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A Feast for the Senses Hiking Italy’s Cinque Terre Trails Story & Photography by Amy Laughinghouse

A

While most wine produced in Italy’s Cinque Terre is made from white grapes, Prima Terra’s Cerico, a blend of Grenache and Syrah, proves a tasty exception.

The UNESCO reserve, established in 1999, encompasses more than 9,500 acres and connects five of the Italian Riviera’s most picturesque coastal villages:

ngelo Celsi must run

the tour operator Tourissimo—that his

the most lucrative

brother used to run the stand. When he

lemonade stand on

died, Celsi took over. “I’m more success-

the planet. Despite his

ful,” he says, passing a parched, sweaty

isolated location on a

hiker a plastic cup. “Maybe it’s my look,”

dirt trail on Italy’s northwestern coast,

Celsi smiles, fluffing his snow white

an estimated 2.5 million people passed

beard before posing for a photo with a

through this area last year.

trio of French girls.

That’s because this isn’t any old

While the trails nearest the park’s

dusty path. It’s part of 120 miles of

borders outside the villages can be rela-

undulating trails that flit through pine-

tively peaceful, the path from Monter-

scented forests, flirt with postcard

osso to Vernazza where Celsi has set

panoramas of the blue Ligurian Sea,

up shop teams with a steady stream of

and snake alongside terraced vineyards

hikers from around the world on this

as they crisscross the Cinque Terre

sunny afternoon. I eavesdrop on fellow

National Park. The UNESCO reserve,

Americans, Brits, and Australians, many

established in 1999, encompasses more

of whom seem surprised at the ardu-

than 9,500 acres and connects five of

ousness of the trails.

the Italian Riviera’s most picturesque coastal villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. As Celsi juices lemons and oranges

“They really need to work on these stairs,” one young American grunts as he descends stone steps gouged from the hillsides. “And by stairs, I mean, they need an escalator.” The Aussies,

harvested from his own orchards, the

meanwhile, have paused for a beverage

wiry octogenarian explains through

at a scenic overlook, where one hiker

my guide—Beppe Salerno, founder of

checks their progress on his iPhone.

Italy’s Monterosso al Mare is the only town among the Cinque Terre’s five villages with a long, sandy beach.

All Photo

102 WDT MAGAZINE WINTER 2016

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