The Cinque Terre
Trip Start May 10, 2009
12Trip End May 22, 2009
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
The actual dome is the first dome ever made. Construction began on the church in 1296 and at the time there was no technology for a dome so they built the church with a hole where their dome would go. With the great scientists and artists in Italy, surely someone would invent something. Construction on the dome began in 1420 and it was completed in 1436. We don't have that kind of patience in this day and age.
Off to Pisa. After wandering around a bit looking for a tourist information office that didn't seem to exist where it was supposed to, we decided to just get on the bus and head for the tower without a map. Our guidebook has served us so well so far. At the bus stop I was talking with Mom and a girl pointed to us and said to me and saying "They know English!" A group of 4 20ish girls had tickets to climb the tower at 2pm and it was already 1:30pm and they wanted to know how long it took to get there, and which bus to catch, etc.
This may sound blasphemous but when I first glimpsed the tower, I thought it looked kind of silly. It wasn't as tall as I imagined it would look and it remarkable that it doesn't fall over by the degree of its lean. We could also see how the church was also leaning (in the opposite direction) a bit but not so noticeably. We took pictures, walked around the tower, church and baptistery (they sure made huge churches back then) and decided to head back to the station. I purchased 2 bus tickets at a tabachi (corner store) using Italian. Mom gave me the high five when I told her I am getting a little more comfortable with the language.
There have been a couple of times when we lost each other: outside the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, in the train station in Florence, and at the tower of Pisa. We don't like to loose sight of each other because we can't call out to find each other and there are crowds everywhere.
Then it was time to head to the Cinque Terre. I had been told by the agent when I bought the train ticket in Florence, that after Pisa I should take a train to Sarvana and then switch for the train to Manarola (our destination). However, when we arrived in Sarvana I was told that there was no train to Manarola from there and we would have to go the Spezia and then change to another train to go to Manarola. We checked the board and Spezia was listed as being at track #2. When they announced that the train was arriving "da Spetzia" that didn't sound right to me and I pulled out my handy Italian language guide. Sure enough it was arriving "from" Spetzia, so I asked an Italian lady and she told me I was at the wrong track. I quickly ran to the board, realized the mistake (we had checked arrivals instead of departures) made it back and in a few minutes the other train arrived and we hopped on it. Whew!
After this hassle, and almost leaving at the wrong stop in the Spezia suburbs, the rest of the trip went and the next thing we knew we were passing mountains, glorious views of the sea and very much anticipating a few days of rest with some nice views.
Before I go on, I have to explain a little about the area we are in now. It is called the Cinque Terra and it is known as the Italian Riviera. There are 5 (cinque) towns along this coastline that hug the mountains which plunge down into the sea. When hotels or rooms or rent advertise on the internet, it is most common to mention how many stairs it takes. For example one place I was interested in was 176 stairs in a nearby town. So, when you figure that 13 stairs is a typical floor in Canada, 176 stairs adds up to quite a few floors if you do the math.
Back to my story now...We followed the directions from the train station. Go through the tunnel, turn right, walk for 13 minutes with no steps and the hotel is located next to the church. Mom read this and thought, "Great, no steps, I am tired." Ha. We went through the tunnel and turned right and saw the hill. It's very steep and long. You should have seen her face! I took the 2 suitcases and we started the climb. We climbed for a little more than 13 minutes with rest stops and wow, there was a cute little piazza in front of the church, a big yellow bell tower which gongs every half hour, and the entrance to our hotel was a small sign over the entrance "Charme and Relax". We walked along a narrow pathway and came to the tiny entrance with a no vacancy sign which opened onto a small terrace with tables and a view over the terraced countryside and sea.
There is actually a shuttle bus that brings people up here from town every thirty minutes. When we found out it only runs until 7:30pm, we decided to have dinner up at the local restaurant up behind this hotel (50 steps up then another 36 steps down to the terrace). Here we are on the terrace of a cosy restaurant overlooking the sea with dolphins cresting and the sun setting, and the music playing, and a friendly atmosphere and the menu is in Italian and English so we don't have to try to decode everything on the menu. So what does Mom want to order? Spaghetti with tomato sauce. I told her that she needed to experiment a little and that I would add the octopus and potato appetizer for her. After that, she got a little more adventurous (anything to avoid octopus) and chose their signature dish which was a spaghetti with shrimp and pepperoni which she really enjoyed.
Time to relax.
Where I stayed