Years ago, the sound of church bells rolled across the shimmering waters of Vernazza’s harbor, echoed through the hillside passageways, and fell into a tiny attic hotel room where Laura and I were sleeping.
Vernazza is often considered the most beautiful of the five villages in Italy’s Cinque Terre, which we spent several days exploring in 2010. The town dates back to the medieval period, and is made up of a series of narrow foot passages that lead up the steep hillsides. There are no cars in the town.
Though busy during the day, the village is remarkably calm and peaceful at night.
The towering hills above Vernazza are crisscrossed by trails that lead to nearby villages, both in Cinque Terre and beyond. During our visit, we hiked from Vernazza to Manarola, stopping at Volastra along the way. It was a long and dazzling hike, during which we discovered that virtually the entire mountain range is covered in terraces.
The recording at the beginning of this post was made on July 22, 2010, from a somehow-affordable hotel room that overlooked the harbor. About a year later, Vernazza was devastated by by a mudslide that ripped through the entire center of the town. By all accounts, however, the area is recovering.
And ultimately, as I have been since I first visited, I look forward to returning to this amazing place.
— Jim Dalrymple II