Hiking the high trail in Cinque Terre

So you have decided to plan a trip to Cinque Terre, and you are set on hiking the paths, but you are wondering which of the myriad options might best suit? I highly recommend taking the less trodden trails way up high on the ridgelines. Not only will you be soaking in the most picturesque views all along the way, you will encounter much fewer people (and in the summer, this place gets crowded). During my hikes in late June 2013, there were long (30-60 minute) stretches where I did not encounter anyone else. This is a great way to enjoy a highly popular tourist destination, get in some great exercise, and also personally capture many postcard-worthy photos.

Seeing the views of the villages yourself is so much better than looking someone else’s. If you start hiking in the early morning, you’ll also escape the hottest part of the day and beat more of the crowds (to the extent the tough high trails are ever “crowded”). By midday, you also get wonderful sea breezes which rustle through the bushes and carry the unique smells of the land to your nose.

Without question, my favourite section of the hike is from Corniglia to Manarola via Volastra. Yes, the steps seem absolutely endless descending from Volasta to Manarola, but the hikes through the vineyards are absolutely stunning.

As long as you study your route and pay close attention at all trail junctions, the markings are actually quite well done. Though some of the trailheads are a bit difficult to find (most notably, the Santuario di Soviore trail out of Monterosso), once you have done a day or two on the trail, you will be comfortable in picking your path as you go.

After the end of a long day of hiking, there is nothing more refreshing than a cold cocktail or a filling snack. Some of my favourite eats included the fried seafood cones found throughout the villages (freshly caught, lightly battered, and just salty enough) and stuffed mussels (full of garlic goodness).

If you are looking for a true beach, Monterosso is probably the closest option you’ll find. If your idea of soaking in the sun involves laying on large rocks (and imitating a mountain goat to get to the rock in the first place), Corniglia is your place (be prepared for tons of steps). Vernazza also has a small beach in an unusual location. While Manarola does have a popular area for sunning and swimming, it is also very near some strong breaking tides and is probably only for strong swimmers.

My Cinque Terre hiking footwear

My Cinque Terre hiking footwear

Finally, if you have heard that trails are technical or you’ll need a lot of equipment, consider that I hiked all 5 villages over the course of a week, with all my things in a small carry-on sized rucksack. My choice in footwear … espadrilles and flip flips. I required some blister protection with the espadrilles, but I managed just fine and my feet were not overly sore.

If you have any questions about taking this fantastic route of high trails in Cinque Terre, please get in touch.

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Blue Pacific refreshing vodka cocktail

Blue Pacific cocktail in Manarola

2 oz. peach vodka
1/2 oz. coconut rum
1/2 oz. blue curaçao
4 oz. pineapple juice

Mixing instructions: Put a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker to chill it while you get your measurements together. Have your glass waiting, also with a few ice cubes in. Add all ingredients to the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Strain through shaker into the glass. If you’ve done a nice job of shaking, you’ll then be able to remove the strainer and pour the remaining shaker contents over the top of your drink. This is what gives the nice foam and really sets the drink off.

I originally came across the idea for this cocktail while on a hiking holiday in the Cinque Terre. After long days of hiking with brilliant blue skies and not much shelter from the sun, this was the perfect way to start relaxing and slip into the evening. If you have a craving for something sweet that reminds you of the beach, give it a try.

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Hand brew coffee feature in Wall Street Journal

Hand brew coffee kit

The January 16 edition of the Wall Street Journal had a very well-written piece on various methods of hand brewing coffee. I was particularly pleased to see beans featured from Square Mile Coffee out of East London. The methods covered included: V60, cafetière, Chemex, AeroPress, and Syphon. The Chemex and Syphon tended to feature heavily in the article, with the latter receiving attention most likely due to its striking appearance.

Wall Street Journal article

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