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Beautiful Cinque Terre, The Italian Riviera

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Hands down one of the most beautiful places in the world!  We’ve heard so much about Cinque Terre from friends and watching specials on the Italian Riviera, and we finally made it!  Definitely one of our favorite places on our trip! We decided to stay at Monterosso after speaking with some friends and glad to did it!

We got in late that night as we left Venice late in the afternoon.  The train ride was a bit over 3 hours and Grace and I got some good rest on the way there.  We watched Adjustment Bureau on the way, and it was definitely one of the better movies that we had seen in awhile.

Our hotel, La Spiaggia, was only about a minute walk or less up the street outside the train station.  It was in a GREAT location right by the train station.  Some folks complained online about the train noises, but we didn’t hear anything and highly recommend this place to our friends.

Fun tidbit: The owner of the La Spiagga hotel continues to send us Christmas cards every year!  Hand written too!

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There are two parts to Monterosso al Mare (where we stayed), an older part of the town and a newer part.  La Spiaggia is a B&B in the newer part of the town and right on the beach!  From what we saw visiting both parts of the town, we liked the newer part of the town better than the old.  You can walk easily to both sides in less than 5 minutes.

La Spiaggia is literally right in front of the beach so it had great views and every morning you can wake up and walk along the beach for some early fresh air.  The night we got into Cinque Terre it was pretty dark already so we didn’t explore too much but did go eat at the Cantina, which was right by the hotel.  The food was delicious!!

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The placemats even had a nice little map of the 5 towns of Cinque Terre!

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At dinner we met a nice family from Norway and they were hilarious (mostly b/c they were half intoxicated).  We got talking to them and they invited us to visit them in Norway and we did the same and invited them to SF!  (if you guys are reading this, I have yet to receive an email from you! haha)

Of course after dinner we decided to go get some Gelato! We called it a night after that as we were tired from traveling in the day and wanted to prepare ourselves for the next couple of days in paradise!

 

Day 2:

Yep!  We are going to do the Cinque Terre hike!! The world famous hike across all of the towns is well known for their amazing views and treacherous paths!  We got up around 9AM and had a nice full breakfast so that we would have energy throughout the day and left for the hike shortly after.  It’s about a 5 hour hike and we were told to take the train to Riomaggiere and then walk up!   Unfortunately one of the trails were closed so we had to  train it through that part but the rest of the trail was open and we were excited to be on our way!

From Riomaggiere you are off to hike to Manarola.  This is where the “Lovers Trail” .  This is where you are supposed to bring a “lock” and attach it to one of the fences in the path and throw the key away into the ocean.  I actually had read about this before we left and had bought a lock but I forgot it at home!  haha!  I ended up buying another lock for 9 Euros and used that one instead!  Our lock has red zip ties on it, so if you head out there.. do go look for it!

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After we made it to Manarola, we explored the town a bit and headed towards Corniglia.  The town is located high above on the cliffs and they actually have buses that take people up but we decided to toughen up and walk up the stairs!  382 steps later we made it!  We had lunch at La Pasada with a nice view overlooking into the water.

Next up!  On our way to Vernazza.  This was about a 1.5 hour hike but not that bad all in all.  Make sure to soak in as you hike all the sites and sounds as its one of the most beautiful hikes you will ever do!  When we got to Vernazza we filled up on our water stash.  The water from the fountains actually were soooo good.  They supposedly are super fresh and pure directly from the mountains.  Make sure you bring a nice big water bottle since you will work up quite a sweat during these hikes and refill as necessary!  Once we got into Vernazza we saw all these people eating focaccia so we decided to get one for ourselves as well.  Delicious!!

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We walked around town there and also of course got some Gelato to cool ourselves down!    OK now that we made it through most of the towns, we were on our way back to Monterosso!  At this point it was near sunset so I started taking more and more photos since the lighting was so good.   (One of my favorite shots of the whole trip is up above and the main image on the blog post!)

