Monday, March 10, 2014

Reminiscing...The in's and out's of traveling around Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre!! The Five Lands - They are truly a sight to be seen. So gorgeous, so old, and so remote!

During our trip to Italy, we stayed in Cinque Terre for 4 nights. My parents recommended a great hotel to us where they had stayed the summer before in the northern-most "land" Monterosso al Mare. It is called La Bougainvillea - hence the gorgeous bougainvillea that grows on the outside of the building in the summertime. This was one of the only hotels we reserved in advance and when we arrived we were supposed to call the owner Andrea and he would meet us to show us to our room. Our phone was having issues, and we kept dropping the call so it was hard for us to figure out where to meet him, until we literally bumped into him on the sidewalk! 

Andrea showed us to our room and we got all checked in. A few moments later we heard a knock on our door and we thought it would be Andrea again, but this time it was our neighbors who were staying in the room next door. They were joining another couple they were traveling with out on their patio for some wine and appetizers and asked us if we would like to join them! How friendly! They were all from Australia and had kids about our age. We ended up becoming good friends with them and kept running into them all over Cinque Terre.  

My dad's name is Mickey and he told us to be sure to visit "his" restaurant while we were in Monterosso. Great recommendation! 
I ordered the salt crusted sea bass. Our waiter prepared it for us table-side so we 
got a great view of the sea bass in it's crust before he opened it up to serve it.
Garrett doesn't eat fish, and this was so good that I ate the whole fish by myself! 

This is the famous statue in Cinque Terre called Il Gigante, "the giant", that was built in the 2nd century. It represents Neptune, the god of the Sea.  

Our hotel was the yellow on in the middle. 

Fruits, veggies and fish at the local weekend market. 

Lemon groves and pretty stone walkways are everywhere in Cinque Terre.

Our daily cafe with amazing Italian espresso!

We checked out the inside of the local church in Monterosso, and they had these amazing black and white pillars and arches inside, accented with the chandeliers, it was just beautiful. This was the only church we saw that was designed with these types of elements.

To get around the different lands you can hike or take the train. We wanted to check out another land so we took our first train from Monterosso to Vernazza. 
In Vernazza they had this poster up showing the mudslides that filled the town back in 2011. They had to completely clean out the whole town to get it back into shape. 

We found a cool and crazy little bar in Vernazza to get a bite to eat and a drink. It was the waitresses birthday and she was playing the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction really loud in the bar and all her friends stopped by to see her. The owner of the restaurant and her even dressed up like the main characters of the movie. We ended up downloading the soundtrack to our phone and listened to it for the rest of the trip in the car on our long drives between destinations. 

Our third day there was a train strike! So we couldn't get in between any of the lands unless we hiked from the hours of 9-5, so we went to the old town of Monterosso and got some delicious pizza for lunch. We also hiked up to a really cool hotel perched on the side of the cliff called Hotel de Porto Roco. 

The trains ended up starting back up a little early so we caught one around 4 and went to the southern-most land, Riomaggiore. The sun was shining and we explored the town and rested at a really cool restaurant built into the cliff. 

For dinner we wanted to catch a train to the next town over, Manerola, to eat dinner and watch the sunset. But we accidentally took the express train all the way back up to the town that our hotel was in, Monterosso! Just when we thought we had it all figured out. :) So... 45 minutes later, we caught another train back down to Manerola, just in time for the sunset. 

Our Australian friends were eating dinner at the same restaurant we went to, so they snapped our photo for us. (The lighting turned out a little red from the heat lamps.) 

They finished their dinner around the same time as us, so we all went back to Monterosso together and tried some aged grappa for the first time. It was a 1997 grappa called "Magia" and was very smooth. Much better than the other grappa we had tried.

At this point in our trip I was having a really hard time sleeping due to the time change and just not really adjusting that well. One complaint I had about our hotel here was that my pillow was horrible! It actually had a built in spring inside of the pillow. So uncomfortable! We slept in till about 10:00 and missed our complimentary breakfast so we went and found a restaurant that had "International Breakfast" so we got to have some eggs and bacon! We were kind of getting tired of croissants, funny sausages, and the pastries that they offer at every hotel, so regular eggs and bacon was a welcome sight to us. 

This was our sunniest and warmest day on our trip so far. We thought about taking the boat to Puerto Venere, but we figured that we should actually go hiking since we were in one of the most famous places to hike in the world. So we set off from Vernazza and hiked to Corniglia. The hike was pretty much straight uphill, and then once you got to the top.... straight down hill. But the views and the nature were so worth it!

That little town in the distance was our destination. 
This is the land of Corniglia. This is the only land that was up on the hillside and didn't have access to the ocean. 

Once we made it to Corniglia, we got a well deserved refreshment and sat down and soaked in the sun in the little piazza. 
Cinque Terre was totally different than anywhere we have ever been and we locked our love away forever on the walk of love in Riomaggiore. We brought a padlock all the way from home that we wrote our names and the date on to place on the fence here. Ours is the bright green one in the middle. :)

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