It’s getting colder here in Chicago, and that has me daydreaming of warmer weather, blue skies, sunshine, and beaches. Daydreaming of all of that has me reminiscing about my European vacation this summer (I know I know, it’s all I talk about!). One of the highlights along the way was Cinque Terre in Italy. It’s actually the spot that spurred the cruise portion of my trip. My friend and I wanted to see Cinque Terre so badly, but did not want to have to deal with driving around Italy, mainly through the mountain towns (although it was just as tortuous in a bus as a passenger I must say), so we decided a cruise, with a stop in Cinque Terre, would be best. Boy did we make a good call. Cinque Terre, while insanely crowded while we were there in July, was well worth it.
If you have not heard of Cinque Terre, it’s 5 picturesque towns along the sea, each just oozing charm. You can count on seeing colorful buildings perched on bluffs, gorgeous cliffs and endless waves lapping nearby. Even with the crowds, it was stunning! We went to three of the five towns, which packed a lot into one day, but it was great to see so much. And let me tell you, this place was a real life postcard. Even standing in the midst of it, it never felt real. It’s such a memorable place and has definitely stuck with me, as I now dream (the actual kind, while I’m sleeping) of the turquoise sea and colorful cliff-side buildings, with cute little shops and yummy eateries.
Our cruise ship docked in Livorno, so we had a scenic ride through the Italian countryside to get to Cinque Terre. It was actually a really beautiful ride. We passed through Pisa, and from a distance could see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We also drove through a portion of wine country and through Carrara, where they produce none other than Cararra marble. It was pretty amazing seeing that in the mountains. I could envision my future counter top sitting up there! We also drove through the beautiful town of La Spezia, which seems like a nice place to spend time if you had more of it available. And hearing our guide for the, Diego, pronounce it was a real treat. Italians like to emphasize their Z’s! We still giggle about it today.
We stopped in Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso. My favorite was Manarola. It was more quaint, less touristy and had gorgeous views. Plus it was our first stop and just made a big impression as we pulled up to mountainside gardens and incredibly old buildings. A fun thing to do here is watch them put a boat in the water. I know, it sounds boring, but I promise it’s not. Since Manarola sits so high on a cliff, they use an old wench system to lower boats down into the cove. It definitely makes you feel like you stepped back in time. Some things never change! I guess the saying is true, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Sarah In Style Travel Advisory: I recommend visiting Cinque Terre in the off season. Even though it may be chilly, you won’t fight crowds in town and when trying to take ferries from one place to the next. While you may not be able to lay at the beach, you will still have plenty to do. There are endless restaurants and shops available, as well as hiking…which you can do through all five towns.
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