Travel Diaries: Cinque Terre and Pesto
I’ve been sitting here trying to think of words to describe this place.
Geographically it’s easy to pinpoint. It’s on the Northwest coast of Italy, along the Italian Riviera.
Cinque Terre is five coastal villages linked together by an assortment of tumultuous steps, lighter trails, and vivid natural growth. But in terms of beauty, in terms of physical description for the eyes, all I can say is that it will literally take your breath away (the hikes and the scenery).
The two words need to be breathed with a sigh of soul warming splendor. It’s a place that looks like it doesn’t belong in this world. The place is more akin to the Garden of Eden than to what any tour/guide-book tries to do it justice with its picturesque images.
It is rugged, rich, raw. It is Italy in all it’s splendor of good people, generous afternoons, and glorious food.
I visited Cinque Terre, and stayed specifically in Vernazza, during my spring break of my semester abroad. My older sister met me in Italy and we took the trip of our lives.
But I’m not going to try to describe the towns or the hikes right now (let’s just say my sister and I had no clue about the volcano eruption because we were in a state of complete gluten, gelato bliss).
Instead I’m going to take you through a recipe (thanks Mom!) to try and give you a flavor of Vernazza.
Of course it’s nothing like the real thing, straight from the vineyard slopes or the mounds of basil plants, but it’s pretty close in my opinion.
You see, the rugged mountains and hills and coast give the flavors of this region a specific taste that is cultivated all their own. As much as we may try to recreate it, it is nearly impossible without the fresh basil leaves from the land of Cinque Terre, a region renown for its pesto.
Though I may not taste the distinctly divine pesto of Cinque Terre in the near future, I’m not afraid to repeatedly try to recreate it.
And I’ll eat my way through my attempts with a smile of memories and a sigh of nostalgia.
So after you finish booking your trip to Italy, specifically Cinque Terre, make this.
Go find yourself:
1 large bunch of fresh Basil (about 2 cups…pretend it’s from Vernazza)
2 fresh cloves of Garlic (I used paste, so easy)
3 T. of Parmesan (freshly grated is preferred, fail on my part)
1 wedge of Lemon, squeezed (no seeds!)
1 1/2 T. of chopped Walnuts
1/4 tsp. of Cracked Pepper
4 T. Water
2 T. Olive Oil
Blend all ingredients together after layering on top of the basil in your food processor.
After it’s well-blended, let it sit to thicken.
Then you’re going to want to dollop it on a pizza.
When I ordered Pesto Pizza in Vernazza, I received a pizza with red sauce, cheese, and pesto.
Trust me. The mix of red and green sauce is a beautiful contradiction.
Cultural bliss awaits your tongue and soul.