“Eat”-alia, part 2
Welcome back, everyone! The Italian excursion continues… And as you will see in this post, I’m not joking about the “eat” part!
I believe I left you on our 2 1/2 hour train ride to Cinque Terre, yeah? We arrived Sunday evening – this was my first view from the Riomaggiore train station…
We got checked in and taken to our apartment (we found on Airbnb and loved it). We took a moment to soak in this private terrace and the views!!
We took a few minutes to soak in that this was our reality for the next 3 days! Then we headed back into town to visit the local market (grocery store – if you can really call it that). We got a very large portion of fresh pesto, bread, fruit, water and of course, some local wine. We made the trek back to our place to enjoy some pesto in the fresh air!
We did some light exploring of Riomaggiore that evening and stopped in a small place near the marina for a quick dinner, where we enjoyed a sunset view. Then we headed back to rest up for a big day on Monday.
Monday morning (Cinco de Mayo to some, to us – our 2nd wedding anniversary), we hopped a train to Monterosso the last town of Cinque Terre and the starting point of our hike! Monterosso is the most resort-ish town in Cinque Terre, as it has the most hotels and a sandy beach. We checked out the beach and then stopped in a local bakery for a quick focaccia for breakfast before we began the walk. Mine was full of green olives and I really enjoyed it. I would like to have it for breakfast regularly! 🙂
We took the Coastal Trail to Vernazza. It was just over 2 hours of hiking, and the majority wasn’t bad (just lots of small ups and downs and weaving around). The initial climb, however, was a bit of a struggle. We estimate about 10-15 flights of stairs all in a row, in the sun, and the steps were large and uneven! And given that this was the only portion of the path currently open, there was a lot of traffic, so you just had to keep moving. I had a brief moment of overheating/feeling majorly out of shape at the top of the stairs. After a cool down in a shady spot, we continued without any problems and I enjoyed the remainder much more.
The view from the path was wonderful… We tried to soak in the fresh air, little waterfalls, vineyards and sea views along the way!
Our hosts had recommended a lunch spot at the top of Vernazza called Il Parata (The Pirate). We decided to go for it. It’s run by a couple brothers who liked to ham it up with all the customers, which was enjoyable. (Quite the change from the typical Dutch style of hands-off service.) We had some delicious pasta, and then decided that since it was our anniversary, we probably needed dessert too! We got a strawberry granita (kind of like a slushie) and of course, a homemade canoli…YUMMY!
Then we headed down to the marina in Vernazza to check out the boats and watch some people for a bit.
Up next, we boarded the train to Corniglia, the only one of the towns not right on the sea. And by not right on the sea, I mean we had to take 384 (we counted) stairs up after getting off the train! It really wasn’t as bad as it sounds… We had been told that this town has the best gelato of all the five towns…so we again, decided we should be the judge of that. I must say, mine was quite tasty. Then we wandered through the cute, narrow streets for a bit. We realized that we needed to make the next train or be stuck for a while, so we then ran back down 384 stairs and hopped the train back to Riomaggiore.
We got back to our apartment and cleaned up for a big anniversary dinner at the restaurant Dau Cila at the marina in town. We had made a reservation the night before, so we had prime seating for the evening’s sunset. We started with a little Prosecco toast to TWO YEARS! Our first course was a lobster gnocchi, and it was really nice. Secondly, we both opted for fish…I mean, we are literally at the water’s edge!
And this may be shocking, but dessert was had…again! (This didn’t bother me one bit at the time, but looking back…a tad much possibly!) BC had panna cotta with berries that made him question why he had never ordered panna cotta before. I opted for the lemon sorbet (remember – new found obsession), which was lovely!
Wow – what an anniversary! I can’t wait to see how we top this back in DSM next year. 🙂
Tuesday, we decided to do some more casual strolling through a couple of the towns and also to visit the final town, Manarola. We again started with a train to Monterosso. We sat on the boardwalk overlooking the beach enjoying a cappuccino. Then we made a little walk along the beach, checking out the cool rocks.
Next up, a return to Vernazza…this time by train. I needed to use the restroom quick while we waited for the train – this was a first!
We made to Vernazza and browsed some of the small shops in town. We even bought a few artsy postcards… Then we bought a quick square of pizza from a small place and took it down to the marina to enjoy it.
Because we had nothing to compare with yesterday’s gelato stop to confirm it’s title as the best, we decided to hit up this place in Vernazza. 🙂
We took the train from Vernazza to Manarola (skipping Corniglia and the 384 steps this time). I didn’t have much expectation for Manarola for some reason. I guess I hadn’t heard a lot of hype, but the view we had of the town/cliff was probably the best of the trip!
We decided to catch the ferry boat from Manarola back to Riomaggiore, just to see the town from a different perspective. We had a little wait for our ferry, so we hung out on a big rock for a bit. BC sunned himself and I practiced taking photos of waves hitting rocks…a good time was had by all! 🙂
We grabbed a quick snack in town before heading back up to our place to relax – calamari – in a cone!
For our last night, we decided to take advantage of our lovely patio. We did pizza take away and enjoyed the evening together watching the sun go down!
The next morning, we packed up, cleaned up the place, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed back out on the rails for a 1 hour ride. This time, our one night stop was in the city of Pisa. We arrived early in the afternoon and carried our luggage pretty much through the entire city center, past the leaning tower and to our hotel. After dropping the stuff, we made our way to a recommended pizzeria for a late lunch. We both voted this the best pizza we have had in Italy! A bold statement, yes…
Then the natural thing to do was a stop by the Leaning Tower of Pisa! I’m not sure why, but I was somehow surprised by how much it is leaning… I also was not aware that the tower was in the same square right next to the Pisa Cathedral and St. John’s Baptistry, which were really beautiful buildings as well.
Why not join the party of people taking photos touching/supporting the tower? This was the scene. We enjoyed listening to everyone tell each other to move this way or that in numerous different languages.
I don’t think BC quite realized that as the photographer, he had to move to make it work. This is what I got…really getting up close to it…
After much direction back and forth (although mostly from my end), we arrived at the best one of the day…
After all that hard work, we decided to go for a stroll back through the city center and down by the river, just to see what else there was in this city.
Then we decided to just go back and enjoy the green space around the tower and cathedral area. We enjoyed watching people and the setting sun. Many locals brought their dogs out to run around in one part of the lawn. It was nice to just relax for a bit.
And just because I don’t think you’ve seen enough of the tower….here’s one more as the sun was going down. The colors on the tower got much better without direct sunlight!!
The next morning was another travel day…this time around 3 hours to the unique and lovely city of Venice! Join me for part 3 of the series again soon to hear about the exciting conclusion to our Italian Extravaganza!
PS – a quick shout out to Erin for passing her dissertation defense yesterday and adding the impressive “Dr.” title to her name!! Congratulations! Enjoy your graduation. 🙂
Until next time,