Guest article by Rivka Cymbalist, author of The Birth Conspiracy
Our favorite picnic spot in the world – and there are some other serious contenders – is not your classic picnic spot. We have had memorable picnics there for ten years now and I have decided to share our secret. We’ve done a fiftieth birthday there, and an eightieth, and we’ve watched many sunsets: I hope we will enjoy many more, and I hope you will too. You need a car to get there – or a motorbike – or you could do it on a bicycle.
I am sure many of you have visited the Cinque Terre. Whether you enjoy swimming at Manarola (or jumping off the rock into the water – or watching your kids do so), or hiking above the villages, or just sitting in one of the many cafes, admiring the stunning view and feeling happy to be alive, the Cinque Terre is a magical place that never ceases to please. So, when we are done with our activities, we are always looking for more, and because we love picnics, what better idea than to bring a picnic and eat it watching the sun setting behind the cliffs?
A warning, however: this is not a picnic table spot – being from Canada, we are familiar with the wooden tables and cleared forests a la Yogi Bear. Neither is it your green meadow, where you spread your checkered tablecloth and eat cold chicken from a hamper a la Wind in the Willows. No, this is your do-it-yourself spot, and I assure you the results will be memorable.
Here are the directions from Manarola:
As you drive up from Manarola, instead of turning right to head back to La Spezia, you turn left, in the direction of Volastra. Follow the road through Volastra, and as you drive out of that village, you will pass a small olive grove on your right. Start looking for lay-bys on the road – they will be on the opposite side as you are on the inside lane. You will pass one lay-by. It is the second one you want, but you won’t want to do a U-turn right there. Go a little further and you will reach a lay-by on the right, where you can safely turn around. Drive back slowly to the spot – it will be the second one you pass on the right.
There it is! A small monorail track, where you can spread your checkered tablecloth – unless you happen to have a folding picnic table in your car! You can also sit on the monorail, if you wish. The view is stunning – you can see Manarola to your left, and the setting sun to your right, and enjoy your picnic.
Menu of choice:
Bread, tinned tuna, various cheeses, olives, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers….bring a knife, a few plastic plates or paper napkins, and a bottle of beer if you’re so inclined.
If you are traveling with small children, remember you are at the side of the road – when our youngest was that age he was happy to sit in the driver’s seat of the monorail to eat his picnic. As the occasional car or motorbike drives by, you will notice the envious look on the passengers’ faces – “Why didn’t we think of that?” It is an experience you will want to repeat.
When you’re all packed up and the sun is on its way down, drive another couple of kilometers towards La Spezia and stop at the Bar il Giardino. It will be on your right, past the turnoff for Riomaggiore. It is a lovely place to have a drink and look out at the view.
Photos courtesy of Rivka Cymbalist.
Read Rivka’s other articles on Ciao Lunigiana.
An unusual picnic spot in the Cinque Terre appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 24 July 2013. All rights reserved.