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Sunday, August 4, 2013

July 31, August 1, 2, 3, & 4, 2013: Cinque Terre with Cousin Dawn!

I am so lucky to have had this weekend with my cousin! Dawn and I started off our 5Terre adventure by meeting in the Florence train station (Santa Maria Novella) at about 11am on Wednesday the 31st. We took a series of trains and ended up in Levanto, a little village right outside the five villages of the Cinque Terre.

The Cinque Terre (5 lands) is composed of 5 small villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, Riomaggiore. Over the centuries, people have built terraces on the rugged and steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. Part of its charm is the lack of corporate development. It feels like old beach towns, everyone walking around in their bathing suits, taking in some sun, or drinking by the water. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach them from the outside. The first historical documents of the Cinque Terre date back to the 11th century. I don't think I've ever seen such beautiful and clear water in my life. My pictures are actually hard to believe, and I'm the one that took them!

We stayed at a little hotel in Levanto. Our first day was spent going in the water there, where it was VERY rocky and the current was high. I got a few bruises (battle wounds), but that's okay. I also got slightly stung by a little jellyfish, I think, but the rash went down in about an hour after I got out of the water. We decided to eat at a little hotel that Dawn had been to before (she's been to SO many of these restaurants before, as she is a tour guide in Italy), and of course it was delicious. Our favorite part of the meal was the baby octopus potato salad- amazing! We both split a big dish of spaghetti di mare, a mixed seafood spaghetti with clams, shellfish, baby octopus, and shrimp. A nice cold bottle of white wine topped off the night, and we had a great visit together and talked about our awesome family, who we miss!

The next day was a whirlwind! We woke up early and took the boat around the five villages so I could see them from the water. They are so quaint, beautiful, and beautifully situated on the water. Each town has a different feel and vibe. We got off at the last one first, which was Riomaggiore. We shopped a lot- we realized this trip that an addiction of shopping must be in our family's genes! We both loved all of the same things and helped each other purchase beautiful jewelry and accessories. We then went on to Manarola, where we swam in water that you could see through completely. We were enclosed by cliffs around us, and people were having fun jumping off of the rocks into the cold salty water. I commented that this water looked like a "water park," set up perfectly for people to enjoy. The pastel colored buildings were overlooking the cliffs as we swam, and I just couldn't believe that I was there!

We then headed over to Corniglia, where you cannot swim because the town is so high off of the water. It's actually quite a hike up the zigzagging steps to get there, but the views were worth it. This was definitely the most quiet town in my opinion. We got some cappuccini and hung around the small piazza.

We only had two more villages to go, but decided to skip Vernazza and save it for the next day. We ended our afternooon/evening in Monterosso, the most popular of the five villages. We shopped some more, and ate the most delicious dinner I think I've had on this trip. We ate at Ciak, a restaurant that came highly recommended by the Goodman family. To start, a bottle of white wine, and their antipasti- about 8 plates of sample size seafood dishes (anchovies, snails, shrimp, stuffed anchovies, mussels, and more!). We ordered the seafood risotto, that came out in a GIANT sizzling pot. I have a great picture of it below! The evening ended with us going back to Levanto and listening to a live Italian band in the piazza. Great day!

Friday was another early morning, and we headed over to Vernazza on the train. This town is absolutely adorable, with great restaurants, cafes, and shops. We had a nice long cappuccino break on the water and took some fun pictures. Since we were getting the train back to Florence today, we needed one more swim because Florence is an oven lately! We jumped in the water one more time, and had fish swimming all around us in the little beach area. This was such a beautiful weekend and I cannot believe I was there!

Back to Florence on Friday night. After our costly dinner the night before, we decided to get 5 Euro paninis at All'Antico Vinaio (remember, the sandwich place that served sandwiches the size of your face?). It was delicious, and we topped the night off with window shopping, gelato, and listening to music on the Ponte Vecchio.

Saturday was the day we were heading down to Umbria to spend some time at Dawn & Luke's house. I hadn't seen Luke that much, so it was going to be good to have some family time! We met up with Luke and Jess (the lovely girl that went to the JALC concert with us about a month ago) and had a great dinner at Da Noi in their town (Citta di Castello). It's a gorgeous medieval walled town with a lot of charm, beautiful churches, and a very nice small-town vibe. We ended our night with listening to a jazz band in the piazza. I am so thankful to have spent the time I had with Dawn and Luke. We had a lot of laughs, especially while we were telling Odie's New Bedford Police Dept. stories to Jess, who was kind of horrified. That's a whole different blog for a different day. :)

Now, I'm back in Florence. I'm doing some laundry to get prepared to pack for the end of the week. Tonight will be a quiet night. Small dinner, gelato, and a walk up to San Miniato, because I've heard that the monks chant on Sunday nights.

Thanks to Dawn and Luke for a wonderful weekend! Love you.

You would think that the cream colored painting was the actual architecture- but it's a trick of the eye!

Levanto

Levanto

On the boat around the Cinque Terre

Beautiful home!

Riomaggiore


Waaaay off in the distance, past the island, you can see France. NBD.







Dawn and I, after our boat ride!

11th century "water park"


Rock jumping

Cemetery in Manarola

My favorite view!

Also my favorite swimming spot




Seafood risotto from Ciak

Antipasti from Ciak





Vernazza


This is where our last swim was


Antipasti from Da Noi, where Dawn, Luke, Jess, and I had dinner on Saturday night





Cousin love!


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