Travel Series: Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre, day trip number 2! Another city that I fell in love with almost immediately (Vernazza, to be more specific). Cinque Terre is a set of five cities along the coast of the Italian Riviera. We had the opportunity to see two of the five cities, but I know that if (when!) I go back, I want to hike all five. This interactive map shows you all five of the gorgeous cities.

We started our day by realizing that Elvio is the Italian version of the Classic Dad. We had to stop and clean all the bird poop from the car before we could get going, which was actually a little comical to watch. This became part of our morning routine, Elvio was not a fan of the car being dirty. Once it was finally clean, we headed out for La Spezia, another coastal city. The drive took us around 2 hours, but Emily and I ended up sleeping almost the entire way. When we woke up, we were in beautiful La Spezia (or at least driving through it). We were basically on the edge of a cliff, driving winding roads with the mountains on one side and the Ligurian Sea of the other. The water was such a crystal clear blue that it almost looked fake.

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After stopping for these panoramic views we hopped back in the car to make our way to Riomaggiore. Elvio led us down a steep hill leading to the main street of the city, looking like a classic tourist with his fanny pack and video camera. We peeked in a little church, but quickly decided that we’d rather choose one city to enjoy fully than brief visits to all five. Gin informed us that Vernazza is the most beautiful of the five, so we decided to choose that as our one to enjoy. We walked back up the hill and started our drive to Vernazza. Once we got parked, we started the walk down a giant hill. Emily and I were reminded of walking in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

When we finally got to the village, we saw all the cute little shops and brightly colored buildings. Everything about the city seemed lively and summery. We stopped for lunch at a cute little restaurant, where i tried gnocchi for the first time. Spoiler alert: it’s amazing, just like all the rest of the food. After lunch, we hiked up to a panoramic overlook. The view is absolutely to die for. I saw some pretty amazing things on this trip, but I think this view was my favorite.

It was unbelievably hot (as it was almost every day), so we were pretty excited to see a rocky little beach from our panoramic view. We quickly decided that a dip in the sea was in order. To get to the beach, you had to walk through a small rock tunnel that warned of landslides, but once you got to the beach, you realized just how worth it it was. The beach was very rocky, but the rocks were big enough that they didn’t really hurt your feet. However, the rocks were very slippery. I learned this pretty quickly. Emily was just telling me to be careful, when I completely wiped out. It was a little painful, but it was too funny for me to get upset. After laughing that off, we swam around in the water, which was the perfect temperature, and realized quickly that it got deep fast. With the water being so clear, it was really hard to tell how far down the bottom was. The water was also incredibly salty, and the waves and current were pretty rough. We spent a while swimming around, climbing the rocks, and jumping back in.

After the rocky beach, we made our way around to the busier beach and rented two kayaks, one for Gin and one for Emily and I. We quickly realized that a) our kayak was defective, because we were almost completely under water and b) we are really bad at rowing. It was all worth it when we found the cavern that Gin was leading us to. From the outside, it just looked like a slit in the rocky coast, but once we got inside, it was stunning and calm and the most perfect blue color. If you ever have the opportunity to kayak here, take it. 

After finding our cavern, we headed back to the port. Emily and I finally got the hang of it… right as we reached the docks. We were sandy, hot, and tired, but we were happy. On the ride home we fell asleep almost immediately, wet swimsuits and all. This time when we woke up, we saw Elvio cleaning the INSIDE of the windshield. We couldn’t help but laugh at how cute that was.

We got back to Florence around 9 and quickly showered and headed to Ambra’s. Ambra served us one of her best dishes yet, spaghetti with seafood. One thing to eat is never enough, so we found ourselves also indulging on watermelon and an ice cream cake. We enjoyed some white wine and plenty of water. Emily and I noticed that we drank so much more water than the Italians, and we also eat so much slower. Gin would be completely finished before we’re even halfway through our meal. Emily and I think she secretly just doesn’t chew her food. After dinner we played a card game. Roberto (Ambra’s husband) kicked our butts, Gin and Ambra sang, Emily and I laughed, and Elvio trash talked. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day, sitting on the rooftop terrace living like the Italians.

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This was one of my favorite days of the whole trip. It was the perfect mix of exploring and relaxing and eating amazing food. Next stop: Venice!

Stay tuned for more updates!

xoxo, second sister suzie

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