CINQUE TERRE, ITALY + PAISLEY AND PARK
Hey guys! I hope you are all having a great week! I already wrote this post out once and then came back to edit it and - it was gone! Idk what happened. It may have to do with a mysterious ghost floating around... who knows, but here we go for round two! I'm writing this on Halloween, thus the ghost joke, and Jordan & I have a pretty awesome costume to wear. I posted a picture of it on my Instagram, so go check it out!
Today we are time-traveling back to my trip to Italy again! I wrote about our first adventure in Venice here and here. Our second stop was Florence! A few months before the trip, mom and I booked two excursions from Florence on back to back days. One was to Cinque Terre which means "five lands" and is comprised of five towns on the coast of the Mediterranean. The other was to Tuscany and is worthy of it's own blog post, which I'll post in the next month or so!
We went through Trip Advisor and booked this tour to Cinque Terre. I highly recommend it! Mom and I only walked about 5 minutes from our Airbnb to meet the Tour Guide in the city center. We arrived at 8am - right on time - and there were two male tour guides. One was gathering his group of 8 people that had already arrived, and the other waited a few more minutes for the remaining 8 people to arrive. Our group was made of mom and I and 3 other married couples from Boston and New York. Our tour guide gave a quick introduction, and led us over to his nice-looking, sleek, black van.
Our guide was local Italian with a thick accent - which made it fun and sometimes funny to listen to! He talked to us as we left the city explaining what we would do that day and a few highlights we were passing on the way out of town. We were headed to 3 out of the 5 cities that make up Cinque Terre. (The company used to do all 5 towns in one day, but tourists complained that that was just too much. They cut back to 3, instead, which ended up being perfect in my opinion!)
After we got out of the city, beginning our 2 hour drive to Cinque Terre, the tour guide kept quiet, letting most of us fall asleep. He did comment on a few things as we drove for the few that were still awake - like the tree farms we passed that have been handed down from generation to generation - or the mountains that look snow-covered, but that are actually just marble that's been cut away year after year. It was a smooth ride on the highway for the majority of the 2 hours. The roads turned curvy and narrow as we got closer and closer to the coast.
When we arrived in the first town, our guide found a parking spot out of town, on top of a hill, and walked us down down down until we reached the main street of town that ran down to the water. The cove, pictured, harbored the dock where one large ferry stops to pick up people and carry them between each island.
Our guide gave us about 1 hour to explore the city, the walkway along the cove, and up to lookout spots. He told us to meet him at the dock when we were done.
Mom and I were up on one of the lookouts, getting these amazing shots, when I noticed through my camera lense our tour guide waving both arms over his head. He was flagging us down because the boat had arrived and we were about to miss it! There was no way mom and I could run to the group - the walkway back was steep and crowded with people so we hurried as best we could back to the group - but it was too late. The boat was already pulling away. We asked if we were late, because we were sure we had been watching the clock, but our new friends assured us that we were not late, the boat was just early! This happens all the time, our guide says, and it was no problem, we'd just catch the next one.
So we eased our way down the rock-carved stairs to a make-shift line formed between the rocks that encircled us. The water dripped down the walls as we waited between other tour groups who had also missed the boat. - See where that pun comes from? haha When the next boat arrived we all stood to one side and hugged the rock wall while people exited, squeezing past us.
This is where our tour guide left us. Yes, he really did leave! He told us that he was going to go get the parked car and that he would meet us at the next town. He told us to grab lunch, to explore, and meet him a certain time. I think he gave us two hours or so.
Our group really banded together at this point! We made sure everyone got on the boat and sat together and worked together to remember which stop was ours. We travelled a quick 10-15 minute boat ride to the neighboring town and went straight to the lunch spot our tour guide had recommended.
We ate at Belforte Restorante Bar which literally has tables cliff-side that you can see as you pull up in the ferry. The service took sooo long but our good-looking waiter was very entertaining. Every time he came to our table he would beatbox (N st N st N st) or sing to us and he wore a new hat or pair of sunglasses each time he returned. He even used a nearby column & pole danced for half a second! The older ladies looooved that hahaha they hooted and hollard at him.
After lunch we hiked to the top of the town where our tour guide told us to meet him. He was there! He did not leave us in Italy to fend for ourselves like we may or may not have suspected...
He drove us over the the third and final town, honking (to warn oncoming cars) as we rounded tight curves meant for only one car at a time, and stopping cliffside once to open the van door for us to take pictures of a particularly beautiful view.
We parked once more and he took us into the final town of the day with promises of the best Italian gelato ahead. This town was probably my favorite - although it did seem small. He gave us the most time here to eat our gelato and wander around. Mom and I stepped into a side alley to snap pictures of my new olive green jacket. She was getting so comfortable being my model (while I set up the lighting and other things) that she even struck a few poses! I have been forbidden to post them here, but I am definitely keeping them for myself.
When we had all had our fill of this final town and the coastal views, we hopped back in the black van and rode two hours home. Almost everyone fell asleep again for a little while, but we were definitely much more chatty after spending the day together! It was tough to say goodbye when we got back to the city and two couples even went off together to hunt for a leather purse market they had heard about.
If I ever get the chance to go back to Italy, I doubt I will stay in Florence, I'd much rather stay in the smaller towns like Cinque Terre or even somewhere in Tuscany or the Almafi Coast would be so cool too! Have you ever been to Florence? What was your favorite spot or town nearby? I'd love to hear in the comments below!
*Thank you Paisley and Park for sending this gorgeous green jacket & cute black tank with me. I used the jacket almost everyday, it was so perfect!
Thanks for stopping by!