Florence and Cinque Terre

16 Mar

Florence is a beautiful small city in Italy. Upon arriving in Florence as small as it was we could not seem to find our hostel. We walked down countless streets and after an hour of wandering finally made it to a corner with a tiny sign stating the name we had been searching for. After being on the Train since 5am we were ready to find a nice place to relax and have lunch. After we settled into the hostel, we started to explore the city on the most beautiful day yet. We found a cafe on the corner with a student discount! It was amazing for 5 euro I had a salad with 8 different ingredients of my choice and it was massive. I was in need of some vegetables, it had been carbs all the way since we arrived in Italy so it was nice to enjoy a light meal. After lunch we walked around and saw the Duomo, which is a famous cathedral that you cant miss in the center of Florence. It has a large dome on the top and is decorated with refined architecture and stunning mixtures of color from miles away. We decided after a whirlwind trip in Rome, Florence would be a little more relaxed. We took the afternoon to soak up the sun on the river and see the city from the heights of a near by park. We stopped at a store on the way home to pick up 3 bottles of wine for 10 euro… which we thought was a great deal until we tried them and realized why they were so cheap!

That night we went to see a Beatles cover band at a local club! It was a great time, super funny to hear all the Italians sing along to all the songs. The next morning we were not so lucky with weather, it was cloudy and raining. Determined to see more of the city we set off to find breakfast, buy train tickets to Cinque Terre for tomorrows early train ride, and start exploring. We walked through a market that seems to be set up there everyday because we saw it while we were searching for our hostel the day before. They had cool masks from Carnival, hand decorated and painted. Tons of scarfs, leather purses, jackets, bags, and other gifts. I bought my 6 year old sister a mask, I thought that she would enjoy that. I was pestered by a vender about buying a leather jacket, marked down from 300 euro to 100…good deal but I just didnt need one.

We walked around the different plaza’s and saw the fake david outside, and then went into a castle museum to explore. It was getting colder as the day went on and wetter as the rain started to get harder. Two of my roommates decided to call it quits and head back to the hostel. One wasn’t feeling well and needed to find medicine. My other roommate Melzy and I wanted to go to the Art gallery Degli Uffizi which had many interesting sculptures and the famous painting called the Birth of Venus. We waited in line for two hours!! We had planned on going to the academia to see the real David statue, but it was already late in the day, starting to get dark and we were getting hungry. We decided instead we would grab a gelato and hang out. The last night in Florence we were going to spend at a nice restaurant and have pasta. On the way home Melzy and I found a great spot not too far from the hostel. I had pear pasta! It was amazing!

The next morning we took the three hour train to Cinque Terre. Before our trip and all week, we had been concerned about the weather in Cinque Terre. It is the off season there right now and we werent sure how we were going to find a place to stay, if it was going to rain the whole time, or what we really were going to do there. While on the train we got a short view of the sea and it was absolutely the most beautiful site I have ever seen. The water the most crystal clear blue and green, the sun beaming through clouds and shinning out over the water. I was in heaven!! Cinque Terre is very different from other parts, there are no famous churches or museums, it is simply life, nature, and soaking up the culture of a town that has lived and function by rural land on their own villages. The restaurants catch fish in the afternoon for their dinner menu at 8. The grocery stores are stocked with fresh fruit, olives, wine, cheese and freshly made bread and pasta!

We entered the first city Riomaggoire and went searching for a hostel, you just walk into rental buildings and see what they have to offer. For the five of us, we ended up in a two bedroom with a living room and kitchen for only 16 Euro a night! Cant beat it! The small town was line with colorful buildings and a peer with a stunning view of the sunset, with only one main street and super steep, the town was easy to get a feel for. Everyone was friendly, even though almost no one spoke english so I got to brush up, or get a great start to learning Italian. That afternoon we spend time in the last two cities, we bought a five euro pass. The last city you could tell would be lined with people and entertainment in the off season, there were playgrounds for children, tons of cafe’s and outdoor bars with rooftop seating for a view of the Sea. All of them were closed and being fixed for the on season. I couldnt help but imagine all the boats right now covered, in the water and the beach swarming with people and children soaking up the sun. It looks like i will have to come back! They offer fairy rides between the town to get and ocean view of the towns. The next town down we spent the rest of the afternoon on the rocks in the bay listening and watching the massive waves break in the sun. It was by far my favorite place we had been so far. That night we went out to a nice restaurant. I had to try the seafood since I would probably never have something so fresh in my life again. Literally my plate looked alive, the shrimp was staring at me. It was really good though, perfectly cooked and steamed with pasta.

The second day we hiked between the first four towns. The final path was closed due to land slides but I had seen every view from the other path. It was rocky and rugged but well work the 4 hours we spend to see the view. The sun was beaming, I was able to actually wear a T-shirt. AMAZING! . I ran into a few guys from the program  when we got back to the city and hung out for the rest of the evening and then went out for Pizza and Pasta later that night. It was my favorite place in Italy. Hopefully I can go back one day!

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