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beaches and towers

March 20, 2009

Day 5 – Cinque Terre and Pisa

We woke early on our first morning in Florence and boarded the train once again for an ambitious day trip to Cinque Terre and Pisa. Cinque Terre is a national park containing five small villages along the Italian coast. Most people who come here hike from town to town, an adventure that usually takes anywhere from several hours to a couple of days. The hiking trails were closed and our time was limited, so we decided to train hop to just a couple of the villages.

monterosso1Our first stop was Monterosso, and it was here that I had my first taste of a mountainous coast. Oh my goodness, it was beautiful! The water was bluer even than the Caribbean. The beach was rocks instead of sand, but even the rocks were beautiful. They were every color you can imagine – green, red, orange, pink – most likely the same stone that was used to build the incredible duomo in Florence. We played on the coast for a while, dipped our hands into the icy Mediterranean, and then wandered the alleys of the village before boarding the train to Vernazza.

vernazzaI think Vernazza was my favorite of the villages we saw,  probably because we had one of our best meals of the trip there. We stopped in a little pizzeria and bought a pizza diavolo. We ate it sitting on the rocks overlooking the beautiful ocean and the quaint village. The pizza was the best I’ve ever had with almost no sauce, spicy Italian pepperoni and red pepper flakes to make it just hot enough that you need a good bottle of water handy. We followed the pizza with blackberry and lemon gelato. YUMMM!

manarola1We didn’t have a lot of time after our lovely lunch in Vernazza, only enough to get a glimpse at one more village. So we decided to take the train to Manarola. Of the three we saw, it was the most like a fishing village. There were little wooden boats that had been pulled in for the winter lining the main street through the town. We climbed up some never-ending stairs to the top of the village for an incredible view of the ocean before boarding the train to Pisa.

pisa1We arrived in Pisa about an hour before sunset and found the area around the tower beautiful and clean, and surprisingly uncrowded. I’m sure it is a much different scene in the summer. We walked around and took many, many pictures before sitting down to a lovely dinner outside a café just across from the tower. The building is definitely leaning, no question about it 🙂 We didn’t have time to see much else in Pisa, so we boarded the train for the hour long journey back to our hotel in Florence.

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