Hello and happy Thursday!
We’re onto our last Italy post, and are finally talking about the well-known Cinque Terre (those sparklingly colourful mountainside towns you always see on Wanderlust Instagram pages and the likes). In the last post you will have seen how easy it was to actually reach these little havens, despite them literally being perched along mountainsides overlooking the raging waves (am I getting a bit dramatic? Oh, well why not. Life is ticking smoothly along – I need to inject a little drama). I’ll begin this final tale with what happened after Jack fell into the sea and was eaten by a humungous tuna.
(Sorry, I’m pushing it a bit now.)
Typically enough we were late to the boat, which was to leave at 8.45 on Saturday morning (the only boat going that day, might I add). I can’t remember why but I assume it was my doing, since I am perpetually late to everything. Still, we got our tickets and we got on the ferry pretty niftily and sailed off into the horizon…quite literally. We hadn’t known the boat would take two hours. Countless incredible views and two stiff bums later we clambered off only the first of the three (out of five) of Cinque Terre’s villages we’d be visiting. Vernazza.
Now, in the last post I also mentioned my prized possession of the holiday, didn’t I – Gianni Franzi’s book “Snow Always Comes from the Sea”. Well, here it is, for your convenience:
I was so excited about this book and about potentially meeting the writer (and owner of the restaurant ‘Gianni Franzi’ in Vernazza) that I hardly shut up about it. Obviously my goal for this town was to meet the man who’d put this book of tales together – you can imagine my disgust when I found that he would only be in the restaurant from 2pm and our dratted boat was boarding at 1.30. Still, we milled about outside watching the everyday life on the beautifully cobbled street (and me saying “OH my God – is that him?” at every elderly man who passed and Jack saying “It looks absolutely nothing like the picture in the book so I wouldn’t say so, no”). To give you a super quick outline: Gianni grew up in Vernazza during the Second World War. He recounts stories from his youth about simple childhood pleasures, trips to school, the town’s hotch-potch and amusing locals and the building of the railway to Vernazza which essentially joined the town to the rest of the country, since before the railway was constructed it was almost impossible, and very tricky, to reach the town. It was the introduction of the railway station that turned the town from an untouched haven to a huge tourist attraction. I love stories about Times Gone By and I love Italy and so the whole thing is like a dream in hardback, if you ask me (which I know you didn’t – you’re possibly wishing I’d shut up and get on with it.)
Here we also had divine gelato which was displayed in the usual glass container but with heaps of beautiful flowers and fruit and nuts and all sorts on top. The pistachio flavour had the most perfect little lightly-salted nuts hidden throughout that I’d ever had. Sadly we didn’t have so much time here – the boat was a little late to land (land? Pull in?) due to another boat parked in its place which had to be moved and the crew wanted us all to herd back on so they could take us to the next destination – Riomaggiore.
This is possibly the town that everyone recognises from the pictures of Cinque Terre. It’s the most colouredy and higgledy-piggledy place I’ve ever seen. We clattered off the boat and made our way up and down the windy steps leading to the village, which was a bustling metropolis of be-Speedoed men, grubby and happy kids rushing from place to place and leaping into the sea and young couples meandering about with paper cones filled with prawn tempura and calamari. It really was a lifestyle I feel I could get used to.
As for us, we collected up some peaches to take back on the boat with us and bought some colourful children’s goggles in order to go swimming with later on, when we got to the final destination of the day, Monterosso al Mare. Sadly I haven’t any pictures of this particular place, because we set up camp on the beach and I swiftly fell asleep while Jacko was reading his new book. At some stage I woke up in a daze due to the heat and stumbled off into the town to grab us some more gelato (number 2 that day, if you recall. But when in Rome, do as the Romans do and all that). In the centre of the town there was an elderly man who was seemingly a sort of DJ, standing behind a turntable and blasting electronic music out into a decidedly empty square. It was rather odd. But still, my desperation to avoid being implicated in his performance drove me into a very charming gelateria, and it proved a very fruitful little stroll.
That evening we arrived home so exhausted from the day out that we cooked up some food at home (Buffalo mozzarella, Italian plumb tomatoes and real pesto to be exact. Amazing) and then took a bottle of Montepulciano out onto the rocks and watched the stars (I saw two shooting stars and made a big excited scene, but sadly Jacko didn’t see either. A super day. “10/10 would go again” etc etc.
So that’s the end of the Grand Italian Vacation. As I write I am back in Dublin (sunny and warm, for a pleasant change) and Jack is adventuring around Vietnam. Thank God I’ve booked a sneaky weekend in Edinburgh this weekend – I can’t seem to stay in one place too long these days. Keep a look out for my Edinburgh news afterwards – Katie (as seen before in the Budapest post) has drawn up a huge list of activities to keep us going. It’s sure to be utter larks.
For now, cheerio and lots of love. Chat soon,
We did stay for a day and night in Pisa at the end of the trip, but we didn’t get up to enough to report on. There was a bit of this:
And that was about it. Still gorge, though.