To begin our last full day in beautiful Cinque Terre, we grabbed a quick breakfast of pastries and cappuccinos in Vernazza. Then we headed to Manarola (often referred to as the most picturesque of the five towns) for a pesto making class! This was one of the things we were most excited to do while in Italy and got the idea from the travel documentary, Salt Fat Acid Heat. It turned out to be the most gorgeous sunny day, which was perfect to sit alfresco and learn how to make traditional pesto from the owner of the Nessun Dorma restaurant. The restaurant is located on top of a cliff looking back over the harbor and beautiful rows of colorful houses.
After making the most delicious pesto I have ever had, we were treated to a lunch of charcuterie, cheese, olives, and plenty of bread and wine! In Italy, wine is named by region, so we were provided with Cinque Terre wine which may be my favorite of all time. It is a crisp white wine that is golden like the sun and not too sweet. We sat under the umbrellas with our new found friends from the pesto class, and enjoyed our food and wine overlooking the sparkling sea, like real Italians. I’m not sure anything will ever top that moment in our lives.
With our bellies full, we headed down the cliff to check out Manarola’s harbor. On the way down we passed a local artist and purchased one of his original watercolors of Vernazza. We have this hanging in our home to this day and could not love it more! Once we made it down to the water, we frolicked among the rocks, and took in all of the beautiful views.
We then headed out of Manarola to the first of the five towns of Cinque Terre, Monterosso. Monterosso is known as the most touristy town, and has the most shopping, hotels, and the only real beach of the Cinque Terre. We shopped around for a bit and then decided to take the hike across the mountain back to Vernazza, as it was the next town over. When I tell you we were not prepared for how strenuous this hike was going to be, I am not exaggerating in the least. We were not dressed appropriately for the unseasonably warm weather, and hadn’t packed any snacks or water. Half of the hike is literally straight up the side of the mountain. I don’t think either of us have ever climbed so many stairs and we were definitely winded. The views that we got at the top of the hike were unmatched and we would have missed out if we didn’t spontaneously decided to hike back to Vernazza. It took well over two hours (much longer than the 2 minute train ride) but I’m so glad we did it so we could see those incredible views!
To end our unreal day, we grabbed dinner with another couple from the pesto class at a restaurant right next to the harbor (Gamberro Rosso) in Vernazza at sunset. After a meal of delicious seafood and pasta, we ended the night with gelato (of course!) and turned in early to rest up for our journey to Nice, France the next day!