This past weekend I made a long four day trip to the Cinque Terre or "Five Lands" on the Italian Riviera. We took a quick train from Rome to La Spezia, one of Italy's largest commercial harbors and then took a short regional train ride to Riomaggiore. We stayed in an amazing bed and breakfast in the heart of the town with the first real beds we've found. We woke up the next morning after a great sleep and hiked from Riomaggiore, the southernmost town to Monterosso al Mare. Along the way we stopped in the small villages of Manarola, Corniglia and Vernazza. The land in between the small villages is almost entirely national park with a few vineyards in between.
The region is known for their white wine and seafood. After each long day of hiking we stopped to have a long traditional Italian dinner. By ordering the local specialities I got the best seafood of my life. The first night I ordered a Grilled Sea Bass, and I got the whole thing. Head, eyeballs and everything! It was delicious and we finished the meal with a Nutella Tiramisu. The most amazing desert I've had and I am now committed to finding it in Rome.
The best food we found was in Manarola, the next town over from where we stayed, and one of the only towns still open. Because of extreme flooding and mud slides this past October many of the other towns are partially closed. The town of Vernazza got the worst of the storm and many of the damage is still visible, including a crushed Fiat in the town harbor. Luckily, this didn't deplete from the beauty of the region and we were still able to see the amazing seaside architecture built into the valley walls along the coast.