Starting our trip in Venice set the stakes pretty high for the rest of Italy. However, Florence & Cinque Terre sure know how to hold their own! Arriving in Florence just in time to drop off backpacks at our AirBnB room (booked the evening before!) before making the trek to see a Tuscany sunset over Florence. There were so many stairs to reach Piazzale Michelangelo but it was definitely worth it!
After taking in the square at dark, we had dinner at a little restaurant. Completely delectable; goodness, I love Italian food. It really is a good thing we did so much walking… I would hate to think of how many pounds I would have gained otherwise. 🙂
We had great intentions of attending a mass at the Duomo, however we forgot that Daylight Savings Time ended the evening prior, so we totally slept through it. Whoops! So much for that great idea…. the next best thing, finding food! (Did I mention that we truly were in Italy for the culinary experience?!)
After exploring multiple travel blogs for restaurant suggestions, we decided on La Menagere. It was delicious and the inside was so unique! You could watch the chefs at work, shop for some kitchen wares in their little store (think mini Magnolia market!), observe a florist create some daily bouquets or host an amazing party at one of their side rooms. If and when I open up my own bakery someday, there are so many elements that I want to use as inspiration from this little cafe.
Freshly fueled by coffee and pastries (breakfast of champions, I’m telling you!), we had the town to explore before leaving on a late afternoon train! Because we hit Florence on the weekend, there was quite the large crowds of tour groups we needed to avoid, not to mention innumerable peddlers all selling the same selfie sticks, same sticky balls, and the same “original” prints. Hah. You thought we didn’t notice? We quickly decided that we wanted to avoid people as much as possible and walked the quieter streets of Florence. I’m so glad we did–we found Pinocchio!
Changing trains quickly in Pisa, we were on our way to Riomaggiore for the evening. Since we had waited until the evening before to decide whether our itinerary would be Cinque Terre or the Almalfi Coast, we didn’t have housing booked. Brianne & I both enjoy living life on the edge, but had our fingers crossed that there would be some vacancies at one of the 5 towns. We knew that our train pass would allow us to easily get to the next town if necessary or back towards Pisa where more hotel options existed. It was all part of our grand adventure! Stopping in Riomaggiore, we found the main street and two hotels with vacancies. Perfect. After doing a side by side comparison and being completely creeped out by the second option, the first one sounded and looked great…. and it even included a breakfast with a latte (smile latte art included!).
We knew that our time in Cinque Terre was very short, so we wanted to make the most of every minute. Sunrise over the Mediterranean was first on our agenda. The view from the oceanside cliffs back towards the city was just breathtaking. Definitely one of my favorite memory snapshots!
In order to conquer all five cities in a day, our plan of action was to take the train up to the furthest city and gradually make our way back down in time to make a late afternoon train to Rome. After exploring Monterosso, we chose to hike to Vernazza instead of taking the train. All the hiking websites say the trail between Monterosso–Vernazza is only 2 miles and will take you 2 hours, they lie. It definitely felt more like 5 miles… of stairs. Although it is the most challenging of all the trails, I do believe it has best views. If you ever have the opportunity, you must do it too!
On our hike we passed by a local stand selling freshly squeezed orange juice. Yes please! He was so sweet (the man, although the juice was too) and just smiled at Brianne & I since he couldn’t speak much English. Walking along the path was incredible. Rocky cliffs, the ocean crashing below, lemon scents wafting through the air, vineyards, and the occasional musician playing as we passed by. We had to push pause so many times and just take it all in. The other 2 towns, Corniglia and Manarola were beautiful as well, although we didn’t have as much time to explore them as the others. Time had simply run out on us while exploring this amazing part of Italy.
Cinque Terre, you were simply beautiful! Next stop, Rome!
All images copyright of Katherine Pleckham / Kate Grace Photography and may not be used, distributed or sold without direct written permission.