Venice & Cinque Terre
Italy was like stepping into a fantasy word that you have been imagining your whole life. As I dramatically told Adam numerous times, it was everything I had dreamed of and more.
We started in Venice and were blown away by how gorgeous it is. I think it was my favourite city purely because it was the one we went to first. We walked around the little streets flanked by canals and broken up with bridges for hours. We stopped in little cafes and ate cannollis Italian style, standing up at the bar and downing an espresso.
We looked at the gondola prices and happily moved on without a trip down the canal – 80 euros for 40 mins was well out of our price range. Instead we sat at a little cafe bar drinking what the Venetians seem to drink at any time of the day, the Spritz.
In the heat of the day I was wooed by a lady selling homemade pineapple gelato. I ordered it with a scoop of milk cream flavour as well, it was only the best thing I have ever tasted in my life.
We bought our lunch at the supermarket and ate it in one of the city’s gated parks which seems to be a ‘lovers lane’ for all manner of couples on their lunch breaks cavorting in the shadows and on the grass.
For two whole days we pretty much just basked in all the glory that was Venice. We didn’t do much except walk around, take photos, stop for beverages and eat. It was wonderful.
One negative in regards to Italy was the price of accommodation. We found that there were no budget options inside the cities at all and if there were, they were booked weeks and weeks in advance. So Adam and I looked into alternative options and the best we found was staying in furnished tents in campgrounds outside each city. We did this in Venice which was great even though it meant that we had to travel a little bit (15 mins) each morning to get into the city. However it was well worth the money that we saved and could then spend on other important things such as food, of course.
After Venice our next destination was Cinque Terre (the 5 Lands). We had a few difficulties getting out there due to train strikes that apparently happen quite regularly in Italy. After almost 12 hours of waiting in train stations and sitting on trains, we finally arrived at our camp ground in Deveina Marina, a town located a few stops after the last of the five Cinque Terre towns. It was perfect. We had our own little pre-made tent with a double bed and room for our bags.
The hot water was hot and the campground offered free shuttles to the train station that would take us directly to the towns we wanted to see. Another plus was that there was a family run pizzeria opposite the campground where all the locals would congregate at night. The pizza was the best we had in Italy and at a fraction of the cost elsewhere… and the red wine was free flowing. Heaven!
On our first day in Cinque Terre, we looked into the famous coastal walk that joins up the 5 towns. To our dismay it had been closed due to part of it falling into the sea and an accident involving a tourist. But after a bit of searching we found out that there were other walks and it was only the coastal section that was shut.
The upper walk was still open but the lady warned us it would be strenuous. It was. We hadn’t been doing as much exercise as we were at the start of the trip and so we found ourselves sweating and panting almost embarrassingly so on the first leg between Riomaggiore and Manarola. There were just so many stairs, but the views were to die for.
The whole day was magic. Spring made sure the wild-flowers were out in full bloom for us which made everything all the more beautiful. We made sure to stop for a coffee in the first town, gelato in the second, special anchovy sandwiches in the third and a well deserved beer in the last.
Overall the walk took us about 4 hours not including the hours spent in the towns along the way. Needless to say we were wrecked as we staggered back to our campground that night… but not wrecked enough to skip going for our second night to the pizzeria across the road.
We had a few days in Cinque Terra so we made sure to stop back in at our favourite towns: Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare.
We joined the locals in Vernazza by taking a picnic down to the shoreline, staking our claim on a patch of cement and heading into one of the little bars to get a bottle of cold local wine and two plastic cups. We sat there basking in the sun, swimming, sipping our wine and eating our grocery-store feast. Vernazza that day was bliss.