The Cinque Terre in itself is a pretty amazing place. Five villages full of colourful houses precariously squashed together on jagged cliff edges, overlooking the Ligurian Sea. Steep and narrow streets make up the towns that are filled with gelatarias and cute little cafes.
There is no sense of rush in this part of the world and the locals live by the motto ‘la dolce vita’ – the sweet life. However, the relaxed way of life and beautiful scenery make the Cinque Terre a big draw card for tourists. They fill the streets, block the walking trails and pack the locally run restaurants.
To escape this, there is one place you can stay where you will truly experience la dolce vita.
In my mad search for accommodation for a sneaky long weekend trip to Italy, I came across this gem on AirBnb and instantly I knew I had to stay there. ‘The Heart of the Cinque’ is located right at the centre of the Cinque Terre National Park, halfway between Vernazza and Corniglia in the small (very small) village of Prevo. I crossed my fingers as I made a booking request and thanks to the Gods of Pizza, our dates were accepted and my friend and I were off on an Italian adventure!
We arrived in Vernazza after a 3.5-hour train ride from Milan. After refuelling ourselves with pizza and coffee in a small café we pulled our backpacks on and started the uphill trek on the Blue Path to find our home for the next few nights.
We had some rough directions from our AirBnb host Pierpaulo which we hoped were right as the sweat started to drip down our back with every step we took.
After what felt like an eternity – but really was about 20 minutes – we reached the tiny village of Prevo. If I hadn’t seen the small sign in the archway, we probably would have kept on walking to Corniglia.
Knocking on the wooden door, we were greeted by Pierpaulo and a jug of cold water. Catching our breath in the shade, Pierpaulo gave us some information about the place.
We were sitting 208 metres above sea level, at the mountainous point of Sentiero Azzurro. The two cottages have been renovated to stay close to its historical roots and while simple, it was more than what we needed. The outdoor kitchen and wood-fire oven looks out to the Ligurian Sea, making cooking a feast for all your senses. There were several sunbeds for us to sprawl out on and bask in the Italian sun and just unwind, giving us a chance to really feel like we were in paradise.
Of course however, the urge to explore was too strong so we spent the rest of the day down in the village of Corniglia, eating gelato and browsing through the many shops. This is how we spent the majority of our time in the Cinque Terre, hiking from village to village (or catching the boat when we were too lazy to walk) sunbaking and asking each other “Is it gelato o’clock yet?”
It felt like we had truly achieved la dolce vita.
We immersed ourselves in the colourful villages, amongst the hordes of tourists and ticked off all the bucket list items. We learnt the history of the area and bought a few too many bottles of limoncello. When the crowds and noise became too much we grabbed a few supplies and walked up the hill to our little slice of heaven.
The sky would explode with colour as the sun settled over the Ligurian Sea, while we cooked a simple dinner of pasta and locally made pesto. The silence of our surroundings was a welcome change to the commotion of the villages below us and I knew leaving here was going to be tough.
Our final morning in Prevo was an overcast rainy day so Pierpaulo offered to drive us to the train station instead of us trekking down the slippery trail with our backpacks. Intrigued to see how the locals got around, we jumped at the offer and strapped ourselves in tightly as Pierpaulo negotiated the curly, cliff side road like a pro.
We arrived at the train station in Corniglia safe but sad to be leaving this beautiful part of the world. It was such a contrast to the hustle and bustle of our everyday life and made me think that the Italians are really onto something with this la dolce vita business.
Jess Buchan is an Aussie travel blogger who has lived in Europe and loves to share her travel stories on her blog http://ablondeandherpassport.com
Instagram: @ablondeandherpassport Twitter @ablondeandher
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.