Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A long awaited return to Cinque Terre

This weekend may have been a bit of a bust, but we kind of needed it. All of our plans falling through forced us to stop, slow down, and rest. I woke up this morning bright eyed and bushy tailed, and ready to take on my morning run. I hope to keep up the good vibes and momentum, as we're taking a much needed and long awaited road trip this weekend...

...to Cinque Terre.

I'm trying to not freak out about it, but...


Longtime readers of this blog know, this is kind of a big deal. 

This is my Disneyland.

It's my ultimate happy place. 

It is seriously heaven. 


A heaven where campari and soda is a staple, amazing gelato is available at every turn, where pesto and foccacia were invented, fig trees, lemon trees, and orange trees are everywhere, seafood was caught thirty minutes before it was served to you, the water is blue as can be, olives groves are built into the cliffs, sea urchins and their terrible spines guard the rocks, and Birra Morettis are drunk on the beach. 


My favorite of the five towns is Vernazza, as it stole my heart on our first trip there back in April of 2011. We've been back three times since, but haven't gotten back there in almost (gasp!) 2.5 years. Blasphemy!

{The view once you've crossed over to Italy}

{April 2011}

And if you've never taken an Italian road trip, I highly recommend it. Coming from SwitzerFrance we drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel, which always leaves life open to adventures, like possibly going on a hike before crossing over to Italy...

{January 2012}

{My first Italian Espresso}

When you come out the other side of the tunnel, at which point Mont Blanc becomes Monte Bianco, you find yourself in the gorgeous Aosta Valley and Courmayeur. You also find your first Italian espresso. 

It is basically a requirement of crossing the border to stop and have a cup.

{Piazza Marconi, Vernazza}

The drive is gorgeous, with more castles and mountain tunnels than you can count along the way (we've tried). As you drive towards Liguria on the coast, you pass through several regions in Italy, such as Aosta and Piedmont, and it's amazing to see how much the scenery changes as you drive through each region. 

One thing that doesn't change however? The rest stops in Italy have better espresso than any we've had in fancy cafes in France or Switzerland. Italian rest stop espresso is seriously where it's at. So much so that I worry for Dan's health by the end of our road trip, because between my tiny bladder and his love affair with espresso, many more cups are consumed than should be by any person in a single day. And that's before we even get to our first cute little Italian cafe wherever it is that we are adventuring to. 


As for Oswin, girlfriend is really upping her jet setting status with this trip. Crossing over into Italy will mark the fifth country she has been to in just over 8 months of life, and what we haven't told her yet is that it's pretty much our favorite country. She'll get to stick her little toesies in the Mediterranean Sea, play in the sand, and maybe get a small taste of gelato. In my eyes it'd be a crime to bring her to Italy and not let her have a little taste of gelato. 

{Sunset in Riomaggiore}

But really just a little taste, because Mama doesn't share well. 


This trip will be a little different than our others to Cinque Terre, in that we won't be staying in one of the five villages. The apartment that we've stayed in a few times was already booked, and so was apparently every other apartment in the Cinque Terre. We found an apartment in nearby Levanto, which is right above Monterosso, the most northern of the five villages. Levanto is about 4 kilometers from Monterosso, and is on the train route that connects the five towns. At first I was a bit bummed, but this works as a natural compromise for Dan and me: he likes to explore new towns, and I do as well, in theory, however when given the chance I will always say "Let's go to Vernazza...and Pisa." This way, we'll be checking out a new town, and can still hop on the train to hang out and eat at our favorite restaurant in Vernazza.

{The beach in Vernazza}

I can't wait to share our trip with you guys, as Italian road trips have been some of my favorite experiences during our time abroad. We've found ourselves in everything from freak blizzards on the Mediterranean Coast, to earthquakes in Pisa, train strikes, avalanche warnings at the foot of Mont Blanc, and "stranded" for an extra night at a monastery-turned-spa due to earlier stated freak blizzard. We've been so fortunate to see so much and experience so much on those road trips, and I'm eager as can be to get started on this one.

Cinque Terre is such a special place for us, especially Vernazza, and it's a place we wish everyone could see at least once in their lifetime. We also feel so lucky to be able to experience Vernazza and Monterosso again, as the last time we visited it was shortly after the two towns had been virtually annihilated by flash flooding and landslides in October of 2011, and Vernazza was in ruins. It brought me to tears to see the shops and homes of the kind people of the village crumbling and uninhabited, and I cannot wait to see, in person, how the restoration efforts have worked out. 

Until then I'll be clearing old pictures off of memory cards, researching Levanto, and planning our road trip picnic menu. Check back here tomorrow as I'll be sharing some of our road trip essentials! 

A la prochaine friends...


P.S. Need some more Cinque Terre in your life? Here are some of my previous posts from our earlier visits to the happiest and tastiest place on earth! 

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Cinque Terre... on my list for decades! Somehow we never made it while living in France. Although we took the Mt. Blanc tunnel on our big Italian road trip, our route continued east: Turin, Milan and Venice. No less exciting, but not Cinque Terre. I believe our one chance came shortly after those mudslides, and so we put it off, wanting to see the villages in all their glory, In any case, I can't wait to read about your experience, this time w/baby!