Treasures of the Cinque Terre

2013-10-11

It was a stroke of luck, really, that my luggage was lost when I flew to Italy this summer to visit the jewel box villages of the Cinque Terre — five heart-stoppingly picturesque hamlets on the Ligurian coast, dotted with pastel houses nestled amid terraced hills that drop to the jade and lapis waters of the Mediterranean. All I had with me were my eyes and feet. For the next few days, that would be all I needed. Unencumbered, I could leap lightly onto trains and trails, feeling sorry for the heavily laden travelers around me, even as I mourned the absence of my hiking sandals. And I saw at once that the Cinque Terre (pronounced CHING-kway TAY-ray) should not be reserved as a bucket-list destination: they are best seen pre-bucket, while you are still limber enough to hop on and off platforms and boats, scamper up winding medieval staircases and clamber onto slick sunning rocks in secluded coves and on friendly beaches.

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