 

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On our way back we called to make reservations at Ciak, and good thing we did since only reservations can sit outside.  Overall the hike was everything that we had hoped for and the views were just simply breathtaking throughout.  It’s no joke of a hike though either!  But if you are in decent shape, you will have no problem!

Once we got back to our hotel, we washed up and cleaned ourselves up for dinner.  For some reason, if there was one gripe about the room we stayed at was that the room didn’t good wireless reception so I had to go downstairs to the lobby to research some of our next stops on our trip.  As I got downstairs i decided to plop myself at the front of the hotel to do my research.  Low and behold, after a few minutes I hear someone say “DHU!”, I looked around and it was Paul and Melissa!!  We knew we were both out in Italy at the same time but wasn’t planning on meeting up until later!  Just so happens that they were walking through the town and saw me sitting there!  (I was actually about to write Paul and email at the time so it was really funny that they just found me!)

We chatted for a while and then decided to meetup after since they had made reservations for Miky for dinner and we were at Ciak for 7:30.  We got to the restaurant and of course, since we had reservations, we got to sit outside!

Note to friends: Just go there earlier in the day and ask to make reservations bc sitting outside was WAY better than inside!

We ordered a bottle of wine, oysters, grilled fish and pesto gnocchi.  As we were eating dinner we kept on seeing people order this seafood pasta so we decided to add it as well to our meal! (make sure you get it!  was delicious and so glad we ended up ordering it!)  Paul and Melissa came by around 9 and luckily the table next to us was leaving so they sat down next to us and we chatted for a while about their trip so far and places to go.  They had gone to Florence already so they gave us a bunch of tips on what to do while we head there next!   We were planning on meeting them back up in Rome for our final leg.

We headed back to towards our hotel so Paul and Melissa could catch their 9:48 train.  Once we saw them off we decided to just sit along the beach and post up for a bit and just relax and soak in this beautiful and magical place.

 

Day 3:

OK, this was our day to just rest and relax!  The folks at La Spiagga told us that they were gonna upgrade our room so I said sure!!  We were moved into a massive room above and had a great view of the beach with a huge balcony as well!   The one bad thing about this room though was that there was no AC!  Overall though I liked this room better!  It unfortunately started raining that day so while it rained I did some more research on our next leg of the trip!  We talked to our front desk lady and I was asking her about our tickets to Florence and making sure we were all set… good thing I did, b/c she told me that our tickets were probably not ideal!

  • We were supposed to take the train from Monterosso to La Spezia and then from La Spezia to Pisa, then from Pisa to Florence!
  • They actually have trains that go though straight from La Spezia to Florence directly
  • But she also thought of another route that was even better!  Monterosso to Pisa directly
    • We could then have time to hang out at pisa for a while and then go off to Pisa!
  • Since I already had the Pisa to Florence ticket we just had to make one small change that allowed us to stop at Pisa for a longer period of time!
  • Tt all worked out …we swapped out tickets b/c we bought the tickets that allowed us to swap once and we were set to take off at 9:03 AM to Pisa.  Awesome!

The rain stopped in the afternoon so we decided to head out and go on a paddle boat out in the water and then hang out at the beach!  The paddle boats were actually really cool b/c we essentially got to go anywhere we wanted to so we went over to the old town and then moved further past towards Vernazza.  The water was amazingly clear and you could literally see down 20 feet!

 

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We got back to the beach then and decided to layout for a while and, yep, I passed out for an hour or so!  We headed back to our hotel around 6:30 and got ready for our dinner at Miky.  As you recall, Paul and Melissa went there the night before and said it was really good so we were excited for it as well!  The hotel owner told us to order the linguini with monk fish but we strayed from that and got the sea bass! The linguini however was ordered by our neighbors and man oh man, it looked good too!  During dinner we actually met a couple from the bay area as well! Small world!  Dinner was amazing and of course we headed out to get our daily ritual of Gelato!

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After that we headed back to our hotel to start packing up and get ready to leave this amazing place knowing that we will be back one day!

Ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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