44:08.01N 09:40.00E Vernazza
We were so lucky on leaving St. Margherita to the girls delight to watch several families of dolphin working the bay and pushing the fish up for their breakfast. It was very close to Portofino and we thought at one point a small group were working their way into the harbour entrance. There was one which was “handbag” size.
We sailed and tacked to Vernazza for a short stop only on our way to La Spezia bay as there is no harbour to hide in at Vernazza and the sea was very roly.
Between Levante and the Gulf of La Spezia lies the mountainous area known as the Cinque Terre. It is five remote villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore located on the rocky coastline of the Riveria di Levante. Until recently the only way to visit these villages was by boat or on foot by the ancient footpath known as the Sentiero Azzurro or Blue Path. Menterosso al Mare and Vernazza are built out from the cliffs and rocks at the bottom of steep slopes. The region is known for its white sweet wine called ‘Sciacchetra’.
These five villages suffer from depopulation. In order to preserve this Unesco world heritage site from the collapsing terraces and soil erosion a plan was drawn up. Parcels of land would be leased free of charge to individuals who in turn will cultivate the land. This includes rebuilding the web of stone walls criss-crossing the slopes, and to cultivate traditional crops of organic lemons, basil and vines on the restored terraces.
After walking around the town and meeting up with lots of Americans we made our way back to Ariel and set off for La Spezia bay as we could not stay here. We knew it would be dark before we got there and it was.