Day 4: Bellinzona, Cinque Terre and Driving Misadventures

Square at the Farmer’s Market

Day 4 was another big driving day.  A few weeks earlier, we figured out there was an “extra” day before we were expected at the villa.  I thought the check-in was Saturday but it was Sunday.  I thought that it would be cool to check out Cinque Terre so I booked an Airbnb without doing the level of research I had done for the other places.  All I knew is that the total drive time to Umbria would be about the same and, in fact, a stop in Cinque Terre would be a nice way to break up the trip.

Castelgrande

On the way down, we decided to stop in Bellinzona.  I love Bellinzona or rather, I love the Amerena gelato at Gelateria Venata in Bellinzona!  SMS drove over a mountain pass from Trun- there was even a brief snow flurry!  We arrived a little early so we walked around Bellinzona.  We thought we would be gone before the gelateria opened but we came across a farmer’s market (with a delicious risotto and polenta “samosa”).  We also walked around the Castelgrande.  It was a great morning and finished with ice cream!

Looking down from the Castelgrande wall

So, look at the following map.  Doesn’t it look easy?

Such cute, squiggly Microsoft Paint lines.  What could be more simple, more cute?  OMG.  It was a pretty nightmare drive on backroads that ranged from 1.5-1 lanes but with two-way traffic the entire way.  What I thought would be a quick drive off the road was a 45 minute slog in the best conditions, about 75 minutes due to poor directions.  I realized later that the map was made by a guy who lived and drove there all the time and was not very helpful to someone unfamiliar to the area.  There were a LOT more turns than indicated on the map and it was a really stressful drive.  SMS was a living saint and didn’t snap at any point, which is really admirable.  I am almost certain that I would not have been as understanding.

Looking North…

Once we got to Cinque Terre, the place was beautiful but very basic.  There was nowhere to eat or drink nearby and I hadn’t thought to stock up or bring a picnic-style dinner.  Ugh, this was such a bomb of a side trip.

Looking towards Corniglia

Other than the fact that we were in a beautiful place.  That made me feel a little better.  We drove down to Corniglia and ate at a restaurant overlooking the little cove and larger Ligurian Sea.  The food was fine but the view was spectacular.

We went back to the AirBnb and went to bed.  Would I recommend it?  Sort of.  As SMS said, it was more of a stay-a-few-nights type of place rather than a one night.  Plus, compared to some other places we went on the trip, I preferred those to the super-touristy Cinque Terre.  The towns were pretty much only tourist-driven (it seemed).  Although we went to some other places that attracted tourists, it always seemed that tourism was part of the city’s lifeblood, not the entire existence.  I’m sure there would be plenty of people who disagree and don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful place- I just have other places higher on my favorites list.  In fairness, I think the drive really took a lot out of my enjoyment and if we had taken the train in and actually been in a town rather than between two, it may have been a lot better experience.

 

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