Cinque Terre. Wowzas my friends. Cinque Terre is a collection of five villages on the eastern coast of Italy. It has definitely been my favorite part of my voyage to Italy thus far. The people were incredible, friendly, and extremely proud of their native villages. It has a much safer and much more communal feel than Florence and Rome, if that is what you prefer. Luckily, we got to spend the 4th of July here… and surprisingly, most people didn’t look at us like we were ignorant/idiotic Americans as we sported our USA swizzag through the streets/on the beach. We took the train from Florence to the villages. Each of the five villages has a small station, so the train provided a very quick method of transportation between villages, as well. Here’s a lil’ list of weekend highlights for y’all:
1. Our apartment: I was able to find a pretty insane apartment in the village of Vernazza for a bargain on Booking.com [exact apartment found here]. This location in the village gave us an incred view of the ocean AND the village. Also, it was very close to the square, which is treated as the center of Vernazza. Really, anywhere you stay there is convenient.. its pretty small.
2. Sunset Cruisin’: This was the first thing we did in Cinque Terre. We literally walked from the train station [in Monterosso] to Angelo’s Boat Tours for our sunset cruise. I liked this option because it allowed for a private tour on a smaller boat, so it was a calm and relaxing ending to a day spent on trains/in train stations. AKA: the last thing I wanted to do after being surrounded by disgusto, germy trains and the chaos that is the Italian rail system all day is be in the middle of yet another mass of strangers. Not calming.
At the beginning of our journey, we were served aparitivo [salumi, cheese, focaccia, and prosecco.. aka Italian champagne] and we got to jam our own tunes over the speaks on the boat. PRETTY fun if ya ask me. PS: got this badazz Kimono/coverup from PUBLIK, naturally.
THEN, we stopped at a dinner place [din is included in the price] with a set menu, so we were able to eat the best that the restaurant had to offer. They really like to show off their culture [i.e. food, drink, music, art, etc], so you can assume that when they suggest something in that realm, its ballin. As the sun set, we continued our cruise around the villages [sounds like something from a Nicolas Sparks novel.. but I couldn’t think of a way to make that less romantic/cheesy sounding.. so plz excuse]. They were even kind enough to drop us off in our own village, rather than at the boat’s docking point. These folks really go out of their way to make you a happy camper.
3. The People: Seriously, though. The people here almost out-shined the friendly folks of small-town Texas.. Almost. Like I said before, they want you to go home with only wonderful stories, because they need excellent recommendations [more visitors] to keep their economy healthy. We met new friends almost instantly, as we were lost on the way to our apartment [typ], and were directed to go to a bar called Burgus in the main piazza [square].. and it became my favorite night-spot. If you want to meet some of the badass village inhabitants, make this your go-to for nightlife. Its really small and cozy, and the bartenders will usually give you cheap drinks or just flat-out give you them for free [if you’re like us, and really try to involve yourself with the lives of the villagers]. My fav people were: The Boss & Uncle Jack.. yes those are their names. And obviously all the cute italian boys. Keep your eyes open.
4. Hiking: Besides the train, you can get to each village via hiking trails in the mountains. We woke up a leetle early on the 4th of July to get in a quick hike before we headed to the beach. We took the trail from Veranzza to Corniglia, which was no joke. The majority of the hike was up-hill/steep, so consider it your workout for the day. Or for the week. Its also pretty easy to get distracted from hiking the ass-building trails/stairs by the view of the ocean and the little vineyards.
It took us about an hour to get to Corniglia, where we stopped at Caffe Matteo for a snack and cappuccino.. and wine. Again, the staff was beyond amazing. Our waitress even gave us a discount.. probably because we were so happy and interested to be there. Bottom line: don’t be a sour-puss and you’ll have so much more extra cashmoney to spend in the little jewelry shops. We didn’t get the chance to hike to the other villages [though we did go via train], but I’m sure I will be back here at some point. Worth it.
5. The Seafood: Considering the villages are coastal, one could guess that this seafood is no-nonsense fresh/absolutely the most wonderful feesh you’ll ever have. My favorite place was Taverna Del Capitano because a 4-course meal with wine costs around 25 euros, which is an incredible deal considering the portion size and the variety. Again, our waiter, David, became one of our many friends… blah blah blah.
6. Obviously, The Beach: This one is a no-brainer. As you could probably tell from previous pics, the beach in Cinque Terre is unreal. We spent the rest of Independence Day on the beach with personal wine bottles, because, why not? The next day, we rented beach chairs on a private beach (with wifi, strangely) and relaxed by the water. all. day. Livin’ the life. Another perk was the handcrafted-by-God staff of lifeguards that we considered fake-drowning for. Lucky for us, we got invited to an Italian disco on the beach that night by one of them [Matteo, whom we saw actually save someone from drowning… omigod]. The best part of Cinque Terre is becoming so involved in local events/ talking to local people. So forget about how awkward you are / how much you can’t speak Italian and just TRY to communicate with the people who live there. It is so so worth it.
There were so many more perfect little scenes that pictures just could not capture. Cinque Terre is probably the most beautiful place I have seen in Europe thus far, and its hard to believe that another place could come close in comparison. Luckily for me, I have so much more traveling/discovering to do this summer, so it may just happen. Who knows.
Where’s your favorite Cinque Terre hidden gem? Lemme know dolls.
[ PS ]