Footloose in Italy
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TWO MEMORABLE ITALIAN JOURNEYS
Footloose in Italy
~ 2 films on one DVD
1 ~ Walking in the Cinque Terre,THE DETAILS...
A local railway line links all the picturesque villages - they all have a station and it's very useful at the end of a walk to get back to where you started. We stayed at La Spezia (also on the railway) and took a boat to lovely Portovenere to catch the ferry that serves 4 of the five villages... Corniglia is the only one without sea access.
Out of the dozens of trails in the area, the Coastal Path between the "Five Lands" is the most popular because it is easier but still has stunning views. Waymarking is with red and white stripes (labelled walk no.2). It's obviously more crowded than other paths up through the vineyards of this delightful National Park. The 12Km Coastal Path gets progressively more difficult as you travel west from Riomaggiore, ranging from easy to medium difficulty. The first section is paved and by the fourth you are walking on the narrow top of dry stone walls which this region is famous for. Corniglia is perched high on the cliffs so there are a lot of steps here. Although the distances between the villages are not that great, don't be tempted to do the lot in one go - you will miss so much of what each charming fishing village has to offer. Monterosso is the largest and the only one with beaches.
While you are enjoying this unique 1000-year heritage, it's well worth sampling the traditionally simple and delicious local food and wine. Accomodation is sparse within the five villages, and La Spezia or Levanto both on the same railway line, are a better bet. Don't take a hire car... parking is almost impossible and the roads can be tortuous!
Read more in DEBRA'S DIARY
See what it's like - Walk with us on this DVD extract -
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2 ~ Discovering Venice,THE DETAILS...
Venice is so unique, so gorgeous that few people can fail to be enchanted by it. Our first glimpse of the island city was from the train window as we slowly traversed the road and rail causeway across the lagoon to Ferrovia, the main station. Yes, you can take the vaporetti (a municipal waterbus) to your chosen sights, and we did take a long leisurely trip on one completely around the city... but there is plenty of land to walk on and make you own really good, if haphazard, trail through the streets. Getting lost is actually a lot of fun if you don't have to hurry back anywhere!
Although the main thoroughfares are crowded during daytime, only a short side-street away and you will lose the crowds almost entirely... and maybe too some of the hostility and arrogance that we found from the locals who work here. In the backstreets and alleys (calli) the food is better and cheaper and you find fascinating nooks and crannies, churches and bridges, artisans, shoemakers and stonemasons, all well worth investigating. It's a perennial fascination to see how the Venetian community works and lives in such a unique surrounding.
The city is divided into six districts (sestieri) to explore... Dorsoduro near the Accademia Bridge for one, is where we found Mondonovo Maschere a traditional carnival mask-maker's shop run by Guerrino Levato (Rio Terą Canal)... an Aladdin's cave of amazing original and traditional designs. The Rialto Market in San Polo is best explored early morning, not only to see the amazing display of fish fruit & veg, but to get an uninterrupted view of the world famous Rialto Bridge before all the day-trippers arrive. Remember, cruise ships dock here and their guided tours can make the streets really busy. If you can, make sure your visit extends into the evening, when many of the crowds have gone... and you see real Venetian life in the side streets before supper. Locals eat early here, and apart from mostly classical concerts in churches, there is not a great deal of nightlife to be had. Nevertheless, it really is a truly memorable and atmospheric visit.
MORE IN DEBRA'S DIARY
|East European Cities|
|Classic Tour Scotland|
|Italy 5terre Venice|
|Italy III Campania|
|Italy IV TuscanyRome|
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