The Vintage Nomad
A Beautiful Coastline of Olive groves, grapevines and picturesque villages
Throughout Cinque Terre on the terraces that dot the coast the grapevines tan in constant sunlight, struggling like resting climbers for a foothold before plunging into the Mediterranean.
After a winding and treacherous drive from Pisa relying on the local Bus driver to keep you alive you will arrive at Riomaggiore the first of five villages know collectively as CINQUE TERRE . This part of central Italy was for many years separated from most of the country, as the only way in to the communities was by boat. Even today it is not easy to get into them and most cars are rendered useless due to the narrow roads to the villages. Old golf cart like three wheelers seem to be the vehicle of choice. However a train now runs along the coastline stopping at each village making it more lazy traveller friendly.
Being the most southern, Riomaggorie main vista is really the only street in the town rising up from the sea which small boats use as a jetty, the clean slatted street climbs some fifty metres above the water giving you great views towards the other villages. Heading for Corniglia you weave through the village labyrinth and emerge out on a breathtaking terrace that sits out of the town like a crows nest, with magnificent views in both directions.
The vineyard and fruit growing terraces of the region are UNESCO listed having been established and farmed from as early as when the Normans first invaded the area.
Bosca, vermentino and albarola are the three grape varieties used to make the local speciality. They are grown in all manner of styles up individual stakes to be mostly overhead trellises, where the fruit hangs down protected from the mid September sun. Small plots mainly no bigger than a small motel pool before the land falls away to the next terrace.
The grapes are picked into 40 litre baskets and loaded onto the back carriages and then the bloke who drew the short straw takes them up to the main road some 50 to 100m above.The driver seat being just a plastic chair you would use in any school assembly hall.
Arriving at the local winery co-op, a wine is made from partially drying the grapes on racks in the shade, providing heightened sweet berries with a greater acidity due to the natural water evaporation. These grapes are then crushed and are given some skin contact to extract more of the sugars.
The resultant wine is known as Sciacchetra an interesting mix of madeirised brown apple nutty raisined apricot sweetness followed by a fresh and lively acid finish, it has a deep golden amber colour. A wine that goes particularly well with the local deli spread of salami creamy buffalo mozzarella on a foccacia.
Views from above the villages where the temperature is considerably cooler and the air fresh with the smell of the pine forest, not many tourists are up at the heights preferring to stay on the main paths making them very quiet peaceful retreats.
Architecture with old world charm and stunning vistas are also on offer
The shutters all bear a consistent deep green and the mailboxes have a certain charm. This in combination with the people, the hikes the vistas and the food and wine make for a rich experience.
Sights Sunset on the crows nest in Corniglia. Or any vista from the
paths between and above the villages.
Debating in the square in Corniglia in late afternoon in your best garbled Italian about nothing in particula
The local chilli mussels washed down with the sweet nutty and apricot madeirised yet fresh acidic Schiacchetera wine