This morning we got up at the crack of dawn to head to the train station where our Bus2Alps (a travel organization designed for study abroad students) excursion was starting. Today we are going to a place that has been on my bucket list since I first saw a picture of it- Cinque Terre. On the coast of Italy, it is five seaside towns all interconnected by trails and trains. I was so happy we were going since I have been dreaming about this place ever since I found out about it.
We left on our bus around 7:30, driving for about two hours before we arrived at the train station La Spezia to go into one of the towns Montorossso. The bus ride was beautiful, it was hard not to get distracted from writing my blog! As soon as we were out of the city the landscape transformed to mountains nestled around vineyards, nurseries and charming homes.
We got off the bus at the La Spezia train station since there are little to no vehicles in the five cities of Cinque Terre. We took a short train to the town of Manarola, which was truly picture perfect. That town is essentially the poster child of Cinque Terre. We had about an hour to walk around and explore, we went on a little hiking trail to get an awesome view. Afterwards we climbed around on the rocks. The water is gorgeous! Super blue and clear.
We got on another train, stopping in the town of Vernazza. Also another charming town, pastel houses and buildings stacked up on the hills. Our tour guide recommended a little seafood stand for a quick lunch. We got ‘seafood cones’ filled with calamari and fish. We ate them sitting by the water, enjoying the view and just taking it all in.
It was so much fun to sit among some of the locals and watching the fishermen and boat drivers. After lunch and relaxing by the water we headed out on the hike to a town over, Vernazza. The hike was about an hour long, pretty steep at the beginning and end. The trail was pretty narrow and packed with people, especially compared to the hikes Grace and I have taken. But the views were stunning! We walked by vineyards and orchards and across stone bridges and walls. It was beautiful, I loved coming around random turns and being able to see cities on either side.
We originally wanted to hike through all five of the cities, but some of the trails were closed and being able to go on an organized trip with transportation was a huge lifesaver!
The hike ended in the town and we walked around for a little bit, once again trying to take it all in. This town was bigger than the others, offering a wide beach and tons of restaurants. We grabbed some drinks to enjoy on the beach because, when in Cinque Terre? There was a public beach so we laid out our towels and soaked up some sun. The water was great, not even cold!
It was a perfect day, the sightseeing, hiking and the whole experience of Cinque Terre was phenomenal. All of the towns were charming and quaint, but it was amazing to be in a place I have dreamed about going to. Being able to experience so much of creation has been incredibly humbling. Cinque Terre was gorgeous, I hope to one day go back and hike all of them and do a sailing trip. In these little towns, similar to Lake Como and Hallstatt, I am fascinated by people’s everyday lives in these places. I can’t imagine running a vineyard that is literally on top of a mountain or taking a boat to the next town over in order to pick up your groceries. I wish I could meet all of these people and just follow them around to experience an average day in their life.
After our ride back we got cleaned up and met up with one of Reyanne’s friends from UNC who was in Florence with her family. She joined us for a late dinner at a restaurant that Grace’s sister told us was amazing. (Her sister Lucy studied in Florence for a semester) Lucy was right, it was fantastic. I ordered my first gnocchi dish with red sauce (my favorite type of pasta) and it was fabulous! We were also starved from our long day so everything tasted extra great. Our waiter was great and even gave us what we have started calling the ‘pretty girl discount.’
We tried a new gelato place called Grom. ( I wasn’t kidding when I said I would eat it every day) The line out of the door was justified because the gelato was great. I got extra dark chocolate and mint, so good!
Today was wonderful, Cinque Terre was outstanding, the more places I travel to in Italy the more tempting it is to live here one day. Who knows what the future holds!
(More pics to come from today, just keep an eye out on FB!)