the beautiful colorful houses in Italy

I’ve been way too MIA these past couple of months. But fear not! I have a (somewhat) big update (yes it’s about traveling).

Before I start, I created a separate blog for all my pictures. I will post some here, but most of the food pictures and scenery will be here.

Let’s begin:

One day (March 22 exactly), as my friend and I were going to town on the rather slow metro for lunch, we realized that we both wanted to travel somewhere after exams (April 17-April 21), but couldn’t find anybody to travel with. I always say everything happens for a reason (that morning she didn’t want to go down with me because of the rain, but remembered she had an appointment in town so we went anyway), and that was when we decided to go to Cinque Terre, Italy (except that we called it the colorful houses in Italy).

That afternoon when we came back home, we immediately started researching. We found out that Cinque Terre wasn’t a destination- it’s a section of the coast of west Italy that encompasses five UNESCO heritage towns- Monterosso (biggest), Vernazza (most beautiful- yes we stayed there), Corgnilia, Monorola (smallest), and Riomaggiore. And yes, this is the town that has the colorful houses that you’ve always wanted to go to but had no idea what it was called.

First we booked our train tickets- they were 115CHF from Lausanne to Milan, and another 50 euros from Milan to Vernazza. Altogether, it is a 9-hour journey, so bring a book and lots of snacks.

After searching high and low for places to stay, we realized this: there are no hotels in any of the towns- they are mostly bed and breakfasts, or rooms within a building (so hostels?). There are sea view rooms which are more expensive, or normal rooms. After deciding that we wanted to stay in Vernazza, my friend and I started googling accommodation in Vernazza and emailing all the places. Accommodation ranged from 80euros a night to 150euros a night with breakfast (for 2), so it really depends on your budget; we of course, opted for the cheapest choice, which was totally worth the money.

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We arrived at night (the lady met us at the cafe right under the train station and brought us to our rooms- a 2 minute walk away), so we took a shower and passed out.

Vernazza is a beautiful town with lots of nooks and crooks for its visitors to discover. On the first day, we went to the center (a 5 minute walk from where we stayed) of the town, took a bunch of pictures and picked a cafe to have breakfast. The cappucino is one of the best I’ve ever had (the foam is amazing), but the pastries were pretty mundane. I assume that they don’t have the resources or time to freshly bake new pastries every morning, so they either get it frozen or they’re a few days old. We followed a path that pointed to Corgnilia up some steps, and arrived at a place with a beautiful back drop of Vernazza.

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After staying there and taking a gazillion pictures (and baking in the sun), we wanted to find the path that looked down on Vernazza from the other angle. Before we knew it, we were on a 2-hour hike to the next town, Monterroso (if you look closely at the picture above, there is a town nestled between the mountains, and that’s where we were heading). It was very tiring, especially since we were not in the right gear- I was in boots and my friend was in flats.

I was very happy

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My friend slowly began to smile

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Anyway, we got there 2 hours later- the hike wasn’t easy. There was a lot of step-climbing, steep downhill climbs, narrow paths where we had to paste our bodies to one side of the hill to avoid rolling down the cliff (there was no railing). I would totally do it again though, in the right clothing. Once we arrived, around 2pm, we went to a restaurant that our landlady recommended (L’Osteria) and immediately began to feast. Cinque Terre is apparently known for their pesto and seafood pasta, so that is exactly what we got. Plus half a liter of their house white wine, which tasted divine by the way- it was my water after that long hike.

This was only one side of Monterroso- there's a tunnel that you cross and it's even bigger there.
This was only one side of Monterroso- there’s a tunnel that you cross and it’s even bigger there.

We then roamed around Monterosso, returned to Vernazza by train, took a nap, and went back to the town for dinner. Dinner was amazing (we ate at Gambero Rosso)- we ordered the 5 different types of anchovies (another speciality in Cinque Terre), anchovies with potatoes and tomatoes, and the clams and mussels. We also had another half a liter of their house red wine, which tasted again, amazing.

This entire trip was about spontaneity, and I loved it. We decided the night before that on Day 2, we were going to see the leaning tower of Pisa. We went to the train station in the morning and asked for two tickets to Pisa- simple as that. It cost us 17 euros both ways for one person. Unfortunately it was pouring in the morning, but we spent most of it on the train.

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Once we got to Pisa, we were absolutely starving as we just spent 2 hours on a train and had no breakfast. We randomly walked around and found a restaurant. My friend ordered a seafood pasta (smart) while I ordered lasagna (stupid because it came cold and obviously they microwaved it). But we also got calamari to share which was yummers. We then walked another 20 minutes to the tower of Pisa (not easy- we had to ask directions), but once we turned a corner, it was right there in all her glory. A shit load of pictures later, it started to rain again and we slowly made our way back to Cinque Terre. We got off at the town Riomaggiore, had half a liter of white wine at the cliffs, and went into town for dinner- Dau Cila, which was rated number 1 on TripAdvisor. We got preeetty drunk that night as we had a bottle between two of us and we are lightweights, but we were each other’s best company so we had a great night.

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On day 3 we wanted to hit Riomaggiore, Monorola and Corgnilia. But while we were waiting for the train, we realized we hadn’t taken the boat yet. So we abandoned our 10-minute wait and headed to the pier. Of course we missed the first boat, just because luck is always on our side. The pier was hella crowded for the second boat (at around 12:10), and it was around a 20-minute ride to Riomaggiore. We arrived, found a place and had lunch (seafood risotto and pesto gnocchi with tiramisu as dessert). We decided to walk up and follow wherever the path took us, and boy did it take us to some beautiful places. Afterwards, we took the train to Monorola, which was the smallest town (and didn’t really have much to show). We went back to Vernazza 40 minutes later, took a nap, and went for dinner. We had the grilled catch of the day, stuffed mussels, and seafood pasta for two, as well as panna cotta for dessert.

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At least day 3 was sunny!

The next day we took the train back to Lausanne. Yeah this post was kind of rushed, but I’m currently on another juice fast and looking at all the pictures of food on my other blog is killing me so I’m trying to get away from WordPress as quick as possible. But all in all, Cinque Terre is a pretty expensive region because it is a touristy spot. So prepare to spend some grub but it will all be worth it!

Anyway, don’t forget to check out my other blog for all the pictures! The name is pretty lame but I needed something quick, so head on over to www.slapthepictures.wordpress.com for beautiful sceneries and amazing food!

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