Thursday, 22 December 2011

Lemons in December

Today the weather really warmed up and, since my son seems to be doing much better, we decided to go on a short afternoon excursion to the Cinque Terre, five neighboring villages on the Ligurian coastline built right on the cliffs overlooking the sea. (The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.)

Unfortunately, two of them (Vernazza and Monterosso) are presently closed because they have been largely destroyed by torrential rains which caused floods and mudslides on October 25, 2011. Nonetheless, the hotel concierge recommended going to see the nativity scene in Manarola, so we hopped on the local train for half an hour, arrived in Rio Maggiore and then took a short hike from there to Manarola.

The harbour of Rio Maggiore

Murals at Rio Maggiore

Rio Maggiore was really impressive: it is a town with total vertical spread on a high cliff. I do not think that even one inch of the town lies on a flat surface. And everyone has lemon and orange trees in the backyard! I could not believe my eyes: ripe lemons and oranges everywhere, at the end of December! It made me completely forget that I miss our snowy Canadian Christmas. :-)

The lovers' promenade

From Rio Maggiore, we took the "lovers' promenade" (in Italian, "passeggiata dell'amore") to Manarola. I was a bit hesitant at first to hike there with my son, but it turned out it is a flat road, and it was lovely to stroll there in the sun. Unfortunately, however, we got to Manarola too early to see the nativity scene, because it is visible only in the evening darkness. Our afternoon had been too enjoyable to have any regrets though!

Manarola seen from the lovers' promenade

The nativity scene in Manarola that we did not get to see (Photo: Wikipedia)

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