If you enjoyed last week’s visit to the wine harvest in Tuscany, my wine adventures in Italy continue with my visit to the Cinque Terre. This part of the trip involves even more grapes and wine, with the added benefit of hiking straight uphill for many hours and kilometres. I joke because I love.

Hiking through the villages of the Cinque Terre has been something I’ve wanted to do for a couple of years. While I am definitely a walker, I wouldn’t call myself a “hiker.” When I found the dreamy sounding Cinque Terre Coastal Walk through G Adventures, I knew right away I found what I was looking for. “What could be more lovely than a leisurely walk among brightly-coloured villages next to the Mediterranean?” Ha!

Manarola Cinque Terre hike hiking trails grapes

The hike was glorious, but challenging (in a good way). Textbook-perfect weather with lots of bright sun and blue skies. The views were beyond spectacular, with each of the Cinque Terre’s villages revealing themselves to be unique in character, but unified in charm. We covered a lot of ground, much of which seemed to be uphill. Update 2016: all of the routes have been renumbered, make sure you have a current map before setting out. 

Cinque Terre Coastal Walk hiking route

Several of the trails on the actual coastline are closed presently due to floods and landslides, but that meant we got to hike on the higher trails, giving us the opportunity to wander through the Cinque Terre’s vineyards. The trails go right through piles upon piles of grape vines and olive trees and, to me, it felt quintessentially Mediterranean.
Cinque Terre hike hiking trails grapes

Since were in the right place at the right time, that meant we got to witness the Cinque Terre grape harvest firsthand. Since the hills are so steep, there are two ways to get grapes up the hill: in a basket hoisted up on your shoulder and on what I called the “Grape Train,” a rickety single-rail line that ran up and down the mountain. It was a delight to see it in action, though it also guaranteed I would never risk a trip.

And what about the wine? In this particular area, there was an abundance of Cinque Terre Denominazione di origine controllata (fancy Italian wine-talk), a crisp white produced from up to three varieties of grapes grown in the region: Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino. I sampled a fair amount during my time there, it pairs beautifully with the abundant local seafood options. There was a lot of harvesting on the trail from Manarola to Volastra to Corniglia. Now, more than a month after my trip, I’m seeing flashes of these images in my mind and fondly recalling the experience that helped me graduate from walker to hiker.

Halifax food stylist and blogger Beth Dunham has written an incredible post that explores more the Cinque Terre and offers up a great recipe for a  dish from the area.

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