.
The same scene is repeated in the other villages. On the trail down to Manarola through the woods I only hear the scrunching of leaves underfoot, not even a cricket stirs. Manarola’s main street is lined with fishing boats and no one is splayed out sunbaking on the rocks around the harbour.
Washing flaps in the breeze as if to say “we’re back home now” as many residents dislodge themselves to La Spezia during the season while they rent out their apartments.
Corniglia’s plane trees are the only inhabitants in their piazza these days as residents gather inside the cafés. Although all it needs is a ray of sunshine to bring clients to one of my favourite haunts in Corniglia whose lovely creeper flaunts Autumn colours, offering the last shade that will be needed until next year.