|Hike up to punta mesco, semaforo|
|This part required my hands.|
I'm a little clumsy and more then a little bit of a worrier, so I've had a long standing battle with the famous trails of the Cinque Terre. It's mortifying. The Via Dell'Amore, a paved, wide, flat 30 minute walkway that is more of a street then a hiking trail, is the only one I mustered the courage to putter through. People visiting ask me all the time for recommendations, hike times, preferences, and after a while of muttering my way of of answering, I did what all good nerdy people do.
I googled it.
Then it happened. The Via Dell'Amore that I'd done several times was damaged by a freak rockslide in October this year that sadly sent some Australian tourists to the hospital. My faithful, easy little stroller friendly path was closed and that was it for me. If I could get hurt there, it could happen anywhere. It was time to do some hiking and see for myself.
|Don't. Look. Down.|
It was more then worth it.
We had a short picnic lunch on top of the semaforo, which is a small structure built onto a high point of the mountain that was used as a stop light of sorts (semaforo means stoplight) to herald ships into the stretch of Ligurian Sea. Also home to the moss covered, sun glinting ruins of a sanctuary to Saint Anthony, it was a beautiful spot to stop and bask in the endless blue in front of us and smile into the January sun.
|The last part winds through the woods into Levanto.|
Almost 2 hours later, I arrived happily safe and sound in Levanto. We walked up and down the mountain with an incredible, breathtaking view (quite literally breathtaking if you were bold enough to look down - I didn't want to press my luck so far), and I wasn't hyperventilating of anything other then physical exertion. The trail, though quite narrow in parts, had enough space from the edge for me to feel like I wouldn't fall into the crashing sea below, and though some parts of the path were covered in wet stones (it rained the day before), it wasn't incredibly difficult. The rest of the time I was concentrating too much to really feel anxiety about the incredible height, and the other parts I was just looking out to the sea and sky in awe.
|Friendly trail cat.|
I felt comforted by the later learned fact that in January, the trails haven't been "put together" yet for the coming season, and were still a little rough. Not that they ever get to Disneyland theme park status - though I now understand it's not as petrifying as I thought, it's definitely something to respect and take seriously. You are still on the side of the mountain. Don't wear low heels. No matter who you are, hiking a mountain trail, especially for a novice, is something you want to take care doing.
Having said that, I was rewarded with a whole bunch of self-pride and even more great pictures. As we climbed down into Levanto, the sky filled up with clouds. We timed it perfectly. Though I already thought where I lived was pretty amazing, this pretty much did it for me. It's an incredibly special, unique, beautiful thing to live in a place laced with these old trails.
Sometimes, it's hard to see the small changes in my personality that have happened in the past few years here. I never would have done this years ago - in fact, on my first trip to Monterosso eight years ago, I didn't. I flatly refused. We all change everyday, and aside from the obvious (like learning a foreign language), the smaller, more subtile changes may not be so easy to see.
Sometimes, it takes climbing up a mountain to really figure out how far you have come.