I’m not really sure where to begin to describe how unforgettable this weekend was. Cinque Terre is a set of 5 towns along the northern coast of Italy. These towns are all located on cliffs that border the Mediterranean. The only way I could explain my experience here would be to say that this Cinque Terre is one of those places you’d see in a book and think, “That’s probably photoshopped. There is no way a place like that exists, so clearly I’ll never actually go there.” This time, I was wrong.
See what I mean?
This trip, however, was not at all easy. If you have bad knees, don’t like fish, or have little patience you might want to work on that before you go to Cinque Terre considering the entire place is made of the steepest staircases imaginable, is on the coast so fish is always on the menu, and round trip we wound up on 12 different trains. But I promise you it is entirely worth it.
Getting to Cinque Terre actually turned out to be pretty hilarious looking back on it (it definitely was NOT during the process). Because of James’ previous mishaps (which I mentioned in the last blog) he and I left 4 hours behind our friends. We took a bus from Rome to La Spezia and then it was just 10 minute train ride to get to our hostel! Sounds simple right? Wrong. By the time we found a single person who could tell us where to go we had yet another HOUR to wait until the actual train left.
James: “Well, it could be worse.”
Jen: Inaudible growl.
We finally made it there to the pleasant surprise of our hostel, I had been expecting military barracks. But in reality we all had big beds, a dining room, cute kitchen, and a balcony that overlooked the sea… also every single thing is this room was ORANGE.
EVEN THE WALLS WERE ORANGE.
When we walked into the hostel room, (which sounds easy, but there were probably 98273982794872 stairs between the train and my bed) we found an absurdly large jug of wine along with a bottle of tequila on our table with a note from our hostel mates that read:
yourselfs new friends.”
… mmm no. Aint gonna happen. Clearly they know we’re American because they got us alcohol, and clearly they’re not American because they can’t spell. I turned out to be completely wrong (yet again), our hostel mates were American college students from Texas Tech University. And they were all really cool! We spent our last night in Cinque Terre sitting around our table talking. Which is where the new meaning of the word “ciao” came from. Our Texan friends explained to us that whenever one uses the word “ciao” they immediately sound European. So when they want to blend in and not stand our as tourists, they begin to use “ciao” as pretty much a noun, adjective, and verb.
Example: “Yo, that chow was pretty ciao.” … it kindof works if you try it.
If you ever make it to Cinque Terre, you MUST walk all the way from Riomaggiore (first town, where we stayed), to Manarola, to Corniglia (you might have to take the train there like we did because there was a devastating flood there in 2011 that blocked off the trail), to Vernazza, and the last and worst hike, Monterossa del Mare. The walk from Riomaggiore to Manarola is super easy. There is a paved path on the side of the cliff called the “Via Del Amore” (Walk/ Street of Love). The Entire walk is COVERED in the names of couples from all over the world written in sharpie, carved into plants, or penned on locks from which the keys have all been subsequently tossed into the Mediterranean, symbolizing an unbreakable bond…. awwwww how cute! Of course, as Winnie put it, how many of these couples are actually still together? But that is ENTIRELY beside the point. It’s totally adorable!
This statue is in a cave near the end of the walk, I loved it!
On Saturday we all got up, laced up our sneaks, packed up our back packs, charged our cameras, got some caffe and got going. The hiking got progressively more difficult with each town we wandered through. The hike from Cornigilia to Vernazza, and then from Vernazza to Monterossa del Mare were RIDICULOUS. And that’s coming from a bunch of able bodied college kids in their twenties. There were older folks champing this trail in long pants… more power to them. We were all down to shorts and bathing suit tops by town #3. Speaking of clothes! I saw 3 more men with no pants… it must be a new trend. I’m not exaggerating! Towards the end we might as well have been full on rock climbing. It felt like the trail was constantly at a 90 degree angle whether we were going up or down. Not to mention we wound up doing this in the heat of the days. In total (I googled it) we walked 11 miles, and when we looked back along the coast we could tell we did work.
With that much walking and that many trains, the 7 of us all REALLY got to know each other. It got pretty strange at times we went from quoting the Wild Thornberries, to coming up with our hashtags to describe this trips (#railsonrailsonrails), we even digressed to the point of puns (ORANGE you glad we came here guys!?). We spent most of the time laughing about eachothers stories of childhood, travel, and life. One of my favorite stories happened between James and me on the first train ride of the trip.
James: Wait, is this trip all weekend.
Jen: … yes.
James: I guess I should have brought a toothbrush.
We spent the afternoon lying on the beach in Monterossa del Mare:
And I didn’t even get sunburnt!
We took a boat all the way home from town #5 to Town #1, and on our walk back you could clearly see we were wiped.
“Oh my Gosh I’m going to pass out when we get back, what time is it?”
I’m not going to lie, Siena was not my favorite place I’ve been to so far. Can you believe what a travel snob I turned into!?! “Oh yea Siena was alright.” No, but it’s completely worth seeing, the town in beautiful. The main attraction there is an enormous, ornate church called Il Duomo. Be warned, this is one of the biggest tourist traps I’ve seen. When you’re in Siena, yes, see the Duomo:
But make sure you get off the beaten path and see the REAL Siena. We were only there for a few hours so I won’t say I fully did that, but I definitely saw a lot. We ventured to the Sanctuary of St. Catherine which was tranquil and gorgeous. We pretty much just roamed the streets in search of pretty views, and we definitely found them:
Now we’re all back in Rome continuing with our “normal” lives (this is completely not real life at all). But the pictures and memories I made on this trip will forever change the lens through which I view the world (especially stairs).