Exploring & Escapades

bits & pieces of my travels

Tag: Italy

Cinque Terre, Another Day

My impressions of Cinque Terre are mixed. In a sense, it’s like a Disney World – crowded, connected, seemingly fake and over the top, but also purely magical. A dream that’s real. The culture, the food, the sun, the sea – it’s all real. It’s simple and calming. Colorful.

I feel like I shouldn’t, but I want to go back.

From my notes:

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After our initial tour of the five villages the day before, we didn’t have any plans scheduled for today. Our friends were leaving to head to Verona, and the two of us had to move to a new, smaller place to say, though it was too early to access the room. We decided, while we waited, to do a 1.5 hour hike from town to a sanctuary lookout in the hillside. It was hard, hot and steep, stairs and stairs and stairs. We were so unprepared; we didn’t even have a single bottle of water with us, but the views at the top were breathtaking and, of course, that’s all we remember now. By the time we returned to town, we were eager to get into our new room to shower and do nothing.

Sometime around 3:30 pm, after we had recovered from the morning, we ventured out for a late lunch, first stopping at a stand on the main road for a cone of seafood to takeaway – a local speciality and so delicious. We ate it as we walked to the train station and up the cliff-side to a cafe overlooking the sea, where we ordered salads and drinks. The days here seemed to last forever; I still don’t know how we had more time after that, but we did, and we weren’t sure what to do with it. Things were slow, ideal.

We decided to return to Vernazza, since we had spent the least amount of time there the day prior. We walked around the harbor and sat for iced coffees by the sea until we eventually returned to Riomaggiore, where we stumbled across a small cooking school restaurant hidden off of the main path. There, we ate more pasta and salad and drank more rosé; we were the only ones there for more of our meal. A secret place.

The rest of the evening was perfect. We walked to the marina for sunset and ordered gelatos from the same place in the wall that we ordered from on the night that we arrived. We sat on the wall overlooking the sea, two of many in a crowd doing the same thing. A jazz band performed at the top of the path. There, we listened to the music, and we watched the sun set over the sea until it was finally dark.

 

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Cinque Terre


There is so much to say about these pictures and no great way to say any of it. It was one of the best, most full and joyful days of life. Reunited with best friends, gelato, pizza, wine, swimming in the sea, the warmth of the sun.

We voyaged through all five of the five villages of Cinque Terre in one day, beginning with a ferry from Riomaggiore to Monterosso al Mare in the morning. From there, a whirlwind.

From my notes:
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Monterosso

When we arrived, it was about 11:30 am, and we immediately searched for a place to grab an early lunch, eventually stumbling on a place called Pae Veciu, where we had a delicious, fresh salad with anchovies and a pesto lasagna. By the time we were finished, we were already hot from sitting in the sun, so we headed to the sea to swim and cool off for a bit. After what felt like forever, but couldn’t have been very long, we walked back into town to find gelato, and it was then that the “Gelato Challenge” was born; we decided we would *need* to eat gelato in every village that day. From there, we wandered through the market and walked along the picture-perfect harbor. We left Monterosso shortly after via train toward Vernazza, about two hours or so after we arrived.

 

Vernazza

We exited the train platform and almost immediately stopped for sangria and bread at a restaurant on the main street, Il Baretto. After, it was a quick walk to the harbor and through town before stopping for gelato (Gelato Challenge #2) on the main road. We were aware that we had spent more time in Monterosso than we had initially planned, so we didn’t linger long here, especially since we were now planning to hike. We began the very, *very* steep trek up into the hills over the city. It was hot, and we weren’t properly dressed, but the views of Vernazza from the top were just stunning.

And then, the hike… We walked for about 1.5 hours. It was hot; it was steep. We had initially hoped to find a hidden path to a secret beach that we could see far below us, but as much as we searched, we were never able to find it. By the time we made it to the next village, we were exhausted, dripping in sweat, and hungry; we couldn’t wait to jump into the water.

