To be honest, before CR, I had heard the name Cinque Terre, and I had seen photos of a beautiful landscape from the coast of Italy, but I had never connected the two. That was until I applied for CR, googled Cinque Terre, and connected the dots that I actually had the opportunity to visit the place where these dreamlike pictures were taken. So, my original preconceived notions were simply that Cinque Terre would be a blissful mediterranean town, probably filled with tourists and rustic yet charming Italian people enjoying fresh fish and homemade wine. But then, upon one of my visits to check out Dr. P’s new fancy standing desk, I learned that we would be staying in Riomaggiore, one of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre. I also learned that Riomaggiore was less touristy and therefore more genuine than some of the other towns along the coast. So now, I am expecting a quaint town where we will get a real feel for life on a beautiful secluded Italian coast. I am expecting interesting conversations with people from a culture I have never experienced before, and I am expecting a hike somewhat resembling those that I have been on backpacking through my home state of Colorado but this time with a much different view.
After “digging” a little on Cinque Terre and more specifically on Riomaggiore, I was surprised to find that it is very difficult to access the chain of coastal towns by car. Travel by train is the most popular and suggested travel method when coming from inland Italy, and between the towns, options solely consist of train and trail by foot. Although there were once many hiking trails along the coast, many of them have been closed due to the heavy rains, rock slides, and flooding that terrorized Cinque Terre in 2011. Now only a few remain that are apparently much steeper and more difficult than the originals (the asthmatic me is thrilled).
This aspect of seclusion fascinates me because in our culture cars are almost essential to everyday life. This leads me to ask the following questions: do the people of Riomaggiore and the rest of Cinque Terre seem to have a different attitude about life than the Italian people we meet in Florence and Rome? Have many of them traveled to other places in Italy, and then, how do they feel about the rest of Italy or other Italians who have or have not experienced travel? In short, is there a difference between the people of Italy that seems to correlate to seclusion of a coastal town versus the accessibility of a bustling city?
I am going to start to answer this question by observing the people of Cinque Terra and hopefully asking them about travel and about how they feel about their life on the coast. I will then continue to research as we move down through Italy and seek this information in the people of Florence and Rome.
I look forward to seeing how geography correlates to the attitudes of people in different places. Of course I’m looking forward to the beauty of this gorgeous town as well, and oh yeah, that hike too, because yoCRo.