Now that summer is officially over ::nooo:: and the dreary weather returns to Milan, its about that time for me to look back and start daydreaming about happier spring days — can you tell I’m a Californian? So after far too much delay, lets revisit one of my personal favorite places in Italy, the fabulous Cinque Terre…
As many of you know, Cinque Terre is made up on five small towns along the Italian Riviera. I’ve been wanting to check it out for a few years now, and the right opportunity came when Dory and Marissa told me they were visiting. They arrived on a redeye flight and by early afternoon we were already on the 3 hour train ride to Monterosso, arguably the best of the five towns to stay at. Like most of my recent girls’ getaways, we nixed the standard hotel room scene in favor of an apartment rental we found through HomeAway. The place was cute, about a 10 minute walk from the water, and while it culminated with a 100+ stairmaster workout to get to our rooms, it had a beautiful view and was affordable for my grad school budget.
Cinque Terre couldn’t be easier to get around in. Not only are the five towns within hiking distance of each other for the more athletic/adventurous, but its also connected by trains which run quite frequently. We already had our game plan ready: hike through each town, rewarding ourselves at each new place with a meal, a drink, or a gelato. Perfect, right? Until we got to the first trail and were told that the hiking trails were closed due to the storms and chance of mudslides. Hmm, this is going to make that gelato much harder to justify. Grudgingly, we ended up taking trains to each stop instead of hiking, but in Vernazza we found that the trail was only partially blocked off and were able to wander over to some killer viewpoints anyway. Some of my b-school buddies were also in CT for the weekend so together we explored the other towns, only skipping Corniglia because we were racing the sun and Corniglia has many, many stairs to go down before reaching the water. Although I regret not making it to all 5 towns, I’d say we did pretty damn good for just one day.
For our second day of exploring we headed over to Portovenere, one of the other gems on the Ligurian coast just a short bus ride from La Spezia. Portovenere is a beautiful quaint town with a castle overlooking the sea and many restaurants and shops that line its narrow alleyways. Tip: if you do make it over for a day trip, in addition to having the seafood (no brainer) also make sure to take some pesto home with you – one of the things the area is best known for. Overall, the weekend was incredible — sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am to be just a short train ride away from paradise. Oh Italy, no wonder you’re such a charmer.