I have this annoying (or endearing?) habit of asking anyone that's traveled in Europe what their all time favorite trip was. Of course it varies, but about 3 times in 5, I seem to hear "Cinque Terre". Have you heard of it?
It's in the northwest corner of Italy. Just 1 hour from Pisa (that's the airport we flew into) and less than 2 hours from Florence (one of my favorite cities ever if you were wondering) :)
Since we're big "Rick Steves" lovers, I figure it would be best to let him describe his beloved region to you:
" The most fantasy-fulfilling stretch of the fabled Riviera lies not in France, but just across the border in Italy between Genoa and Pisa.
The Cinque Terre (CHINK-weh TAY-reh, which means "five lands") is a series of villages clinging to a remote stretch of the Riviera coastline. Each town is a variation on the same theme: a pastel jumble of homes crouching in a gully like crusty sea creatures in a tide pool, undisturbed by traffic or modern development.
The rugged villages of the Cinque Terre, founded by Dark Age locals hiding out from marauding pirates, were long cut off from the modern world. Today the villages, linked by a milk-run train, a ferry, and a spectacular trail, draw hordes of hikers. To preserve the character of the towns and the area's natural beauty, the government declared the Cinque Terre a national park a few years ago. Visitors pay a small entrance fee, which stokes a park maintenance fund and helps to maintain the trails."
Here's a more detailed map of the 5 villages.
We stayed in the most southern village. Riomaggiore. I can tell you how we adored it or show you a few pics and save 1000 words. ;)
Are. You. Kidding. Me??
We had lovely lunch, explored on the rocky banks of Riomaggiore and took a ferry ride to get a different view. We actually headed south to Portovenere, which isn't technically one of the 5, but it was recommended so we went. It was great and a nice break to ride on the fast ferry.. wind blowing thru our hair.. sun on our faces, enjoying the amazing views.
but how fantastic to arrive back in Riomaggiore...
I'd thought we might hike the entire Cinque Terre trail. It's normally about a 5 hour hike, but considering this time last year, we completed this hike, I figured we could handle anything! But there was actually a major flood this past fall in 2 of the villages and one of the trails is impassible, make it closer to a 7 hour hike.. and since the pupose of the trip was more to relax (a strict mandate from my family!!), we scratched the 7 hours and just did 2 legs. From Riomagiorre, there's more of a lover's stroll (Via Dell' Amore) than hike to the next village and it indeed was lovely. So we took our tossled beach hair and sunkissed cheeks and strolled over for dinner for a perfect end to a fantastic day!
And that was just part 1. Gotta check back for more next week! In the meantime, i pretty much promise you I'd move heaven and earth to do a photo shoot there so if you're headed that way and need a photographer.. just give me a few months/weeks/days notice and I WILL make it work. Any excuse to head back!! :)