Italy Trip: Cinque Terre and Pisa

12:29 PM

 I saw a picture of Cinque Terre on Pinterest.... and I pinned it.... thinking oh, that place looks beautiful and I want to go one day. Knowing in the back of my head that in reality, I probably wouldn't get to go there.... just like the other beautiful places I see on there. But when we decided to take our Italy trip, we just had to squeeze it in. So we stayed about 20 hours there..... and for our situation, I felt it was a good amount of time. 

We arrived right around lunch and, on the recommendation of our hotel's receptionist, went to this little seaside restaurant. We wanted to order seafood. I mean, we are on the sea. So we decided to get shrimp.... I figured it was a safe bet especially considering I didn't recognize the names of the other fish.  I guess I should start by saying that we are from Tennessee.... in case you didn't know..... and although we have travelled, when we get shrimp, it usually comes in a neat little C shape with or without the shell to peel.... Well the waiter brought our  dishes out and.... 

We were both a little surprised. We have no experience with whole shrimp. There were no other patrons at this restaurant that we could spy on to see how it's done. So, we dug in the best we knew how. Mine were split up the middle so that made it a bit easier. JR's were completely whole. As he was separating the head from the body this awful green juice flew out everywhere.... Needless to say, both of us lost our appetite. The setting was perfect, but the shrimp tasted like it was straight from the sea. Perhaps our opinions were skewed by the flying green juice, but it tasted like I pulled it from the ocean and warmed it up in the microwave. I'm going to say it's because we were newbs and didn't have proper expectations, but that was our first Major dinner fail of Italy. 

We took the above picture on the boardwalk there and It immediately made me think of the picture below that we took almost 5 years ago when we first moved to hawaii. Man how things have changed.... Then we were newly married (1yr) just moved across the pacific.... now, we've been married 6 years this sunday, with a 2.5 year old and another baby on the way.... and moved halfway around the world....back across the pacific, then across the atlantic. 

Anyway, Perhaps because we haven't been to a real beach since hawaii, it really reminded us of Oahu. I miss hawaii sometimes. Mainly the scenery, the sun, and a few great friends we made there. Lacey, Jodi, Tim, Jenn, Jessi.... You are greatly missed..... come visit us!

Our hotel was in Monterosso al Mare.... which had this great beach. But considering we only had that day to see things, we kept moving. 

First we went to Vernazza, It was a colorful town with a nice little city center that was right at the water's edge and everything sorta turned into a maze from there... heading uphill and into these tiny little stairways. 

After our disastrous lunch, we had to get a little bit of sustenance... so of course we got gelatto and paninis.  

Cinque terre is basically a group of coastal villages. There are coastal hiking trails that you can take in between the villages. All but 2 were closed on our visit.... not that we would have been able to hike with Milo anyways. I heard from a couple other guests that people had to be airlifted out from one of the trails the day before... JR and I did hike up to a few lookout points..... because that's the beautiful view and you just have to.... JR was a trooper and carried the stroller and the backpack and I just held Milo's hand while my awesome husband patiently waited  every 10 steps or so because our pace was so slow.

This view is on my GPS everytime it loads up..... lol... now I can say we've actually been there :) The view is worth it. Because the walkways are so narrow and everything is so crowded together, you can't really get a sense of the beauty of it when you are walking among those buildings. All the other passersby on the trails said that Milo was awesome and gave them motivation.... she really was a trooper. 

We also climbed up to a lookout on the other side of the city... It was probably my favorite as far as the view. You can see some of the other villages off in the distance. 

Then we went off to Riomaggiore... By the time we got there it was about 4-5 in the afternoon so many of the tourists had already headed out of cinque terre and back to their hotels which were more inland.... so it was nice and relaxed and not crowded at all. Riomagiorre is even more steep than the others. The city is based around this main street that goes straight up the middle That day my fitbit logged 65 flights of stairs we climbed that day. Those hills are no joke. 

