The End of a Magical Day on the Cinque Terre
Living the Riviera Life at Riomaggiore
A young couple push their way through the crowded section of the train from La Spezia; bouncing off startled passengers as they hurry from one carriage to the next.
I am standing in that section of the train, with a number of other passengers and our luggage, jammed in like sardines. "Watch your bags!" I call out to the others, remembering the reputation the Cinque Terre has for pickpockets working the local trains.
As the train pulls in to Riomaggiore station, I bid the other 'sardines' farewell and lift my luggage down on to the platform. Dragging my suitcase, I head for the exit, my eyes darting around looking for a single man who appears to be waiting for someone.....me! Well that sounds familiar...but this time it's for a different reason!
I am here to stay for the next few nights in an apartment I've booked through Air BnB. My host, Giuseppe, told me he'd meet me at the station to show me to the accommodation. He isn't too difficult to find, and upon introducing myself I soon discover he speaks only Italian with just a few words of English. Not to worry, my recent weeks of Italian lessons hold me in good stead as we make our greetings.
I skip briskly to keep up with Giuseppe as we weave our way through this quaint car free village to the apartment.
Along the underpass below the train tracks we go, down a flight of stairs and then another underpass before spilling out into the sunshine again. I take a quick moment to marvel at my first view of the ocean and the little fishing boats moored in the calm water inside the breakwater. The oche coloured buildings perched right on the edge of the land are fascinating.
Then off again I skurry after Giuseppe who is carrying my suitcase down more steps, past restaurants filled with joyful patrons sitting outside, past the colourful wooden boats stored safely on dry land, then up stairs and around a bend behind a building until we finally come to the door of Profumo di Mare. Phew! Although less than 10 minutes from the station, I am elated that Giuseppe has taken charge of my case as that has been quite a walk.
He unlocks the door and motions me inside. I am immediately met with the pretty bright green and yellow décor of the kitchen/dining area. Giuseppe gives me comprehensive information regarding the well equipped kitchen before we move up the steep stairs to the upper level where the two bedrooms are. The first room has a double bed and wardrobes, along with an opening window to capture breezes off the alleyway below whilst still allowing for complete privacy. The second bedroom has a single bed, wardrobes and, again, an opening window for ventilation. The bathroom is on the lower floor next to the front door.
With me totally clued up on when to put the rubbish out and what to do with the key when I leave, Giuseppe ensures I have his phone number, in case I need help during my stay, before saying, "Arrivederci."
I unpack my suitcase and, as I have the whole place to myself, use the second bedroom to store my clothes before stepping out to check the village out.
There is a seafront café about fifteen metres from my door, in an area that I am later to discover is a perfect spot to watch the sunset. Other restaurants are within this marina area which is such a colourful sight with the bright blue painted fishing boats against the ochre coloured buildings.
The 'main street' is less than a 5 minute walk from my apartment and there I find a small supermarket, gift shops, tour offices and plenty more places to eat and drink.
Sitting at an outside table in the glorious sunshine, I order a panino for my late lunch and an Aperol Spritz. I enjoy the range of music playing, tapping my feet and singing along to the likes of Neil Diamond. The afternoon wears on; I'm not going anywhere as this is just divine. A Canadian couple at a nearby table, also enjoying the easy listening, sing-a-long type music, invite me to join them and we soon mix with a couple from Roma. I really enjoy this aspect of solo travel - there is always someone willing to invite you into their fold.
Amazingly, I am able to translate some of the conversation between English and Italian! Who would've thought that my limited language skills would already have me feeling slightly immersed in this beautiful country that has my heart.... but there are rewards for all of us when we set our mind to doing something.
Approaching dusk, I make my way back around the corner to my cheery little apartment. The restaurants are still buzzing with the sounds of laughter and clatter of plates and cutlery. The air is calm and at about body temperature. I smile at people I pass; I'm feeling so envigorated by my surroundings. It is a beautiful place and, whilst I'm travelling alone, I don't feel lonely here.
The marina is soon bathed in a golden glow as the sun sinks lower and we all witness the changing colour of the cliffs.
Lovers and others converge on the point near my apartment which looks out over the ocean. I sit back on the steps nearby, rest my feet on the rope railing and breathe in this beautiful evening.
Riomaggiore is a good base for visiting the four other villages that make up the Cinque Terre in Italy's North. As I mentioned, it is a car free village but the train system works really well and can get you to the other villages with ease. .. Just watch out for the pickpockets, though.
The apartment Profumo di Mare is well suited for 1-3 people. I wouldn't recommend it if you aren't too mobile as the stairs to the upper level are pretty steep. The village generally, is made up of many steps and inclines, so its great workout for your legs and butt but not suitable for the dodderers. Although I didn't use any of the cooking facilities (the weather was just toooo good to be inside) the kitchen was very well stocked with all that you'd need to cook meals. The nearby supermarket stocked a good range of groceries and fruit....but if you're like me and enjoy mixing with the locals and eating their amazing food, there are plenty of places to grab a meal.
Giuseppe was the perfect host. He communicated with me in the lead up to my visit and having him meet me at the train station was a bonus.
Further details and bookings can be made with Giuseppe here.