Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Italy: Cinque Terre

After getting to sleep at 2am, the alarm went off at 6. The day for our Cinque Terre tour had arrived! I was groggy for a good half hour. We grabbed some breakfast from the B&B and asked them to call us a taxi which arrived before we could make it downstairs. "To the train station." Three minutes later, we arrived, having been made aware just how close we were to the station.

Bleary eyed but looking forward to a long day with amazing sights, our tour group gathered together and were lead by Amadeus to the bus.  

Amadeus had a great style of delivery when giving directions or telling us the history of a location. He would state things simply and if he needed your attention he would say, "Listen to me" in his Italian/Spanish accent. We had some Spanish speaking tour mates, so Amadeus would say everything in English first and then Spanish (which made me feel like I was back in California). But when he would talk to the driver or the other tour guides with us (there were three of them), he would speak in a beautiful Italian. Honestly, I'd never heard Italian conversations before. Only a word here or there. I was entranced, enamoured with the language. The words felt like a surprise gooey chocolate center of a magnificent souffle. I wanted to eat the words that fell from their tongues. Of all the languages and accents I have ever heard, Italian is the one I would choose to hear for all eternity (if I had to pick just one). 

Our bus ride to Cinque Terre (pronounced Chinkwa Terra) took 2 hours. Cinque Terre means 5 Lands. There are five little villages with resident populations between 120 to 1,000 people. We visited three of them. Pictures can't do justice to how beautiful the area is.

We took a train between the towns and were warned to wear our backpacks and purses in front of us. That pick pockets are professional and will be unrecognisable. Amadeus said that that they could look like anyone, even a Priest. 

I would see cats occasionally in the streets. Because the villages were so small, the cats had no real threats and would confidently meander through the streets, occasionally being fed by a shop owner or tourist.

Off a narrow street, we found a tunnel/cave that lead to a beach. 

The waves here were intense and unpredictable. I kept my wary distance from the water. Back to the main street and at the end...this.


We found a beach on The Mediterranean. I skipped stones.

And after the tour, on the bus, I took a picture of the side of great big hills. That's not snow you see. It's white marble. There were huge slabs of it in businesses next to the highway.

The tour itself was great. Mostly a slow pace. There really wasn't a lot of walking, but there were a number of complainers. Mostly Americans. I won't say that all American travellers are obnoxious, but when you're in a group and someone stands out in a bad way, it's usually (always) and American. And for this I am embarrassed and upset. They complain loudly about small things, as if everything should be catered to them. They don't realise that sometimes you have to walk up a hill. You did come to a town built on a hill...what were you expecting. I did my best not to let it get to me, and did have friendly conversations with the worst of them, but when we were seated for lunch I told the tour guide to sit me with anyone but the Americans. She laughed knowingly and we sat with two French people our own age. It was a lovely lunch of pasta, fish and lemon flavored ice cream.

After the tour, back in Florence at nearly 8pm, Kate and I decided to have dinner and not hold back. We stopped at Ciro & Sons Ristorante. I ordered tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella to share, a 1/2 bottle of Bolgheri wine (mostly for Kate - though I did try some), spaghetti with lobster (tail and claw), chocolate souffle with hazelnut gelato and an espresso. And then I rolled back to the hotel where I immediately fell into a deep and restful sleep.

Another great day in Florence.