We really needed a wide angle lens here... it was so hard to get everything in the picture from this vantage point (which is the furthest out I could get). Because of the way Riomaggiore is shaped, there isn't really a way to get a view of the full city unless you are on a boat.... which we looked into taking a ferry ride across all the villages but the ocean was too rough the day we were there. But I'm sure it would have been beautiful. 

I did a little bit of shopping here. I just got a few spice mixes and things. Evidently Cinque Terre is known for it's limoncello.... and they have their own olive oil.... both made from olives and lemons grown on those crazy steep hills. It was amazing to see the little gardens all along the hikes. Any flat space they had was a garden....even if it was only a little 5x8 section. 

There wasn't really a lookout for this city, but they do have a great road that runs  along the top of the hill...... it gives you a different perspective. The trail that leads from this town to the next is known as Via dell'Amore, A "Hike" we would have gladly travelled. It's only 1km long and is paved.... sadly it was closed. Supposedly it has some of the most picturesque views, but you can ready here why it was originally named the lovers pathway. After that we had dinner at a restaurant in Riomaggiore where we met 2 other American couples that we chatted with throughout dinner. 

The next morning we got up and took the train to Pisa..... that's how we got from one city to the train... and it really was a very easy process once we figured it out. If it was going to be cloudy any day, we were glad it was this one. We really got so lucky with all the great weather on our trip. Not too hot, not too cold, not rainy.... well except for pisa.... when we were caught in a torrential downpour... 

If you've been to Pisa, you know that's really all that's there....and it's in the middle of this big square.... with no where to hide when the rain comes. We had just gotten there and it started pouring. We tried to run into one of the churches to get a ticket just to get out of the rain.... but you had to buy the tickets at the other end of the square. At one point Milo and I just got as close to the wall as we could and hid--not well-- from the rain. It finally cleared up and we snapped some pictures while we could. 

Of course you have to have Milo's token pose. 

We also found Milo this cute camera.... it's one that when you push the clicker, the wheel of images inside switches to the next one. She loved it. Took pictures of everything. And I had to put my hand up every time she took my picture for about 24 hours after Pisa (bc that's what everyone was doing in Pisa). 

Eventually she gave up on the hand thing, but would make JR and I get close together so she could take our picture.... comes and moves me, then JR, then me, then JR, then says "all-right"....walks over and says 2-5-6 cheese.... 2-5-6 is the new 1-2-3, don't you know. 

This is my token picture. I saw one somewhere that the person was laying on the grass and had their feet "propped" on the tower. I wanted to try that but I guess bc of the rain, you couldnt get on the grass. Probably for the best. I can picture it now. Me laying on wet grass, JR trying to get me to aim my feet just right....keep in mind I dont have the best core strength while pregnant..... and Milo... running loose,  laying on the ground bc mommy is doing it.... it's probably better that the grass was closed. 

Instead, Milo took pictures of everyone else. Check out her compared the actual picture taker in these pics. lol

My always prepared Husband had an anorak....which I usually make fun of him for because it's dorky... but you know who was dry, My husband..... you know who was soaked.... Milo, in her sweatshirt hoodie, and Mommy in her "water resistant" cute rain coat.  We could really only bring the necessities... Milo and I packed in one carry-on....and JR packed in one.... then we had a spare one for snacks, diapers, electronics, and souvenirs.... I was pretty proud that we packed so light on such a long trip. But JR brought the anorak... and you know what, He probably had his waterproof pants that fold up into a little pouch, but it stopped raining before he could put them on. Always prepared. 

JR and I decided that we would kill it on amazing race. He's always prepared and is resourceful... I'm good at navigating and figuring out local transportation.... We decided JR would be in charge of those crazy challenges like, sprint up this huge hill to the castle to grab a flag then run another mile to get your next clue... or the ones where you have to eat an entire pot of cheese...I am not a fast eater and I'm not as physically capable as JR.... I would do the challenges of where you have to find a needle in a haystack or put a puzzle together. JR gets too frustrated. We've got it figured out... 

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