Destinations, Europe, Italy, Switzerland

Feeling Fancy in the Italian Riviera

June 6-8, 2013

We had arrived in Levanto, on the Italian Riviera, early in the morning, and we found our cute, little hostel.  Levanto is the train stop right before Cinque Terre starts in Monterosso. It was the cheapest place to stay at and only one stop over from the main area so it seemed to make sense.

It was a gorgeous day, and we ate an amazing lunch at a little Italian cafe on the coast of Levanto. After lunch, we went to Levanto’s main beach and just enjoyed the beautiful weather.  We spent the entire afternoon laying out and relaxing. Later that night, we went into Monterosso, where we stumbled into a beach bar right outside the train station. They had sangria buckets (literally, buckets) for 10 euro. We roamed around the city of Monterosso, buckets in hand, and climbed up to the top of the mountain for a beautiful sunset view. It was the most spectacular view I’ve ever seen.

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After our climb, we decided on a restaurant for dinner overlooking the coast and the sunset. I had an incredible ravioli dish for dinner and we split a bottle of Italian white wine. Kayla, Mallory, Evan and I all had a really great, engaging conversation, and we all agreed that we were so blessed to be there at that moment with each other. Corny, I know.

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We hopped on a train back to Levanto, and we made a friend, Matt, on the walk back to our hostel. He was from Canada, traveling independently across Europe.  We had a few extra spots left on our private boat tour the next day, so we invited him to come along with us. The more, the merrier… and the more, the cheaper…

The next day, we woke up early ready for our glorious day out at sea with our private boat tour with Stefano. Stefano was this older, Monterosso native, who knew everything there is to know about Cinque Terre. I invited one more guy from our hostel to come along with us so we had the full 6 people. Mark was from Australia, living in London, traveling alone as well. The stories we heard from Mark and Matt were incredible. We had Stefano for 3 hours, and he bought us bread and wine for the trip.

The first stop on the trip was to go cliff jumping right off Monterosso.  The water was freezing, but I was all hyped up on adrenaline from jumping off the highest cliff that I didn’t mind the water. Then, we went to Vernazza and learned about the history of Cinque Terre. We also were “lucky” enough to stop at the famous nudist beach in Vernazza, where most beach-goers were male and over the age of 65… We sailed over to Corniglia, Manarola and finally Riomaggiore. We took a lot of pictures at Riomaggiore because this is the famous view that we had always seen on Pinterest.

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On the way back, everyone was getting along, having a great time, laughing, dancing, loving life.  We stopped at a cave, and we got to swim through it. And lastly, we stopped at a waterfall, hung out there, took a few spills and met a few locals. It was by far the most wonderful day I’ve ever experienced. And it didn’t stop there. After the boat, Matt and I decided to hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. It took about an hour, and it paid off big time. We saw some spectacular views and ended the hike cooling off in the ocean. Later, we all met up in Riomaggiore, grabbed pizza and watched the sunset from there. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. The only downfall was that we had a train leaving at 1 am…. with a 2 hour layover in Sestre Levante from 2-4 am… and then finally making it to Venice. It was a long, LONG morning. But we made it there alive with perfect weather. Weather is key to everything if you haven’t noticed.

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We only had a few hours in Venice to explore, and we sure did make the most of it. We hopped on a water taxi, went straight to San Marco Square, looked at the beautiful basilica, and found the perfect gondola ride with Mario. Mario’s family had been in the gondola business for hundreds of years, and he had been riding gondolas for 40 years. After that, we bought lunch and gelato, and at the very very VERY last second, just made our train back to Switzerland. I mean, JUST MADE IT… The train was moving and everything. For someone who hates to be late to anything ever, that was the closest I had ever been to full blown heart attack.

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Nevertheless, Evan and I made the train, got ready to go out on the train, made it to Leysin, and went straight to the Top Pub to meet our friends, with my backpack and all. It was a truly great night.

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