 

Corniglia

We made it! As soon as we arrived, we stopped for drinks and a snack at the very first place we saw, which happened to be Er Posu Cafe. We ordered a bottle of wine, a bruschetta, and a focaccia – all so good. It was nice to be able to sit in the restaurant’s mist machine and relax. When we had sufficiency recovered, we continued into the main town. Corniglia was definitely my favorite of the five villages, even in spite of the fact that it doesn’t have a natural harbor; I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, but something about it seemed extra special. Quieter. In town, we spontaneously decided to do a wine tasting and cheese board at a local farm shop in town, Km 0, which quickly became a highlight of our day. Apparently, we were the first people ever to try the charcuterie offering, as it was the very first day they offered it. We ended our time in Corniglia with gelato, of course, and then we made our way down what felt like a gazillion steps toward the train station, onward to the next destination.

 

Manarola

When we arrived in Manarola, we still felt so sweaty and uncomfortable from our earlier hike, so the first thing we did was walk to the harbor and jump into the sea. It was *so* refreshing. Coincidentally, we saw our friend from the bar the night before; she had two other friends with her now. We all hung out and swam as the sun began to set over the cliffs. By the time we left the water, it was dark. We walked to yet another restaurant, this one also on the main road, for a round of drinks and bread before stopping for our fourth set of gelatos for the day. I don’t know what time it was when we left to head home to Riomaggiore, only that we were so, so content and certainly not ready to let the day end.

 

Riomaggiore

We went to our room to shower and change. It was late and dark when we were done, but we were having too much fun to go to bed. We went to a small restaurant on the main road, the only one that was still serving food that late. We ordered two pizzas and wine. It was all so good. We left to wander, and eventually ended up back at the same place and ordering yet another pizza and bottle of wine, and when the restaurant closed at 1:00 am, we asked for a bottle of wine to takeaway and carried it down to the marina to drink on the rocks. Sometime around 2:00 am, we went home.

It was a long, full day. The best day ever. 

 

Riomaggiore

Beautiful, rainbow, Riomaggiore, our homebase for the three nights that we spent in Cinque Terre, overlooking the Ligurian Sea. This, the first day of the set of some of the best days of my life.

It began in Genoa in the afternoon. We flew in from London Stansted that morning, then took a cab to the train station, and then (with only a few minute to spare) caught a train to La Spezia. The train took about an hour. From La Spezia, it was a train to the five villages; first stop, Riomaggiore. Our friends had driven to town from Florence earlier in the day, so when we arrived, they were already waiting for us in a cafe with a bottle of wine, the first of many. They led us to our Airbnb – an adorable set of rooms overlooking the marina, hidden withing the winding maze of  streets and up several flights of stairs from town. We quickly dropped our bags and left for dinner on the harbor, just in time for sunset. We had seafood, pasta, and wine, and when we had finished, we walked along the stone wall for gelato (also the first of many).  After gelato, we wandered through town, eventually stopping at a bar on the main street for another bottle of wine, where we met an Australian girl travelling through Europe, who sat with us until it was dark and late.

The night was so fun, so relaxed. We returned home content and fell asleep early, eager to wake up and begin the next day. 

 

 

Bagni della Regina Giovanna

Bagni della Regina Giovanna, if I could only pick one place to ever go back to in Sorrento, it would be here.

I had never heard of it until I saw a post on Instagram days before my trip, and even then, I didn’t know much about it, so I ran here in the morning just to see it. It was more beautiful than I ever imagined. I fell in love; I came back that night. I had to, if only to watch the sunset. I wish I could go back to swim, to see what lies around that corner at the end of the bridge!

We could see the city further down the coast, and it was loud and full. But we were here alone, just us, our wine, our cheese, and the sea.

Sorrento

Sorrento, an explosion of sensation. Vibrant color, vibrant smell, so intense and all-encompassing.

I started my day in the lemon orchards on the east side of town, pushed my way through the tourists in the market, wandered downward to Marina Grande, stumbled on an enchanting seaside garden, stopped for the view. I ate alone there, rosé and pizza under a canopy of wisteria against a backdrop of Mount Vesuvius towering over the Tyrrhenian Sea. Blue, blue, blue, everywhere. It was so bright and serene.

Amalfi

Amalfi, a quick trip. Too quick, just enough for a snack before boarding the last return ferry to Sorrento after a long and slow bus ride from Positano along the windy, narrow, mountain roads.

I loved the ferry. I loved seeing it all from the sea, growing smaller and smaller as we propelled away from the coast. The wind was so violent whipping in my face. We passed Capri and arrived in Marina Piccola less than hour after departure.

Away from the crowds, isolated by the roar of the engines and the winds, it was beautiful to sit and breath it in – the sea, the floras, and the lemon.

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