Another early morning, another adventure—on Saturday, Connie, Tia and I rode three hours on the train to Monterosso, which is one of the five towns of the national park of Cinque Terre on the Northern coast of Italy. Each town is on the coast and they are all very small, but so picturesque with their steep cliffs and colorful buildings.
The day that we arrived was actually the start of the Lemon Festival in Monterosso! As we walking through the small crowded streets, we saw lemons everywhere—there were lemons in windowsills, lemons floating in the fountain, and of course lemon-flavored desserts sold along the streets. We walked along the beach, and though it was a bit chilly and raining (of course), I still took off my shoes to walk in the sea.
We spent that first day exploring Monterosso’s winding streets and then we took the train two stops over to the town of Corniglia. While all of the towns sit on cliff sides, Corniglia was up on one of the highest hills, and we had to climb so many steps that my legs were almost shaking. And by the time that we reached the top, we decided that we wanted to see the small harbor on the other side, so we had to do the workout twice! We worked up a hearty appetite and promptly went for an early dinner. Tia mentioned that the Cinque Terre region is known for its pesto, so all three of us tried different types of pasta with pesto, and they were all amazing. It was quite a big plate, but I enjoyed it to the very last bite.
The next morning we got an early start to the day so we could do some hiking; each of the five towns is connected by two hiking trails—a coastal trail and another more difficult trail that goes through the forest. Some of the trails were closed down while we were there, but luckily we were able to take the coastal train from Monteresso to the next town over, Vernazza. And while the day before was chilly and raining, Sunday was warm, sunny, and absolutely perfect!
To hike we actually had to buy hiking passes—after living in Kraków, I couldn’t get used to how expensive everything was in Euros, but I couldn’t pass up such an amazing opportunity. But unfortunately, everyone else seemed to have the same idea and the trail was packed—I think during my whole stay in Cinque Terre, I heard more English than any other language!
The hike started out with so many stone steps that it felt like they would never end. What I thought was torture the day before at Corniglia was nothing compared to this. We would stop every so often to ‘enjoy the view’ but really just to take a break so we would stop wheezing. But once we got to the top, there were amazing sights of the rocky cliffs and the bright blue water. The whole hike took about two hours, and by the time we reached Vernazza my legs were shaking and we were all drenched in sweat. Gelato was the only way to reward ourselves for such a strenuous workout, so we each got a cone and wandered around the city. We went through one cave and came upon a beach on the other side! It was so unexpected and so beautiful—I really wished I was wearing a bathing suit, but instead we just took some pictures and sat down to enjoy the sun.
I had to grab some pizza while I was in Italy, and of course it was delicious. After that we were off on the train to the do some exploring in Manarola and Riomaggiore. We had planned on doing more hiking, but we were a bit caught up in exploring the cities that we didn’t really have enough time, but I was glad to be able to see so much of the different towns. And at the very end of the day, we stopped for some more pasta—of course! I don’t think I’ve had so much pasta in a really long time, but it was so delicious that I couldn’t help myself! I had to try seafood pasta since we were on the coast, and I was amazed. I’m not usually a fan of seafood, but I tried so many new things like razor clams, mussels, and even crawfish. It was a bit messy, but I was too entranced to be embarrassed! And in true Italian fashion, I finished my dinner with a digestive shot of limoncello—yum!
After a deep sleep from the exhausting weekend, I was back on the train early to catch my flight in Milan. Luckily I had an hour to do some exploring, so by Tia’s recommendation I saw the Duomo, the Galleria, and I got one last gelato! It was another warm and beautiful day, and I’m sorry I didn’t get more time to explore the city, but I was glad to at least get a glimpse of it.
Italy was an amazing adventure, and I am already looking forward to my next Italian adventure—and my next gelato!