We strolled up the main drag out of town and ended up at the last possible place for breakfast. Passable, but still too expensive for my sensibilities. We packed up our backpacks, purchased a combo hiking pass and local train ticket and headed off on the main trail linking the five towns of CinqueTerre. Robert was our leader, spying the white and red trail markers well before any of the rest of us (and leading a few other parties through the towns on occasion).
Vernazza is town number two (counting from north to south), so we headed first on the difficult stretch south to Corniglia. The trail was about of the quality one finds on Mt. Rainier, with lots of ups and downs, around and over the headlands. It was warm and sunny, so we got a good workout. Around 12:30 we reached the town and concocted a very nice lunch from two bars and one alimentari. The next stretch, to Manarola, was shorter and less severe, but not as scenic. I found Manarola to be my favorite town, but perhaps that’s because a student of mine sent me a postcard from there about fifteen years ago, and its been on my office bulletin board ever since. (Photo 61) We made a gelato stop, most likely our last, since tomorrow we leave Italy.
The final leg, into Riomaggiore, was wide, well-paved and close to flat. We arrived at the train station to learn that we’d missed a train by ten minutes. However, there was another train in about twenty minutes. Ooops, only on Sunday. And the next train after that was direct to the first town, with no stop in Vernazza. Finally we decided to take the direct train, check-out the one town we’d not seen, Monterosso, and then catch an all-stops train about fifty minutes later back into Vernazza. A good plan, except that the final train was about fourty-five minutes late. Fortunately our Italian has improved to the point that we recognized that an intervening train was going to Pisa and further points and we didn’t board it.
Back home, the boys worked on journals, scrapbooks and homework, while I tried again to contact American Airlines by phone to retrieve the last Game Boy, and did some email at an Internet cafe. Robert received a very nice note with well-wishes from many of his classmates. Robert struggled to begin doing long-division with decimals with no instruction (since I was gone) but we managed to get him back on track when I returned.