Italy is my life
Ciao da Italia! Smyth and I made it to Italy. It actually was a bit of a challenge to leave Paris. We were all packed and had a few hours before we needed to leave for the train station. Food and possibly a bit of shopping sounded good and we strolled around the Bastille neighborhood in search of souvenirs and a cute cafe. It was just around happy hour time and we found a spot close to the apartment called Chavez Oscar or Oscar Chaquita or something. What really drew us in was the 2,50 wine :) We instantly made friends with the little round waiter who brought us extra hefty glasses of vin rouge! He waddled over to take our orders and giggled at my botched French. He said "yum yum" when he brought over Smyth's linguini and wiggled his hips when he said "frommage" ! Adorable. But the second round really did us in and two drunk Campbell girls raced back to the apartment to get our things and rush to the train. We were laughing and lugging our suitcases down the streets of Paris worried we would be late, only to find our train delayed an hour. But once we did get on we passed out in our bunk beds and slept off the silliness :) Well, I couldn't sleep very well and decided to start Italian lessons on my phone. A wise decision as I did not know more than three words in the language of our next destination. After one other train we arrived in Levanto in the morning. Our B&B was very close to the train station and we were a bit early for check in. The place was adorable and had gorgeous, expansive views of the surrounding mountains. It was on the top floor of a very quite and dark apartment building and the hostess did not speak a lick of English. Thanks to my lightening speed Italian course we could communicate on the most basic basic level. Her name was Maria and she made us cafe Americanos while we waited for our room. We also took a stroll around the small town, went to the market for hiking snacks and stopped by the beach to read and take in the views. After settling in a bit at our hotel we went on our first cinque terra excursion. It is basically five small towns along the coast that are interlinked by several hiking trails through the mountains, coastal paths or by train. We stopped in the first town Monterossa, which is definitely the busiest and has the most beach to swim, lay, paddle board etc. We wanted to hike to the next town but could not find the trail head we wanted. Instead we explored the churches a bit and stumbled upon the beginning of the "coastal footpath". Footpath my ass...this was a two hour trek up a million stone stairs, through beautiful foliage, all with the coast in view. It kicked our butts and when we finally reached the next town Vernazza, we felt pretty accomplished! Vernazza was my favorite town...many houses and restaurants built into the mountain overlooking the ocean. It had a tiny enclave with small boats and the water was a beautiful shade of blue-green. The third town is only reachable by hiking or train as the coastal path was flooded during the earthquakes. We hopped on the train and when we arrived in Corniglia we realized there was not much to do. We took a bus up to the top of the town to see the view and back down only to miss the train. The next one was not for fifty minutes and since this was definitely the least exciting of towns we were not thrilled and parked ourselves in the shade to read and wait. The next stop was Monerola, also not much to the town, but the starting point of another coastal path called Villa del Amore (lovers walk). This was basically a bridge like trail lining the cliffs that drop straight down to the sea! This leisurely walk was our favorite and we did it several times over our two days in the Cinque Terra. When we arrived in the last town Riggamoira, there was also not a big town center or anything but we stopped at the cafe built into the side of the cliff. The view was spectacular and they had 2,50 glasses of wine and free wifi. This was our spot. We had a couple glasses and snacked on whatever nibbles we had brought for hiking. It was close to dinner time so we decided to walk back across the lovers trail and catch a train to the second city which seemed to have lots of dining options. We were both extremely dirty at this point and sat down at a fairly nice place up on a small cliff overlooking the port area in Vernazza. The staff was very friendly, brought us some complimentary prosecco, and we ordered salad, grilled veggies and fries. It was a good meal and we ended up chatting with a mother and daughter from Denver, (daughter now lives in Brooklyn). We were exhausted after dinner and headed back to our B&B for some much needed sleep. The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel. Maria made us cafe Americanos and we ate bread with jam, orange juice and not much else. Not too many options for us :) we set out on our second day of excursions! It took us awhile to get started because some of the trail heads were too far or the guides suggested we
do a more scenic route. We finally decided on a trail labeled 6 and after what seemed like a million years up a hill we found the trailhead. This hike was gorgeous and essentially zigzagged through a vineyard. The path was lined with beautiful wildflowers and smelled like heaven. Although, where there are wildflowers there are bees....and large black wasps ...luckily neither of us were attacked but the buzzing looming around my ears had me a bit freaked. Part of this hike all of a sudden seemed like we were in the jungle...it reminded me of hiking in Hawaii. This took us about two and a half hours and we arrived in our least favorite town waiting at the same train station as the day before for about an hour :) We were anxious to get to the lovers path and our beloved wine bar for a midday snack and rest. Wine, apples, some Internet rejuvenated us and we headed to Monterossa for some quality beach time. We rented chairs and an umbrella and laid in the sun! The water was very mellow and glorious to swim in! Although pretty cold at first it felt amazing after sweating all day to jump in the gorgeous blue water and swim along the coastline. When the beach closed around 7 we walked up the boardwalk to a restaurant overlooking the water (it was necessary to choose a place with a view since it was sooo pretty!!!) We had some cheap wine, bruschetta, salad and lots of bread ! We had another charming waiter, who although a bit awkward liked to joke with us. Again, very worn down, we passed out early. Breakfast and goodbye to the Cinque Terra. I could've stayed there forever!!