2014/11/9: Cinque Terre National Park
Cinque Terre is not far south of San Rocco. It’s comprised of five coastal villages that date from the 11th century when the area was under control of the Republic of Genoa. Once isolated from each other, they are now connected by a hiking trail, the railway, and in some seasons by coastal boats. From San Rocco we hurtled downhill to Rapallo and caught a train through tunnels along rugged coast to Monterosso, the northernmost Cinque Terre village. Also on the train was a large group of French hikers who helped us get our bikes off the train. Car access within the park is controlled and expensive, and you need to buy a permit to hike the park trails.
The day was a gem of sunny weather in an otherwise stormy spell. We cycled upward for 500 m (vertical) and found our way onto a tiny paved road that follows the contour, with spectacular views at every turn. We met a few other cyclists, and watched para gliders take off. From the tiny village of Volastra, we picked our way on a muddy track along the contour for another 10 km. An electric fence ran along the lower side of the track, and we guessed it was to keep cinghiale out of the vineyards below. We pushed bikes uphill for a steep kilometre before descending to La Spezia and calling it an early night.
2014/11/10: Train to Cecina
The coastal road runs through busy urban and industrial areas, so we did a planned move by train to Tuscany. The weather was stormy; not a bad day for a logistical move. I enjoyed listening to the train departure announcements; I love the sounds of this language; no wonder opera began here! Underpasses to the right train platform presented the challenge of getting loaded bikes down and up stairs in a venue where we are also wary of pickpockets. There are some elevators, but the ones that were not out of order were only big enough for a wheelchair. Thunder and lightning rolled around us; rain lashed against train windows. Just before arriving in Cecina, we heard a loud crack — and the train came to a halt. Either the train was struck, or perhaps the power supply line or the track itself. We sat among flooded fields for almost an hour, and eventually moved on again to Cecina. By the time we finished our lunch it was a soggy mid afternoon, so we stayed in town rather than start riding eastward that day.