Hi From Rick: Coastal Enchantments
|Vernazza's old pirate castle is the perfect perch for enjoying the Cinque Terre.|
Kicking back anywhere along Europe's meandering southern shore always enchants me — whether I'm gazing at Morocco from the top of Gibraltar, nursing a beer outside a little café cut into Dubrovnik's mighty wall as boats lazily sail into an Adriatic sunset, or surveying Italy's rugged Cinque Terre National Park from a hill-capping castle.
Enjoying a perch atop Vernazza's old pirate lookout (my favorite view along the Cinque Terre), the castle no longer has a reason to warn, "Stay away!" More than a hundred feet below, the village's breakwater — a broad, inviting sidewalk edged with seaside boulders — pokes out into the sea like a curved finger beckoning distant excursion boats. From the top of my medieval lookout, I study the arrangement that man and nature have carved out over the last fifteen centuries. Crumpled hills come with topographical lines: a terraced, green bouquet of cactus, grapevines, and olive trees.
With a closer look, the hills silently seethe with activity: locals tending their vines and hikers working up a thirst for the fresh white wine these hills have produced since Roman times. The single silvery rail of the tiny grape pickers' train — the trenino — scales the hillside like a rock climber's rope. It's harvest time and the trenino is busy ferrying grapes down into town from the high terraces.
Ever since the day when the last pirate traded his pistol for a postcard rack, Europe's southern coastal crannies have enchanted travelers looking for la dolce vita — the sweet life — in half-a-dozen different languages and cultures. In this month's Travel News we'll give you a little taste, with an article on Italy's Cinque Terre and a first look at our brand new Best of the Adriatic tour. You'll also find news and handy information on a bunch of destinations inland from the coast, which aren't half bad, either.
Europe beckons, enchantment awaits. I'm nearly packed.