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Cinque Terre

The Bambino and the Cinque Terre

Picture perfect colourful villages perched on the Italian Coast, wandering the streets drinking wine and eating melt in your mouth pasta and licking gelato while staring out to sea past a jagged and beautiful coastline? Perfect.

It was a dream of mine to visit the Cinque Terre in Italy, but what I didn’t factor into this fantasy was a spirited and sprightly toddler coming along for the ride.

I didn’t envisage chasing my 14 month old down laneways, changing nappies in an alleyway or cowering in the shadows to survive an Italian heatwave but it was all part of the adventure and an unforgettable day.

A day I will remember forever, even more fondly because it was shared with my darling daughter Lucinda.

The adventure started further up the coast in a town called Santa Margherita Ligure (SML) where we stationed ourselves primarily because we found better value for money and a much more suitable hotel for our family.

SML is also about half an hour from the Cinque Terre by train, which we decided as our preferred mode of transport so we could run our own schedule.

People had warned us this was fraught with danger as trains were often crowded but we found it fine, possibly because we got on further up the line and we also opted to head out early.

Mumapeel

My game plan was originally to try and visit four of the five towns of the Cinque Terre, armed with info from the local Tourist Information Desk I planned the train there, local ferries in between towns and the train home.

I thought just taking in four cities would be a good compromise (little did I know).

We started south at Manarola, the second last city from the north and it was just as stunning as I had imagined. My camera was permanently clicking frames, my face plastered with a smile and my eyes wide.

Even the toddler was enthralled by the scene; the people, the beautiful buildings and the excitement of the tourists all hustling for the perfect shot.

Manarola

We settled in for lunch at Trattoria La Scogliera. But after sitting on a train and in her pram from more than an hour Lucinda wanted to roam, and I couldn’t blame her.

My husband and I took turns chasing her up and down the (pedestrian only) street while we waited for lunch.

It was just beautiful watching her interact with tourists and locals alike, smiling and playing Peek-a-boo with a little old lady, dancing for onlookers, making friends with foreigners and posing for pictures. She loved exploring just as much as her Mum and Dad!

Lunch time came and it was like my fairy godmother had waved a magic wand over the plate materializing the most amazing pasta, complete with locally caught Lobster (honestly my first taste of lobster ever and what a place to do so). Luke raved about his dish too and Lucinda seemed to love trying both so it was a win all round.

After lunch we took in the sights of small town of Manarola, which is best seen on the pathway that connects all the towns north and around a headland.

We had planned on walking a bit further and it was surprisingly pram friendly for this leg but the heat was almost unbearable and little Lucinda was dripping with sweat so we doused her in water, and covered her in sunscreen and headed for the ferry.

Cinque TerreCinque Terre

With jagged rocky coastlines there’s no ‘ferry stations’ or waiting areas in Manarola and many of the other towns and by now it was busy, hot and not ideal.

My plan of visiting four towns was quickly changing. Add to this an over crowded ferry and we decided to bypass a visit to Riomaggiore, cruise past Corniglia and even though I desperately wanted to stop at Vernazza, I knew it would be way too much.

The positive was the great view of these towns from the ferry. Once we snagged a seat by the window Lucy was much happier, she loved pointing out the buildings and the boats and we really enjoyed the trip.

Manarola

Our next and last stop was the northern most, and largest, town Monterosso al Mare. We had such an amazing time wandering the streets, eating gelato and drinking frozen homemade lemonade to try and cool down.

We shopped and wandered, took things in at our own pace and again let Lucinda out of her pram to wander and explore herself.

This trip was more about the collective experience rather than ticking off the sights.

Of course we wanted to take in the stunning locations and see all we could but it was more about doing this as a family and having fun, stopping to smell the flowers and not rushing around and missing the fun of our family adventure.

Needless to say we had a very tired and content toddler sleep the whole train journey home.

In a former life Amy Peel was a footloose and fancy free TV Producer travelling Australia and abroad. Now with the addition of toddler Lucinda Louise into the mix the adventures continues but life has well and truly changed. Follow the fun on Instagram @mumapeel or start Chasing Amy.

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