I’m on a boat! To Portovenere…

We stood in a single file line on a staircase against the rocks watching the boat come into Riomaggiore.  There was no dock to disembark from, but a small metal gangplank which bucked precariously on the waves. The boarding process was an impressive dance with a careful rhythm: wait until the waves calm for a quick instant, then dart on the boat fast as you can. This went on for 20 minutes or so as the crowd on the steps waited anxiously.

After the boarding excitement, it was a warm, breezy but exceedingly pleasant ride to Portovenere, another one of the Italian Riviera towns Liguria is known for. Our journey to Portovenere included a bonus tour of the surrounding small islands, so we stayed aboard for the scenic ride.

Back in Portovenere, I gained more appreciation for the Cinque Terre’s rustic beauty.  While lovely, Portovenere is just another tourist town in my eyes. We had some focaccia and beer as part of our focaccia sampling mission and shopped for olive oil before refreshing ourselves with a gelato and prosecco in the town’s main piazza.  I think the best part of the day for us was simply being on the boat on a warm day and seeing Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Corniglia from the water as we returned to Cinque Terre. If you have limited time in Cinque Terre, stick to the five towns and pass on Portovenere.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2014.

Advertisements

Cinque Terre Oasis: Buranco Winery

“Don’t come here. It’s terrible. And crowded…Just kidding, it’s heaven.” This was Becky’s caption as she posted a photo of Buranco Winery and I couldn’t agree more.

On the morning of her birthday, I found Becky sitting in the window of her room in our little Riomaggiore flat looking at the ocean. While I got ready for our day, Becky went to our favorite focacceria Te La Do Io La Merenda, and picked up some focaccia for breakfast on our terrace.  Fortified for the day, we headed out on the train to Monterosso, the largest of the five Cinque Terre towns, to locate Buranco Winery.

It turns out the vineyard wasn’t too hard to find, just a quick walk uphill from the center of town.  A cheerfully painted wine barrel greeted us at the entrance, and when we walked in, we saw the main house and a spacious patio looking over to the valley below and the vines on the hill above. When we arrived, there were only two other people visiting the winery: an American couple who departed shortly after we were served our first glass of the tasting. After that, it was just Becky and I soaking up the sun, looking out over the vines, and enjoying a generous wine flight and little plate of complimentary bruschetta. We then decided to sample Buranco’s olive oil and honey, and finally, one more glass of wine as we watched paragliders soar over the Ligurian hillside. The local wine was lovely, but instead of a bottle of red, I had to take home what turned out to be a very large bottle of grassy olive oil.  Well worth it to add the extra weight to my suitcase.

All told I think we were at Buranco a grand total of four blissful hours. The great thing was that the helpful staff had no interest in ushering us off – they were quite happy to have us visit as long as we wanted. And as a result, we really didn’t want to leave!  Becky and I really couldn’t believe our luck to have this incredibly beautiful place all to ourselves – such a great birthday present for Becky!  Buranco is also an agriturismo – a local inn on site of a working farm – and if the service for a tasting is any indication, I’m sure it’s a welcoming place to stay. I will have to try it on my next visit!

As the afternoon wore on, we decided it was probably best we continue Becky’s birthday in Manarola, as we wanted to have dinner at the home of the tastiest pesto we found on our last trip, Trattoria Il Porticciolo.  This was the point at which we decided it would be a great idea to take a boat to Manarola as opposed to the train. And this is when we ended up hitching a ride on a boat to Vernazza instead, refreshing ourselves with gelato at the other fabulous Il Porticciolo, the best gelateria in Vernazza. After a lovely afternoon in Vernazza, we made it to Manarola, only to find that Il Porticciolo was closed. We enjoyed the “magic hour” and sunset in Manarola, maybe the most picturesque of the Cinque Terre towns, before heading back to Riomaggiore. Dinner was at another of our favorite spots from the last trip, Veciu Muin, for a trio of spaghetti. Tasty and reasonably priced, this place is no frills but good quality, and easy stumbling distance from our Riomaggiore apartment.

I think it would be hard to have a bad day in Cinque Terre, but this was a pretty incredible day, to say the least. 🙂 Grazie, famiglia Buranco!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2014.