Apologies for yet another travel-related blog post, but I need to get these out while it’s all still fresh in my head (travelling to five different cities within five days can be kind of confusing)!
I’m currently in Trieste until Saturday, and it’s my absolute favourite spot in Italy so far. It has the perfect combination of everything I look for in a city, and I am already thinking about how I can get back here ASAP. But I will save my thoughts about Trieste for another post. Today I’m writing about my travels in Cinque Terre, Pisa and Venice!
As you may recall, I initially planned to spend some time living in Cinque Terre this summer. However, after further research, it seemed impractical so I went to Florence for a month instead. But when I was in Naples, I met three different groups of people who would not shut the heck up about how amazing Cinque Terre was, so I decided I needed to see it for myself.
Em had already booked her flight to Florence by this point, so I asked if she wanted to tag along to Cinque Terre for an overnight trip. Is the Pope Catholic?
So, last Monday, we set off for Cinque Terre. It’s about a two-hour train from Florence to La Spezia. From there, it was supposed to take us 17 minutes to get to the town where we were staying, Vernazza, but it took almost an hour.
One thing you should know about Italy is that nothing ever runs according to schedule. This applies to not only trains but also shops, where designated opening hours are a laughable idea. Trains throughout the five towns of Cinque Terre are supposed to run every 20 minutes, but we were lucky to find one an hour.
People told me that Cinque Terre was a great place to visit as there were not many tourists there, but it was probably the most tourist-overrun place I’ve been in Italy! Because there were so many people packed on to the trains, we were stalled at each station for a long time, and it took forever to get anywhere.
We dropped our bags in our room in Vernazza at about 2pm, and went to snap some pictures and have lunch.
Any time I’m by the water, I have to order spaghetti vongole. I am disgusted with myself for once hating seafood.
After lunch, we jumped back on the train to go to the southernmost town, Riomaggiore.
As you might know, you can hike between all five towns. The entire hike from the first to the last is estimated to take around five hours, but we didn’t have enough time (or the inclination) so aimed to do two. We stocked up on hiking snacks (including some amazing biscotti below!) and set off on the first trail, Via del Amore (Pathway of Love). The trail earned its nickname as the young men and women of the neighbouring villages used to meet on it.
In a fitting metaphor for my love life, the trail was closed due to a landslide. So we frustratingly had to get back on the train to cover what was less than a kilometre to the next town, Manarola.
Manarola was beautiful! I can’t believe I took these pictures with my phone. The magnificence of these places really can’t be captured on film.
We then set off on the next trail, leading to Corniglia, and made it about five minutes along before we learned that it was closed, too! By this point, we were starting to think the world was against us. Back on the train we went.
Corniglia was my least favourite town, which is clear as I don’t have a single picture of it, other than this – which I snapped from afar during our hike back to Vernazza.
That’s right, we finally made it on to an open trail! The hike took us a little over an hour. The sun was setting, so we were racing against the clock to avoid ending up in a situation out of Wolf Creek.
We were both disgustingly sweaty, so we showered before heading out to dinner… where I had, you guessed it, spaghetti vongole!
On Tuesday morning, we woke up early and headed straight to the final, northernmost town, Monterosso al Mare. This was far more of a beachy town, and probably the only one I could live in – but for no longer than a couple of weeks.
I had my bikini on, but the water was incredibly rough and cold, so I was not going in!
We hung around for about an hour and then jumped back on the train to get to Pisa. My overall verdict of Cinque Terre is that it was beautiful, but no Amalfi Coast. Vernazza was my favourite town. I wish we could have hiked more of the trails, but it is what it is.
We only spent about three hours in Pisa. We went and took the standard tourist snap at the Leaning Tower (well, I did).
We then had lunch and a final gelato together, before Em headed off to the airport and I went back to Florence for one last night.
On Wednesday afternoon, I took a bus from Florence to Venice through the Tuscan countryside. I didn’t take any pictures as I was suffering from tourist fatigue, but it was the most incredible bus ride I’ve ever been on (and did I mention it cost €2?!).
My bus dropped me off in the middle of nowhere, which just so happened to be where the shuttle bus from my hostel was supposed to pick me up. Only the bus didn’t arrive, and my phone chose that exact moment to run out of credit. I had no idea where I was, nobody was around and my suitcase was completely broken by this point, so I was literally carrying my life in my hands while wandering around the streets of Venice in search of a cab at 10pm. How I didn’t have a complete breakdown, I still don’t know.
On Thursday, I went and explored the city. People had warned me that it was overrated and told me I’d be able to see everything in one day. They were right.
It is an extremely photogenic city. As it is composed of 118 small islands, there are canals everywhere you look. But it just didn’t take my breath away like many of the other places I’ve been.
My friends also warned me that I would want to die in Venice being surrounded by happy couples, but I was fine. I would have found the whole thing cheesy regardless of whether I was on team #foreveralone or not.
I have no shame in admitting that the highlight of my day on Friday was buying a new Macbook! My old one was 5.5 years old so this was a long overdue purchase. It was the last time I’d be near an Apple store for at least three months, so YOLO.
My hostel was awesome. It was dirt cheap (€6 a night!), with a buffet breakfast and huge pool. I needed to catch up on work, and there were worse places I could have done that.
Venice didn’t blow me away at all, and I’m glad I only stayed for three days. I started to think I was becoming desensitised to the beauty of Italy, until I arrived in Trieste. Nope. I did not stop smiling for about two hours after I arrived. More to come soon…
Have you ever been to any of these places? What’s the most overrated city you’ve ever visited?