After Florence, we traveled to Italy's western Ligurian coast to see the famed Cinque Terre villages, a series of five impossibly quaint villages dotting the rocky coastline. We stayed outside the industrial hub of the area, La Spezia, overlooking the Golfo dei Poeti (Gulf of Poets), where poets and artists (including Lord Byron!) have come for centuries to absorb the beauty. Our first night, we went to Porto Venere, an honorary "sixth village" of the Cinque Terre, at the tip of a peninsula. Less secluded than the "Cinque", but also less touristed, it was wonderful to spend time in this charming and beautiful town.
It felt more like a beach town for Italian tourists, rather than the international hotspot that the Cinque Terre have become. It was fun watching the Italian families gather, nap, chat, and relax under the shady, seaside trees.
A nearby wedding brought glamorously dressed guests, mixing with the older locals who sat and watched the sea and the visitors pass by.
We enjoyed a perfect sunset over the marina as boats bobbed in the tide and seagulls soared overhead.
The next day, it was on to Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre villages. It's not hard to see why the towns are so heavily touristed, as you see the gorgeous, brightly-colored houses tumble down impossibly steep streets into the lapping waves of a grotto at the seas edge.
Up the inclines, the town dissolves into sweeping hills of vineyards that surround the city.
The bustling town during the day is a far cry from its quaint, isolated former days as crowds of foreign tourists pour in every hour on the trains.
Although Manarola is without a true beach, dozens of sun-worshippers plop themselves out on the hot, steep pavement near the grotto to soak up the rays. Chris and I dubbed it "walrus-ing".
Both men and women donned their teeniest bathing suits to display their tanned and toned physiques. No complaints!
As the sun set, the crowds began to thin, the walruses departed, and the town began to feel small and cut off from the modern world again. I made this last drawing inside the grotto, perched on a rock as I watched a group of girls swimming and jumping from the cliffs into the water below. What a magical place!
This post is part of a series of travel illustration from a three week tour of Italy. For more of Evan Turk's travel illustration, check out the link below: