Yes. I've been to Paradise.

Think of a postcard or a desktop background of a beach or some type of paradise – I was just there.  I’m not even kidding you when I say that.  The Cinque Terre in Italy is one of, if not the most beautiful place in the entire world.  It is on the west coast of Italy, and composed of five little villages that are connected by trains and hiking paths.  We stayed in the first city – Monterosso – in a four star hotel that is on the edge of a cliff looking out to the ocean.  So beautiful.

We got there on Thursday night at around 9PM, so it was already dark by the time we got there.  But included in our room was free transportation to and from the train station, so that was pretty nice.  We got to the hotel and although it was pitch black, we could still hear the ocean and were SO happy and excited to see it!  We got some food at the hotel then headed up to our room so we could wake up and get out around the town.

When we woke up and headed out, the view was absolutely incredible.  I knew it was going to be pretty but I really did not know it was going to be this amazing.  You are literally staring out into the ocean with cliffs jetting out .. which you are on one of those cliffs too.  We walked down into Monterosso and looked around the place for a bit.  We thought it was going to rain later, so we wanted to start hiking early.  We got on a train to the last city, Riomaggiore, where we were going to start.  Riomaggiore was so cute! We walked around for a bit then got on the trail which was full of love locks and amazing views.  We walked through the gorgeous path that was paved out, to Manarola, the next village.  This was one of my favorite villages.  We walked around and went into the shops, then got some deeeeelicious gelato!  It was so so so so good .. and cheap!  The gelato here is less than 2 euros, which is so amazing but pretty dangerous seeing how much we love it.  After eating, we went up on a little trail where you can see the entire village of Manarola from a cliff.  Absolutely. Gorgeous.  I can’t even say enough words to describe this place; it is beautiful.
Our hotel up in the mountain!
Monterosso!
Riomaggiore!
Manarola!
All hail Italy

 We found out the trails to the next two cities, Corniglia and Vernazza, were closed, so we had to take a train.  There wasn’t much in Corniglia, so we skipped it and went to Vernazza.  This is the village that most pictures are shown if you google “Cinque Terre.”  It was so pretty and so amazing to be there, but there was a flood throughout this place in October 2011, and Vernazza (along with Monterosso) was hit the worst.  There was some construction going on on the beach, and some of the buildings looked so run down and beat from the flood.  It was so sad to see, but for only 5-6 months passing, they are doing pretty great.  Everything was open for the most part and the place was buzzing with tourists.  We got some pizza at a cute restaurant where we ate outside right by the ocean.  For my first pizza in Italy, it was amazing!

After the pizza, we had to get some more gelato, and it was even better this time.  We were able to hike from this village to the next one, which was the last one and the one we were staying at, Monterosso.

Pizza .. by the ocean .. in Italy .. no big deal?
Vernazza!

Saying we weren’t prepared for this hike is a complete understatement.  For one thing, I didn’t have any shoes, so I was hiking in flats.  But we just did not think about hiking and packing things that we needed .. but did alright with what we had.  

The hike took about two hours to complete, and it was along the cliffs with way too many stairs to climb.  Once we got through climbing the stairs, they just made us walk down a hundred more just to reclimb a million again.  It was crazy.  But the views throughout this hike were incredible, so it was completely worth it.  Not to mention when we were a little over halfway done with the hike, we were greeted by an old Italian man who sells lemonade along the trail.  We bought some and took a little break (we took a lot of ‘little breaks’).  

After this, we thought we were almost done, but we still had about 30 more minutes.  The path took us straight to our hotel though so it was pretty nice.  And with how unreal this place is, I would recommend anyone and everyone do those hikes – you won’t see the entire place if you don’t.  It is SO worth it.



After we got home, we went up to the room to rest for a little but but headed out for some dinner.  Of course I ate pizza again, and Heather got some ravioli.  So. Good.  Before we headed up we decided why not, and got some gelato for dessert.  It’s too good in Italy – how can you control yourself and not stuff your faces with Italian food and gelato?  It’s impossible.

Today we woke up and walked around Monterosso for some souvenirs and things.  I got this amazing paining/thing that hangs on your wall that was made by a local who owns a little shop.  I HAD to get it.  While we were buying it, he showed us a little video he made of the floods, so we were able to see what where we were walking around looked like at the time.  It was heartbreaking to watch but made me so happy to see how fast they were able to reconstruct their town together.  There is still a lot of work to do, but they are doing really great for such a short time passing.

Now we are currently sitting in a train station in La Spezia, about to head down to Rome.  Ready to do some shopping, eating, and touring!  The train is four hours and I’m pretty tired so I’m excited to sleep a bit too.  After Rome, we head to Naples, then it’s back to London before Scotland with ISA.  I can’t believe we’ve already been to three places on this trip we’ve planned since February.  It’s going by SO fast.  And when I get back to London after this, I have three more weeks left.  What?  Where did the past four months go?  I really don’t get it and am having a really hard time coming to terms with it … soooo I think I’m just going to stay.

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