Amber and I got married in Big Sur, a wild stretch of the California coast where steep mountains plunge into the sea. Well, if Big Sur was a little warmer, had a smattering of quaint villages clinging to the cliffs and the mountains were stacked with vineyards, it would look a lot like the Cinque Terre.

Something else about the Cinque Terre reminded us of Big Sur: It was on fire. California is the land of wildfires, and Big Sur had some pretty substantial ones a couple years ago. When we arrived at our first stop in the Cinque Terre, Corniglia, we were greeted by smoke rising from the hills and a water-carrying helicopter buzzing overhead. The town wasn’t threatened, but the phone lines were down for awhile.

The five towns of the Cinque Terre are connected by a wonderful walking trail — it hugs the mountainside above the coast. Stretches between towns range from a 20-minute walk to two hours.

The whole time I was in the Cinque Terre villages (except resort-y Monterosso) I felt like I was on a movie set. The streets, more like pathways, were narrow and windy; the buildings, like row houses from the middle ages, stacked together like four-story jigsaw puzzles. The place seemed so unlikely. And so likeable.

(Click the thumbnails to enlarge … )

  1. Another knock-out punch! What an eye you have. Awesome stuff.

  2. Mom says it would be fun to have a jigsaw puzzle of the first photo of the town on the hillside.

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