Summer in full swing at the Cinque Terre

Vernazza 60's Pop band“Let’s twist again, like we did last Summer…” blares out across the piazza of Vernazza and nannas and poppas, kids and tourists jive and shake, bop and twist while others giggle on the sidelines. Summer is in full swing in the Cinque Terre! Vernazza Pop band guitarist



Guitarists shimmer in their gold lamé jackets as a replica Nancy Sinatra belts out her song and jangles her tambourine under the psychedelic lights. I haven’t seen Vernazza rave like that for a long time. And it’s not the only village that is entertaining locals and holidaymakers alike.

Corniglia offered their version of a Tom Waits, John Lurie style of Blues in the main street with singer songwriter Folco Orselli and his 3 piece band – Live in Caruggio (alleyway). Milanese by birth but a lover and regular resident of the Cinque Terre. If you’d like to get into the mood click here on his album “Outside is my side”

And more  Pop music at Corniglia the following night – with popular Elvis numbers, crooning Beach boys ‘Do you wanna dance.. with the crowd doing a great ‘do you do you’ chorus, ending the night with Gloria Gaynor classicsI will survive…..”

But it’s not just the music that makes the Cinque Terre so magic. We wandered down to Vernazza at sunset having hiked the trails between the villages, captivated by the views, the myriad of vineyards, the strong scent of Mediterranean brush and the hot sun baking our skin rewarded by a refreshing swim on arrival.

Free beach space is always a problem but I have learnt to squeeze in and create my own space seduced by crystal blue seas and in this heat….is there an option?

Corniglia Marina is fast becoming my favourite spot despite the 300+ steps down to it!

ManarolaWhile Manarola is an old time haunt, the high trail is a little taxing in the heat and the thought of a crowded train ride sometimes puts me off.

Living almost solely on fruit and gelati, waiting for the evening breeze to revive us from the Summer heat, watching kids glued to their mobiles or searching for pokemon….yes the craze has hit even the Cinque Terre!Monterosso kids




Drooling over a private food table in the ready for the Disabled Scuba diving club of Monterosso, and very impressed by their watermelon sculptures.


And it’s reassuring to see families playing table soccer in the main square of VernazzaVernazza surrounded by restaurants bulging at the seams with clients enjoying pesto dishes, seafood pasta, local fish and of course anchovies fried, pied or lightly marinated.

As the sun goes down, Vernazza is in its prime……




Cinque Terre sunset








and the Cinque Terre remains an enchanting paradise.








Christmas lights in the Cinque Terre

Nativity scene Cinque TerreIt’s Christmas time again and the cities are boasting their Christmas lights to the delight of kids and even the big kids like me! I thought this Christmas I would take you to the Cinque Terre to enjoy the fantastic luminous Nativity scene that adorns the hillside above Manarola.



Mario Andreoli has been creating this masterpiece for the past 50 years, adding and changing figures each year to the now 300 or more characters. A retired railway worker, he is super industrious and passionate about his creations, forever designing new scenes and improving on the old ones. Mario Andreoli

Fireworks Manarola

Photos from Ruth Manfredi – Save Vernazza

Cinque terre fireworks

This years light up ceremony

He is well loved by the community as posters and paintings in the village proudly broadcast his merits and the excitement mounts for the ceremonial ‘light up’ on the 8th December. Something like Obama turning on the Xmas tree lights!








Mario Andreoli portrait



All the life size figures are made from recycled materials, lit by thousands of light bulbs and in this you tube video you can see Mario at work. Although advanced in years he works diligently on various projects which include the Stations of the cross and the Resurrection at Easter and a special scene made in 2011 for the 150 year anniversary of the Unification of Italy. The Alpine Club volunteers help him with the heavier work and to mount the characters.

During the year I have hiked past some of the figures which are mounted permanently, a reminder of what to look forward to at Christmas.Hiking ManarolaHiking Cinque Terre




As you will see from the photos and video it’s not just an ordinary Nativity scene and having it seen it for real I can say it is truly spectacular, in a stunning setting, amongst the vineyards overlooking the sea.

Manarola Cinque Terre

Manarola – Cinque Terre

This beautiful artistic creation is eco-sustainable not only because of the materials used but also as it is now powered by solar energy.

A masterpiece by an incredibly humble local artist. The Nativity Scene remains lit until the end January just in case any of you are over this way!



Wishing you all a Merry Xmas and a Happy, Healthy and Wonderful 2015!

I’m off to Tunisia on an 8 day Trekking holiday ( not all trekking)……and where will you all be celebrating? Drop me a line here.


Take time to smell the roses in the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre roses

Come smell the roses!

Slow food, slow travel, slow holidaying is what it’s all about. What’s the rush? You’re on holidays! I have met so many tourists in the Cinque Terre doing the trails from Riomaggiore to Monterosso in a day, as if there is no tomorrow. They are missing half the beauty of the place, with no time to smell the roses or in reality the wildflowers and cactus upon cactus that pop up in the most unsuspecting places.

cactus flower





Wild sweet peas





Rock plant- Manarola


Cactus flowers






by Ambro

Image courtesy of Ambro/

With so much of the Blue trail being closed this year, holiday makers have been forced to explore the high trails or take the train. And the high trails offer some spectacular views; lush vineyard terraces and tranquil shade in the woods give a well-earned break before descending on the next village. Many are put off by the distance (2 – 3 hour trails taken leisurely) some steep ascents and descents with endless steps, so it’s not for the faint hearted or the unfit. Best to be equipped with water bottles, hiking shoes even walking poles for that extra support and stability and an enthusiasm for Nature. Put that together with a desire to have thighs of steel, toned and fatless, a firm butt with no additional gym fees and you’re on your way to winning the bikini test later in the day.

San Bernardino

Looking down on San Bernardino


I did the high trail from my little village of San Bernardino, via Volastra down to Manarola last week on a warm but cloudy day and was still bowled over by the views that I have seen so many times before. Truly awesome!Corniglia - Cinque Terre




Corniglia looks like a sleepy little village in the distance, securely placed well above the reach of any pirates or other unwelcome guests.Trail San Bernardino- Volastra




Sue Jane

A cool breeze starts the morning hike  along a mossed path in the woods. That clears on a little borgo of houses where there is time to smell the roses and more,  in their private garden.

Villas VolastraGarden- view to Monterosso






Vegetable garden - view Monterosso


I move on past their flourishing vegie garden with a stunning view, a location  I am sure the vegies just lap up! Another bend or two and the pretty church of Volastra appears.

Volastra church






Path - Volastra






Then lush vineyards, terrace after terrace splayed across trellises soaking up the sun.It’s easy to be thinking of a cool dry white wine overlooking the harbour, after the hike.

Vineyards - Corniglia

Vineyards and Corniglia

Manarola vineyards

vineyards and Manarola


Every bend and twist holds a new picture postcard, and the camera hardly has time to rest. Nothing of this scenery can be missed, it’s a total immersion in Nature, a time to reflect on the thousands who must have trodden this path before, the hard working mules carrying their loads, the assiduous toil of farmers capturing this land, clearing it and making it theirs. A haven of wine and olives and  essential foods.

Trail signposts

Manarola - Cinque Terre

Manarola beckons me to come on down and my footsteps take on a newer lighter tone as the hike is coming to an end.Farmers hut








View Manarola



What can I say?

Take time to do the high trails in the Cinque Terre, you will be well rewarded for your pains in every sense.

Manarola Marina