Buongiorno! Right after putting up my last post, I boarded a plane to meet James in Italy for our adventure. I had originally (and ambitiously) planned on posting along as we were traveling… but that obviously didn’t happen. It just seemed like such a waste of time to spend precious hours sharing adventures instead of living them. So. A nice break from the blog and now I am back to totally bore you with alllllllllll our travel stories and pictures. Brace yourself for lots of repeats if you have been following along over on Instagram.
In theory, it was going to be romantic – meting James in the Milan airport after a month apart. In reality, it was TERRIBLE. James had a day of missed flights and rerouted connections, and I had a day of chilling in the Milan airport and freaking out that we would NEVER find each other, as neither of us had cell phones with Italian service. But alas, we did… and barely a kiss was exchanged before we started a mad dash across the airport/ city to avoid missing a second train. By the time we finally rolled into Cinque Terre, I was basically ready to hurl myself off the highest hill and call it a day.
Sometimes you love a place, not because it surprises you, but because it conforms EXACTLY with what you had imagined, exactly with the unrealistic dreams you had fostered about it. Thus was the case with Cinque Terre. We spent two days exploring the little towns, drowning ourselves in gelato and pasta, swimming in impossible teal waters, and hiking among vineyards and hills. I spent the whole time in a perpetual state of color-induced spasms and even James found it so beautiful that he pulled out his phone and took a picture. Y’all, this NEVER happens. I wish I had exciting stories to share from Italy, but really we just wandered and ate – enjoying the very essence of vacation in a place that feels like another world. I’ll just let the photos speak for me. If you are truly interested in trip details, you can scroll to the end for all those exciting links and recommendations.
- Spent our two days like this: Day 1 – explored Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, dinner back in Riomaggiore. ATE ALL THE THINGS. Day 2- caught a train to Monterosso (other end from Riomaggiore) before the strike started at 9, enjoy breakfast and wanderings, then set up on beach chairs till mid afternoon. Hiked to Vernazza, then took a dip in the harbor followed by a snack by the sea and a later train back to Riomaggiore (after the strike ended), for dinner. Insert gelato breaks anytime there is a comma in the preceding sentences and you have our visit. 2 days, plus our original evening when we arrived, was a perfect amount of time to spend in Cinque Terre.
- Let Rick Steves be our guide. I have always been leery of Rick and his devoted American followers, as I don’t really want to follow the cattle blindly to top tourist destinations. But so many of you sang his praises when I asked for tips that I gave it a try. Rick, we love you. While we didn’t follow him to the letter, his logistic information was spot on, his maps helpful, and his recommendations excellent. I might just be a convert, even as I hate myself for saying that.
- Stayed here and I cannot recommend it enough for budget travelers. It’s in Riomaggiore, which was not my favorite city to explore (though I did love its rocky beach and harbor, not to mention the restaurant below that I couldn’t get enough of), and thus was perfect as a home base, freeing exploration time up for the others. Plus, it is super close to the train station, and not dragging your bags up endless hills is a blessing. Our room was one of the “off-site” ones, which meant it was an entire mini apartment.
- Ate at this restaurant twice. I’m pretty sure a couple of you recommended it and it was PERFECT. Sea views! Tasty food, including the best caprese salad I have ever had! Casual vibe and not too pricey! The first night we ate at the top level, in the actual restaurant – the best pesto of the trip (as you all suggested/commanded, we ate pesto at every meal). The last night, we ate in their wine bar, where you just order endless small plates of tasty Italian treats. We also ate here after climbing all those steps up to Corniglia (it’s right at the very top of the almost 400 stairs), and it was both delicious, and a perfect respite with great views.
- Took the trains between most of the towns (the ferry wasn’t running), but did do a vineyard hike around Manarola (which, by the way, was my favorite town) and did the lengthy Monterosso-Vernazza coastal hike, mostly due to a train strike on our second day. The rest of the coastal trails are closed, and have been for the past couple years due to a landslide.
- Spent lots of time sipping cocktails in Vernazza’s harbor – definitely one of the best hangout spaces in all the villages. Enjoying one of those drinks after a dip in the harbor makes it even better.
- Rented beach chairs for a morning at the beach in Monterosso before our long hike and I can’t recommend this enough. Yes, it is pricey and you could just lie on the rocks next door instead. But it makes for a perfectly relaxing day, and the price of a chair coupled with a massive 5 euro pizza makes for a not too expensive lengthy lunch.
- Got sunburned, because we are pasty and it’s what we do.