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Travel Diaries: Cinque Terre and Pesto

September 28, 2010

Cinque Terre.

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).

Cinque Terre.

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.

*This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2010 10:43 am

    1) I must go there

    2) I need more pesto!! I made some a few weeks back and fell in love 🙂 Made everything better!!

    • Natalia permalink*
      September 28, 2010 11:17 am

      Agree and agree!

  2. September 28, 2010 10:49 am

    Thanks for your entry and good luck! Did you tweet your entry mentioning us? I can’t see it.

    • Natalia permalink*
      September 28, 2010 11:17 am

      I don’t have a twitter account or else I would; hope that’s alright.

  3. September 28, 2010 11:00 am

    Mmm, delicious. Cinque Terre is high on my Must Go Soon list. Was the water swimmable over Spring break? or too cold? I have kids that would want to know…

    • Natalia permalink*
      September 28, 2010 11:20 am

      We had beautiful weather when we went (that’s a lot of w’s!) but it wasn’t particularly swimming weather. A good number of bold souls braved the water but mid-April the water was cooler. Please let me know if/when you go!

  4. September 28, 2010 12:07 pm

    Wow the pictures are so stunning! What a beautiful paradise!
    The pesto looks yummy! Thanks for this delicious recipe 🙂

  5. September 28, 2010 1:15 pm

    Oh my goodness I love Cinque Terre!!! It was my second favorite place in all of my Europe travels. Soooo gorgeous!!

  6. September 28, 2010 8:28 pm

    Beautiful pictures! I love pesto too.

  7. September 29, 2010 3:25 pm

    I hiked Cinque Terre about 10 years ago. It was amazing. Thanks for bringing back the memory today!

  8. September 29, 2010 4:00 pm

    I’m making this pizza. It looks so yummy!

  9. September 29, 2010 9:36 pm

    That is one place I REALLY want to visit – gorgeous pictures!

  10. September 30, 2010 2:21 am

    Great place, delicious food!! I am a pesto lover so this is a winner for me! 🙂

  11. October 1, 2010 10:48 am

    Beautiful pictures! Wish I were there. I’ve read so much about this enchanting place. Someday…
    Good luck with your competition!

  12. October 3, 2010 11:46 pm

    Cinque terre has been on my wishlist for too long already and you’ve just reminded me why i must go – your photos of the scenery are brilliant

  13. May 1, 2011 1:25 pm

    hey girl, thanks for the comment! and trust me, I am TOTALLY with you on the exam studying procrastination thing. i have found just about every excuse in the book this weekend to put it off. By the way, this place looks ahhh-mazing. I’m studying in Italy next semester so I will definitely need to make a trip up there!

    • Natalia permalink*
      May 1, 2011 2:24 pm

      How exciting!! I loved backpacking through Italy. I would go back in a heartbeat! Where are you studying?

      • May 1, 2011 3:04 pm

        I’m studying in Florence, but I plan on traveling as much as possible!

      • Natalia permalink*
        May 5, 2011 3:55 pm

        I traveled through Florence by train and the scenery…no words. I’m so excited for you to go! Feel free to hit me up, I would love to help if I can in any way.


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