We left Florence almost on a whim on Wednesday the 12th after recalling the pictures and descriptions of a small section of the Italian coastline called Cinque Terre (CHING-kwah TEHR-ah). We booked a place to stay only the morning we left Florence, just before heading to the train station towards the coast. We headed west through Italy, landing in Monterosso al Mare (the northernmost of the five towns in Cinque Terre). After that, we caught a train two towns north of that and landed in Bonassola, where we are staying.
Only we didn’t get off the train two towns north of Monterosso… we got caught up talking to some other Americans from LA who had traveled to Istanbul before heading to Eastern Europe, then to Italy. We attempted to get off at the correct stop, but when we made it to the doors of the train, they were locked! The train left the station about 5 seconds later. So, onwards to the next town, which turned out to be a tiny, tiny little town with an even tinier train station called Framura. No big deal, we will just wait for the next train going back towards Bonassola. The next train ended up being nearly an hour away. No worries though, as we are well accustomed to keeping ourselves entertained and recharging our batteries (literally).
Once we made it to Bonassola, we realized we made the right choice as Cinque Terre is FULL of tourists, but there are not a ton of people staying in Bonassola, so it still feels like a bit of a hidden gem. It is every bit as beautiful as the towns in Cinque Terre – just less crowded and a bit cheaper!
Today we decided to hike down to the walk/bike path near the water to get to the next town over. It is quite the hike both up to our room and down to the water – we are 650 feet above sea level, and the walking path is maybe just 85 of that! Going down was a bit shaky, but going back up was tiring after a long day out walking. When we got back to our room, I took a much-needed, long, cold shower. We walked to Levanto, then took the train to Vernazza (part of Cinque Terre). It is a tiny town carved into the steep hills, surrounded by beautiful aquamarine water. All the towns of Cinque Terre are similar – little colorful buildings stuck close together on a steep cliff/hill overlooking some of the prettiest stretches of the Mediterranean Sea you will ever see. After we walked around Vernazza (and enjoyed some gelato, of course), we took the train back to Bonassola. We found a Foccaciaria in town and picked up some tasty snacks and beer to bring to the beach for a little picnic. I managed to get stung twice by the same bumblebee (which felt more like my arm hairs were constantly being pulled out in two spots than anything else), but lived to tell the story.
The water looked so inviting all day and we were quite hot, so we stood in the water’s edge with the small waves crashing into us before heading back to our hotel.
One of my favorite spots along our walk today was this gem on our way down to the walking path…
Tomorrow we will likely bid farewell to this gorgeous piece of the Italian Riviera and head to Pisa (for the requisite photo-op with the leaning tower), then Rome.