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 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!!