I realise that my first post-honeymoon post was only describing one day so I will try to make the rest of the trip fit into two or three new posts rather than a day-by-day account – snore!
Still in Italy…
After hanging out in the beautiful Florence we drove through Tuscany for a couple of days. We didn’t really have a plan and hadn’t booked anywhere but our travels took us to Siena and then back up through Tuscany to Lucca. It was stunning and so varied! Our only regret was not having more time to do some more exploring and also that we couldn’t stop in the vineyards because we were driving.
After Tuscany we went up into a National Park and looked at a couple of small villages literally carved into the mountains and surrounded by some beautiful bush land and rocky mountains. It was like looking at another world.
Then it was on to Cinque Terre, with a quick detour to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We had been pre-warned by loads of people that there wasn’t much in Pisa aside from the tower and that it was literally a coffee stop and we’re glad we listened because it definitely lived up to its reputation. However, there’s a funny little feeling you get when you actually see with your own eyes one of the most well-known sites in the world so we’re glad we made the detour because Tower itself was worth seeing.
Cinque Terre is on a completely different level and like Croatia, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The five small fishing villages are so colourful and small and cute, with really narrow cobblestone streets which were obviously built with donkeys/horses in mind.
We managed to get a studio apartment relatively cheaply in Riomaggiore (the most southern Terre of the five) with our own kitchen etc, which was short walk to the water and the start of the trek. The towns are shouldered by incredibly blue sea and massive cliffs on one side and more cliffs populated by vineyards on the other side. The trek is tough going but worth it because the views are first rate. One of the towns, Vernazza, is still badly suffering since the floods in Oct 2011 which is a real shame and quite heart breaking to see, but it is busily being rebuilt. In the meantime you can’t travel on foot between that village and Corniglia and can only go by train and the section between Manarola and Corniglia you can’t do the coastline but you go up into the vineyards and through some of the small towns off the coast. It was tough – and at one stage Colin thought he was nearly going to die or have to give up but we pressed on, stopping for an ice cream and a bit of lunch in the middle town (Corniglia).
At the top of the five villages, Monterosso, we were pretty tired after the big walk, and hot, so we stopped for our first swim of the trip which was FREEZING cold but worth every second of it, and then we went and had some drinks before catching the train back. I was keen to trek back again at the start of the day but we were late setting off (after spending the previous night sitting at the beach bar having cocktails) and if I’m really honest I was pretty knackered afterwards. Colin already knew he wasn’t going back on foot from the minute we set out! We treated ourselves to a seafood dinner and some more wine (Mum, Italian wine is actually good for you!)
I could live in Cinque Terre and it would be great if one day we could buy a little apartment there to holiday in!
After Cinque Terre we drove to Genoa where we caught the train across the border to Nice but the French leg of the trip will have to wait for another post. Stay tuned…