Monterosso al Mare

Day 5 – Arriving on The Italian Riviera – Monterosso
“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson.  We arrived late in the afternoon at our hotel but looking at our phones we realized we still had time for a couple hours of sunshine to enjoy the beach. We hurried to change our clothes to take a dip in the cool waters the Sea of Cinque Terre offers and grab a cocktail from a beach bar where patrons are lazily either reading or taking in the beautiful sea view. A wine reception on the rooftop patio and a Ligurian dinner was on the schedule for later that evening with the group. Both events offered a chance to connect or reconnect with the members of our tour group and exchange highs and lows of our visits so far.  

Day 6 – Free time to explore… to quote Rick Steve’s itinerary “a vacation from your vacation” – many of our tour members elected to hike between the 5 towns of Cinque Terre, or spend day at beach, attend cooking class or completed some retail therapy. Dennis and I had signed up for a The Cinque Terre Cooking School, up the road from our hotel. Funny story how we landed at the school: upon leaving the cemetery yesterday we were trying to figure out how best to fill our time in Monterosso. Dennis wanted a beach day and I wanted a cooking demo or class (the class the members of our tour group was was attending was already full, so I was pulling out all stops looking for another one). Dennis opened his weather app and pulled up Monterosso weather outlook – and it said rainy and stormy for our free day, so he conceded and we signed up for the cooking school I had found that still had space for attendees. At that time, little did we know, there were many Monterosso’s and he had actually pulled weather on Monterosso Grana in the province of Cuneo, Piedmont. The weather on Day 6 at our Monterosso could not have been more beautiful. Truth be told, it may have been the most beautiful day of our trip. We got up that morning, enjoyed a wonderful light breakfast, walked to the sea, and afterwards went to the designated rendezvous spot to be picked up by the cooking  school representative. We met a couple more cooking school attendees while awaiting for the van. We loaded up and trekked up the mountainside to a beautiful restaurant at the top that had the most amazing view of the Cinque Terre coast line. We spent the day making new friends from different parts of the world. Our Chef instructor was patient and witty. He walks us through all steps of making multiple Italian favorites. Each 2 person table made a sweetbread (like biscotti cake), a fabulous pesto, homemade gnocchi, stuffed vegetables, and even learned how to filet a fish (the Julia Childs in Dennis made an appearance – see video below 😊). Let us set the stage for you. Listening to Italian music, endless white and red vino, all while soft breezes were blowing with little honey bees stopping by for little visits amongst us. After our food has been cooked by the staff, we sat down together and enjoyed the fruits of our labor with all of us wholeheartedly agreeing that this day could not have been any better. When we first decided to go to Italy, Dennis had been searching for a restaurant that we could celebrate at on the coast. He found the perfect spot and emailed them in “Dennis Style” about 6 months in advance 😊, to which they emailed him back a “Confermata” (confirmed in Italian), which we still giggle at. We had our regular Italian fare of simple yet delicious and the views were breathtaking yet again. We strolled back to the city and decided to end our evening with having a nightcap at a little café. While sitting there we heard some music play and a parade from the local church unfolded right before us celebrating the anniversary of the founding of their church.

To sum up our “vacation from your vacation” it was just what our heart, minds, and bodies needed. Joy through food, drink, and friendships is always a lasting recipe. Tomorrow awaits as we leave Monterosso and finish the Heart of Italy tour in Florence.

Monterosso al Mare, a jewel within Italy’s Cinque Terre, enchants visitors with its coastal allure. The largest of the five villages, Monterosso boasts golden sandy beaches, framed by colorful pastel buildings and lush vineyards. Its medieval old town, characterized by narrow lanes and charming squares, exudes a timeless charm. The 13th-century Aurora Tower and the Capuchin Monastery add historical depth to the landscape. Monterosso’s seafood-centric cuisine, featuring local specialties like anchovies and pesto, delights the senses. With its breathtaking vistas of the Ligurian Sea, Monterosso invites travelers to unwind, savor local flavors, and immerse themselves in the tranquility of this coastal haven.