Look, Ma! No Hands!

The Cinque Terre, along with being a famous area for olive growing, fishing, hiking, and pesto, is also reknowned for its wine. I have mentioned previously (several times!) the delicious dessert wine produced here: Sciacchetra’, but these hills also produce other delicious white wines.

You may wonder how in the world could wine be cultivated on such steep terrain, especially as you walk along the cliffs that plunge dramatically down to the sea. Over hundreds of years, the industrious residents of the Cinque Terre have cleverly cultivated their earth by creating miles of terracing that striate the hills like a striped shirt.

I read that there are over 4,000 miles of stone walls that form these terraced vineyards — all built without mortar. Well and good, but once all those vines have produced grapes, how could you ever cultivate them? The answer is the trenino.

A trenino is a little train that runs on a monorail. Looking more like a fun carnival ride, they wind around, up, and down the green terraces of the Cinque Terre hills, carrying plastic boxes laden with the harvested grapes. It’s ingenius.


Imagine zipping along these cliffs on this tiny monorail



Trucks meet the trenini to cart the boxes of grapes
the rest of the way down


We were fascinated and spent several minutes staring across the valley watching the workers who fearlessly rode the trenini. Often they rode standing up, not hanging on to a thing, as the little trains clung to the steep hillside.

This guy is talking on a cell phone,
oblivious that he is hanging hundreds of feet over the sea



And this guy is standing up -- without holding onto anything


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