Honeymoon in Italy
Wow! We just got back last night from 9 days on the Ligurian Coast and had such a wonderful time! It would not have been possible without the outstanding assistance of a few VTers - Marco, Valentina, Maurizio and Antonello specifically - thank you so much!
It is the first travel experience we've had where we felt like we really maximized our time there and had no regrets about things missed; not that there wasn't more to explore, just that we spent the time well. Following are some of our more specific adventures...
"Camogli - Our first full day in Italy"
We lucked out with timing and were able to visit Camogli for the festival "Sagra dei Pesce". Tons of people swarming around a 5-meter pan that fried fish all day. The town was charming and having so many people around lifted our energy while adjusting to the jet lag. Lots of cute shops, quaint passageways, and a stellar focacceria on the way down to the harbor.
Getting to Camogli (and all other surrounding towns) was a breeze using the trains and buses. Public transportation in this area is so easily accessible and affordable, and much easier than both finding a parking place and dodging all the motorbikes in most areas.
From Camogli we took the ferry to the abbey of San Fruttuoso - beautiful if you love historic architecture (we do). The ferry was a little chilly, but the warmth of the people aboard was a great balance.
"The Cinque Terre"
We had our jet lag pretty well under control, a good breakfast in our bellies, and appropriate footgear for this adventure. We did wear shorts - a truly American feature - and felt a little out of place. Cargo pants would have been better.
After taking the train to Riomaggiore we bought our Cinque Terre card (used for unlimited access to the trails and trains, available as a 1, 3 or 7 day pass) and started down the Via dell'Amore trail to Manarola. It was a lovely walk along the coast and also a very easy one. In Manarola we detoured to the high trail and actually took a wrong turn, walking up the hillside into personal plots of land with small groups of grapevines, vegetables and wildflowers. Though it created a walk back down to the actual trail, the reward was a view that I think very view Americans ever get (photo below).
We managed to find the right trail and make it to Corniglia without further incident. There we had a snack (with espresso, of course!), bought a t-shirt, and experienced the first of what would be many squat toilets. Glad I had read about how to use them before we left, or it could have been a disaster...
From Corniglia we moved toward Vernazza. This was the hardest (and it turned out to be the final) leg of our hike that day. I have no idea what the actual distance was, but it felt like we were either going straight up or straight down the whole time. Not a hike for the less-than-hearty. When we finally arrived at Vernazza there were three steps down into the street. I contemplated them for several minutes before I actually dared my shaky legs to move... Vernazza was lovely; we enjoyed (okay, inhaled) a pizza each, then gelato. The square at the harbor was filled with people and an awesome quartet played wonderful music. We rested there for awhile, then took the train to Monterosso. After exploring a bit there, we headed back to our home base of Rapallo.