Tuscany 2013 - 6: Pure Cinque Terre (50 p.)

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Proud Earthling

To the previous trip report part:
Tuscany 2013 - 5: Firenze - Cinque Terre (50 p.)

The itinerary for this part:
Tue, April 16 2013

Monterosso dep 11:56  11259 -> La Spezia C PP

Vernazza arr 12:00 

Vernazza dep 14:25  24493 -> La Spezia C PP

Manarola arr 14:34

April 16 2013

We find ourselves on Tuesday morning at Monterosso, located on the beautiful coastal stretch of Cinque Terre, already part of Liguria province.

As promised the view from the Capuchin abbey on San Cristforo hill with R 2043 Torino - La Spezia. My next destination was the path leading away from the railway line along the cliff coast.

This hotel vehicle had passed me several times already, now I finally knew where to find Hotel Porto Roca... ;-)

From this short drivable section a coastal path branched off leading to the next village towards La Spezia, Vernazza. The amount of tourists had increased exponentially, all the time German speaking visitors walked past me. I reached the edge of the bay where the path led steeply uphill past a villa. The viewpoint was closed due to renovation, as most of the path is often affected by rockfall and mudslides, as we will see later. A German tourist had managed to be trapped on the building site despite fences and signs to keep out.
I turned around and moved a little closer to the village until I found a position where beautiful views were possible as well.

A fleet of excursion boats had started operating.

As first highlight at about 10:30 a.m. a class ETR460 as ES 9762 "Frecciabianca" from Roma Termini to Genova Piazza Principe showed up.

The super-panorama from my wonderful spot featuring a bench where you could sit and click trains in a pensioner-friendly fashion.

Love "ES" (Eurostar) or "FS" (Ferrovie dello Stato)? Both applied! :)

Almost on the viaduct two tank wagon trains met, one hauled by class E652, this one as next treat by a class E655 in old livery!

Another ship arrived.

View of the bay featuring R 2181 Milano - La Spezia.

I changed position closer to the beach, two brave girls were already bathing in the hot April sun. In the meantime a class E402A electric passed with IC 657 Milan - Grosseto, stopping at Monterosso as almost all InterCity trains.


I still waited for R 24490 to Sestri Levante, then moved on.

Goa-fisherman, Cinque Terre style! ;-)

Through a connecting tunnel where a street musician played for tourists you could quickly reach the bay of the station. Sadly the railway line is completely hidden behind vegetation on the seaside in this section.



A last view towards La Spezia from Monterosso, the next destinations Vernazza and Manarola are already discernible in the haze.


More and more people were gathering at the platform, I noticed that passengers did not seem to consider timetables here, they just showed up and waited for the next train - by the "metro principle", so to speak. The "best show" was delivered by a French family who had to take a family portrait standing past the yellow line just as the train entered the platform.

After only 3 kms ride Vernazza was reached, in the narrow streets of this little town almost unbelievable scenes of mass tourism occured. With rushhour-feeling I walked down the stairs from platform to street level.

But it paid off, on a short stretch the northbound track towards Genoa can be seen - amidst the most wonderful ensemble! We start with R 24492 to Sestri Levante shortly before 12:30.

Miraculously this scene could be captured almost authentically, tourist groups from the nearby boat dock were regularly herded past me.

Even original characters from this fishing village could be spotted...

View towards Monterosso.

Once more balcony photography.


Next highlight: IC 670 Livorno - Milano pulled by - as most ICs on this line - a class E444R racing a seagull.

In the meantime I got hungry and stopped for lunch at a tourist pub with harbourside terrace. You only had to lift your camera and click as something came by. The food even neither was bad nor expensive, so it already had paid off. You only sometimes had to share the narrow space, once a school class gathered on the public benches next to me, the second most occuring groups after tourists at retirement age. I was given a remainder of white wine by a French pair sitting next to me, this lunch break was developing nicely!

E444R alle Vongole... ;-)

The same view standing on the wall with boats in the foreground and R 11290 to Ventimiglia in the background.

At the end of the quai wall there was a little more privacy and I laid down waiting for R 24494 to Sestri Levante. Afterwards, when an American tourist started clicking the landscape using a pink iPad in a pink cover I took flight.
The panorama, Monterosso to the left.


Railway through paradise.

And a last view at the beautiful harbour.

I chose the way back to the station through marvellous, deserted side streets.

Picturesque scenes presented themselves spontaneously.

Entering the station I found a poster showing photos of the flood disaster on October 25 2011, proper madness, as you can see on this YouTube-link. This is the pier I was standing on, if you watch closely you can spot a few temporary waterfalls along the cliffs in the distance:

Good old FS at a tunnel portal inside the station.

The platform was situated in a narrow space between two tunnels providing a fascinating micro-climate as it was a few degrees cooler than the surroundings due to draught through the tunnels.

The situation was aggravated by express trains passing at unabated speed, here a class E444R with IC 511 Turin - Salerno.

And ten minutes later IC 510 Salerno - Turin. At certainly 60 mph a strong slipstream could be felt long before the train arrived, with constant masses of tourists on the platform I wondered why incidents did not happen more frequently. Most drivers passed this station Indian-style: whistling continually.

It was time to continue my journey by R 24493, but after its arrival I had to be patient as about 200 geriatric German tourists poured out of the two adjacent coaches. Trains were obviously used as tour busses here, as the stations were more conveniently located near town centres. How a timetable could ever be kept was a mystery to me. For me it posed an additional problem, as I had planned a certain business on the short ride. In the end I managed it without problem during the ten minutes including one intermediate stop at Corniglia. ;-)

A final drag before entering the train - smoke-free stations seemed to be an illusion in Italy, many people lit their first cigarette already while still exiting the trains.

Upon arrival at Manarola I wanted to follow the coastal path towards La Spezia, as it provided nice views of station and village, but then this - after a closed hell and purgatory in Florence - now love was the next victim! ;-)

Luckily this view was not bad either...

E444 046 honoured me with IC 665 Milano - La Spezia, in the meantime tourists from all over the world came by to find out the path was closed.

Again through a tunnel you reached the historical centre quickly.

Heavy seas were only caused by the wakes of excursion ships that day.

Following the path towards Vernazza you are offered this magnificent view of Corniglia, where construction work was carried out along the railway. A class E652 hauling a northbound freight overtook a local train in the station.

An Asian tourist group walked past me, some stragglers stayed for a photo op.

Into the other direction you could enjoy perfectly located Manarola. Sadly the railway is situated behind the cliff, so I chose the next classic spot near the pink house at the top right corner.

You cannot find this place intuitively as a labyrinth of stairs leads into the upper part of town. I will post a map in the next part.

I had arrived at the square which would provide excellent services for the following two hours.

As pretaste I would like to show you the first nice train at the location, a class E402B hauled Eurostar 9772 "Frecciabianca" Rome - Milan, the first coaches behind the loco still wore the old grey EuroStarCity-livery.

Until next time at this beautiful spot! :)

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