Le Cinque Terre

This weekend, Becky, Amy and I took a two day trip to Le Cinque Terre. A two hour train ride away from Florence, the 5 small towns line the south-western coast of Italy, each separated by 15th century hiking trails. We had originally planned on going with our school here, that had planned a  volunteering trip there to  help out the town of Vernazza with damages caused by the hurricane that hit the region in October 2011. But the spots filled up quicker than we’d expected, so we just ended up going on our own. 

Friday morning we got up at 5am, walked to the Santa Maria Novella train station, and caught the 7am train to Pisa, then a connecting  train to La Spezia, and finally one last 7-minute train to Riomaggiore (the first of the 5 towns). From there, we hiked to Manarola, took a train to Corniglia (that second trail was closed because of damages caused by said hurricane), and finally hiked an intensive hour long trail to Vernazza where our apartment was. Strenuous, but so worth it. Once we go to our room, we put on our swimsuits, and headed to the rocky beach. The water was THE cleanest I’ve ever seen. I’m used to the Santa Monica and Venice beaches, where you can’t even see one inch past the surface of the water. But here? It was turquoise and as clear as spring water. 

After a nice(and very much needed) shower, we went out near the water for a glass of Prosecco to watch the sunset. As luck would have it though, we ran into the volunteering group while sitting there, who’s coordinator told us we were more than welcome to join them for dinner that night and help out the morning after. 

So dinner came and went, after which we met up with some other SU kids who were staying in Riomaggiore  some wine on the rocks by the water.

side note: the moon was ORANGE. WTF?! 

Saturday morning, bright and early at 8am, we headed to a vineyard in Vernazza, about a 5 minute walk inland from the main town.  This was where you could really see the effects of the hurricane. I can’t really begin to describe it (look through my pictures?), except that everything from bridges, to crops, to house and cars were destroyed. So that morning all 17 of us went out to this vineyard, owned by a 91 year old italian man (who happened to working there that day as well). We picked grapes for about 3 hours, after which we headed to the cellar where they made their own wine (both red and white). It was such an incredible experience. Harvesting grapes?! Crazy..

Once the morning was over, we met with Joe and hiked the somewhat strenuous hike to the fifth and final town of Monterosso for some more beaching. The water there though was significantly dirtier (as it is the most crowded of all the beaches), so we took the train back to the second town of Manarola. After a couple cliff jumps (it. was. AWESOME. talk about an adrenaline rush!), some amazing lighting and a few more pictures, we got dinner, gelato and finally, finally headed back to Florence.

I’m officially going to put Le Cinque Terre on my list of favorite places in the world, tied for #1 with both Longsheng and Yangshuo (Guilin province of China). I recommend you put them all on your bucket lists right now!

An amazing weekend, worth every penny and every drop of sweat. Our legs are sore, my nose is now running, but worth it, through and through.