With Florence as our base, we took a day trip out to Cinque Terre, or “The Five Lands”. It’s 5 small, hillside, villages along the coast, in the middle of what is now a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site. We chose to use a tour company (Walkabout Florence) for the convenience of transportation- it’s about 2 hours from Florence. After planning every piece of our trip, it was nice to just have a tour guide and not worry about what train/bus to catch! We also really enjoyed hearing about the areas we drove through on the way out- past the mountains where Carrera marble comes from (the peaks looked like snow!) and through the region where they grow a lot of plants for the nurseries. I’d really been looking forward to this piece of the trip because neither of us had been and I’ve heard so many friends RAVE about it. So my expectations were incredibly high. Maybe just a little too high- while it was absolutely beautiful, the trail was packed and I just couldn’t get as into it as I thought I should be. I kept wanting to get off the path and just go swim in the blue waters with the Italians. Guess that’s the negative of going with a tour group, ha! Regardless, it was still an awesome day, our group had fun people, and the views were so picturesque! Plus, it was nice to get a good hike in considering the massive amounts of pasta and wine we’d been consuming. We did end up getting to jump into the crystal clear, cool, water in the middle of trek and that was my favorite part of the day. Talk about refreshing after being a sweaty mess.
The charter bus dropped us off in Manarola, the 2nd town and smallest village. From there we worked our way through towns 3-5 and ended back at town 1. We took a train to Corniglia where we ate lunch at Ristorante Cecio with stunning patio views and fresh seafood and pasta. It’s the only town that doesn’t directly touch the water. From there, we hiked 3.5 km in the hot sun to Vernazza where we swam. Dan jumped off the little cliff and I was impressed 🙂 Afterwards, we took another train to Monterosso, the largest town, where we had the best puff pastry stuffed with cheese. I also got to ogle the umbrellas I’d seen in all of Gray Malin’s Cinque Terre photos. Finally, we took a boat to Riomaggiore, which allowed us to see all the towns we had just visited from the water.
SO glad we got to visit, but I do think I would have fallen more in love had we actually stayed in one of the towns and gotten the full experience. Which is the case with most places in the world 🙂