Monday, September 14, 2009

Field Trip!!

In September of 2009, my husband and I went on the yearly field trip offered by the local mom n' pop grocery store here in my village.  Two years ago, we went to Pompeii, last year it was Padova, but this year we went to the Cinque Terre in Liguria.  For those who don't know, Liguria is a northern region in Italy. The Cinque Terre has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We were the only young couple on the trip, so we got lots of teasing remarks from the senior citizens.  (all those tongue-in-cheek 'honeymoon' remarks...even though we've been married now for 12 years).
First we arrived at La Spezia, which is where Italy built it's naval base.  We rode up a narrow and winding road at the very edge of the hillsides.  We were in the backseats of the tour bus, so we got that swervy feeling in the pit of our stomachs everytime the bus driver turned a sharp curve.  I'm not Catholic, but I spotted a few others making the sign of the I joined in.
Our first stop after abandoning the tour bus was in one of the small medieval towns that make up the Cinque Terre--Manarola.  All the houses were painted with quaint colors, like little candies perched on the hillside.  We wandered around the narrow streets (cars were forbidden inside the city!)taking pictures.  In true 'keeping it real' fashion, I'd have to say that unfortunately there was no public bathroom.  So in every bar or ice cream parlor, the lines to the toilet were looong.  I finally caved in, bought a pack of gum, and made my way to the line, only to be verbally attacked by a woman who evidently had to go can't jump the toilet line, folks...lesson learned.
So our tour group caught the train to the next town we visited, Vernazza.  While waiting for the train to arrive, my husband and I hatched out a plan to open up our own public restrooms in Manarola and charge a fee to use them, genius really, but that's another story..
Vernazza had a nice view of the bay, and more colorful houses.  We caught another train to the next town, Monterosso.  This town had spectacular beaches, crystal clear water, and a cool ocean breeze.  We've decided to return on our next family vacation to Monterosso.  We ate lunch here at the restaurant 'da Ely', which I highly recommend!  It was here in Monterosso that we boarded the tour boat for the ride to Porto Venere.  We saw jellyfish in the ocean water while on board, I had never seen one so close up.  Arriving in Porto Venere, on the edge of a cliff is the church of St. Pietro.  The wall of the city is made up of narrow houses, unlike anything I've ever seen.  Such a beautiful port, with the Alpi Apuane mountains in the distance...I really liked Porto Venere most of all.  We boarded our tour bus and started the long ride back to our village.

All photos are my own.

I've included a link for those who are interested in planning their next vacation in the Cinque Terre.

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