For our first day in Florence, Amy and I decided to do a day trip to Pisa and Cinque Terre instead of exploring the city itself. We woke up bright and early and left our airbnb apartment at 7:30am.
We took the train to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. My impression of the tower: it’s actually quite a bit more lean-y than I thought it would be! The base is seriously crooked, although it gets more vertical towards the top (if it didn’t the building would have fallen over by now!). The tower leans because of the unstable soil it was built on, and it started leaning during construction. It is actually slightly curved from attempts to straighten it.
The town of Pisa is quite adorable as well, though of course, littered with tourists.
We got back on the train and headed to La Spezia, where we made a second transfer to the villages of Cinque Terre.
“Cinque Terre” refers to five villages – Riomgagiore, Manorola, Coniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso – that sit on the coast of Italy. A charming and supposedly quiet destination that was recently “discovered” by tourists (thanks to Rick Steves), I knew that when I went to Italy I would want to pay this place a visit to get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. The five villages are close enough that you can hike from town to town, although if you were to visit all five villages, it would take around five hours. Amy and I decided to just pick a few places we wanted to visit and try not to feel too rushed.
Our first stop was Vernazza, a truly adorable village. It basically consists on one street, lined on either sides with colorful buildings with laundry gently blowing in the breeze from the windows, and flags hanging above the street. There is a little harbor where some people were swimming. We had lunch there – I had mussels by the sea. Yum!
After that, we took the train to Corniglia and walked a mile in complete darkness (no joke) through an abandoned tunnel to get to Guvano Beach. Guvano Beach is a beautiful secluded beach, but let’s just say to go through such trouble to get to such a place… the people there are… well, the beach is… how you say… “clothing optional”… oh bother, there’s no skirting around the issue. It’s a nude beach. Okay? There I said it, we went to a nude beach. Don’t judge us! We saw some disturbing…. Urk, never mind, forget I said anything. Let’s not focus on the people and focus on the beach itself. It was a pebble beach and I have sensitive feet that complain loudly when I step on anything that isn’t smooth, but once we were in the water nothing else mattered but relaxing in the deep blue sea!
Our final stop was Monterosso, the biggest of the five towns. By the time we got there, it was getting late and we had no time to visit its beaches, many of which are private (aka you have to pay). We had dinner and Amy and I tried a local dish, Trofie al pesto, which is a kind of weird squiggly looking pasta with pesto. I love pesto! But the squiggly pasta was kind of weird.
After our long day, we took the train home… but the train service doesn’t run as frequently at night and we had to wait almost an hour at each station we transferred at (La Spezia and Pisa). In fact, the last leg of our trip, Pisa Centrale to Florence SMN, was not even a train. It was a bus. But it appeared on the train’s departure boards as if it were a train, but instead of the platform number, the board said “Piaz”, which I took to mean “piazza”, but that made no sense… there are no trains running through the piazza. At that point we ran into some other people going to the same destination and we realized that it was a bus, which came by at the scheduled time and took us to Florence. I am so confused.