I don’t know how about you but I personally don’t know many people that would say ‘no’ to a delicious, thin Italian pizza, tasty pasta or a dessert such as tiramisu, panna cotta or profiteroles. Actually, I know just one such person and if one day she reads this, she will guess right away that I’m talking about her 🙂

I love pizza and pasta, in almost all sizes and types. To eat Italian in Warsaw, I will go to A modo mio and Non solo pizza in Ochota district or in cosy Bella Napoli in Kondratowicza Street (even though it’s miles away from our house!), where the owner, an elderly gentleman, always greets us with “Buongiorno! Prego!” (“Good morning! Please come in!”). When I cook myself, I usually make pasta alla puttanesca (with tomatoes, anchovies, capers and black olives), amatriciana with bacon, carbonara or traditional bolognese. Recently, I have also learnt how to make tiramisu — and it turned out to be surprisingly easy 🙂 Nevertheless, even though you can get great Italian food in Warsaw and my cooking is also not that bad, the best place to eat pizza, pasta and tiramisu is of course Italy and this is where I will take you now.  As a starter: Liguria and charming towns of Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, the town of Manarola

Cinque Terre, the town of Manarola

Cinque Terre is, as the name suggests, an area of five towns. Five tiny towns I should add, as they have 1,000-2,000 inhabitants each. All of them are situated within a close distance, so you can in fact also visit then on foot, provided that you don’t have a baby in a pram with you ;). Cinque Terre are picturesquely located on hills, with small ports and colourful houses adding to their overall charm. The “group” combines of Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, Riomaggiore and Monterosso, all of which are on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.

A short research after, we decided to choose fishermen’s village Vernazza for our 3-day long stay. It was certainly a good decision in terms of the surrounding landscapes, even if a bit pricey.

Vernazza

We arrived in the town in the early evening. The way there unfortunately wasn’t very pleasant, especially for people suffering from motion sickness. I also wouldn’t recommend it to people, who don’t feel very confident behind the wheel, as it is full of tiring zigzag roads on steep slopes right up to the… car park, as you can’t drive any further than that. There is a shuttle bus, which takes you from the car part to the town and whose driver will chat with you in Polish as his ex-girlfriend was from Poland. It’s a small world 🙂

Finding a room in Vernazza in the first half of September is almost impossible — and the locals are very eager to take advantage of it. A room in Pensione Sorrisso (which was, I think, the largest in terms of the number of rooms) costs at least 140 euro. It’s worth adding that most frequent travellers would assess the real value of the room at no more than 60-70 euro, and the bathroom at 30-40 euro — with a small, old shower, chipped walls and mould on the walls. Oh, the same room with shared bathroom was 100 euro. I think in Władysławowo you would pay about PLN 50 (less than 15 euro) for a similar standard 🙂

Vernazza

Vernazza

The town itself is, however, truly wonderful with its hidden magic reality, colourful houses, green window-shutters, small market squares, boats and cosy Italian restaurants.

Speaking of which: in Gambero Rosso on Piazza Marconi you have to try Paccheri alla Gambero Rosso (pasta with fish and tomatoes) and Ricotta al cioccolata (a soft cheesecake covered in real, thick, velvet-like chocolate and sprinkled with nuts) for dessert. Yummy!

A place not to be missed is also Ristorante Belforte which offers stunning views of the bay, where we accidentally discovered a very nice dish: tuna with caramelised red onion and sprinkled with pine nuts. It’s very easy to prepare, tastes great and will definitely impress your guests 😉 !

As we already know, Cinque Terre means five towns… so:

Uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque….

After a lazy day in Vernazza, we decided to visit the remaining Terre. The best means of transport if you want to go from one town to another in Cinque Terre are trains, which are fast and reliable. In most cases they stop in the centre of town — except for Corniglia, where you have to walk quite a while to get to your destination. Additionally, the way is quite a nuisance, as you either have to walk on the side of the road in scorching heat or climb a couple of hundred of stairs. And you know what? The reward, Corniglia, is not worth it.

Bruschetta with anchovis and capers — simple and tasty

Bruschetta with anchovis and capers — simple and tasty

We started our trip with Riomaggiore, which lies very close to La Spezia and a long distance from Vernazza. We went through a short tunnel and found ourselves on the main street near a small bay. Let me warn you that with stairs everywhere, narrow passages and tiny restaurants this isn’t a place for parents with children in prams. The view, however, was breathtaking and we managed to eat a good bruschetta with anchovies and capers. Though its price was not so good — as all prices in Cinque Terre. How much would you be willing to pay for this nice thing in the picture? Well, you’re right — 9 euro is a bit too much 🙂 That’s why it’s a great idea to prepare one of those at home 🙂

Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore

We took a train from Riomaggiore and went to Manarola, a beautifully located town with a charming boulevard right near the sea… Manarola is small and colourful, just as the rest of Cinque Terre, and a place where we had one of the best fritturas (deep fried fish and sea food) in the world! Looks divine, doesn’t it? 🙂

Perfectly crispy prawns and squid

Perfectly crispy prawns and squid

We left Corniglia for the end and, as I’ve mentioned earlier, it wasn’t worth the long way in heat we had to walk. It’s the only one of Cinque Terre towns not situated right by the seaside and in September it definitely made it less charming…

However, as we found out not long after, this drawback turned out to be a “life saver” for Cornigla when at the end of October Cinque Terre was flooded 🙁 Was it our last chance to see this part of Italy? I hope not… I hope that soon everything will be back to normal and all travellers longing for beautiful views and Italian delicacies will have a chance to get there…

As for now… our favourite market square in Vernazza has almost disappeared. Not exactly a happy end, is it?  And it was so beautiful… Well, all that’s left is to believe that the sun always comes out, even after the worst storm — and that it will shine here too. I wish you this faith in sun coming out in all situations, very important and not so important, too:)