On our second day in Vernazza we used the train to explore some of the other towns of the Cinque Terre. We went to touristy and somewhat less charming (but still pleasant) Monterosso al Mare, as well as Riomaggiore. These two towns are the bookends, so to speak, of the region; coming from Genoa via train, Monterosso al Mare is the first town and Riomaggiore is the last.

After a day of walking around in the sun and exploring the towns’ hills and winding stairways we were pretty tired. We we also really hot, so when we got to Vernazza we decided to go swimming. Though Vernazza’s “beach” is really just a short stretch of sand where boats can enter or exit the bay, the water and surrounding rocks are quite popular swimming and sunning locations. We found a nice rock near a group of elderly Italian women to put our stuff and swam out into the bay.

As soon as we entered the water I was surprised at how clear it was. Though the sun was setting—which again made the town’s painted buildings astoundingly vivid—I could still see clearly through the water. It made me wish I had brought snorkeling equipment, or at least the money to buy some somewhere. Instead of snorkeling, however, Laura and I swam out to a shallow, jagged cave near the mouth of the bay.

As it got darker we decided to get something to eat. We rinsed the sand and salt off in one of the town’s many free water fountains (which are one of the best things about Italy), and found an inexpensive pizzeria. Because Cinque Terre is pesto country, we ordered a pesto pizza. It was delicious and we ate it on the boulders of a jetty, watching the moon glimmer endlessly toward the horizon.


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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