Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Portofino & Cinque Terre

Hello! Sorry I did not write sooner, It has been a busy start to the week with classes, visitors and my weekend trip!

This weekend I went on an overnight trip through my school (in Florence) to Portofino and Cinque Terre and I do not have enough words to describe how BEAUTIFUL it was.  We started our trip early Saturday morning by taking a bus to Saint Margherita and spending about two hours walking through the small town and sitting on the large rocky beach.  Next was Camogli, another town on the coast that required us to take the most terrifying bus ride of my life.  The roads were so small and curvy that the next biggest vehicle to the bus was a smart car!  Here I had my first authentic Italian pizza (Salami) and got to try some of my friend Kayla's kalamari.  From Camogli we took a boat to Saint Fruttuso (my favorite of the day) which was a coast town of only 79 people tucked between two mountains (maybe bluffs/hills...not sure).  There was a look out point at the highest part of the town that used to be used to shoot off cannons at approaching pirate ships!  From this lookout there was a wonderful view of the town and its small beach area.  We ended our day in Portofino which is a very rich town and had some very upscale shops and huge yachts.  Our group leader/guide Stephano said that this place attracted some big names and people payed a lot of money to have homes here...of course I did not know any of the big names he said...I need to be more up to date on my European celebrities I guess!  We ended the night with dinner at the hotel back in Saint Margherita; it was five courses with wine included, but not the best Italian food I have had so far.

Day two of our trip was dedicated to the five cities that make up the Cinque Terre.  The bus dropped the group off at Moterosso first.  This town had the best beach, it was big, sandy, and very crowded.  We did not spend very much time in Moterosso, instead we started our hike to the next town.  It was about an hour and a half hike to Verhazza, but well worth it.  The trail took us through many vineyards that were built right into the hills and seemed to be kept up by the people living in the small shacks along side them.  Verhazza was definitely my favorite of the day because the town was a bit smaller than the rest but it also had access to the sea with tons of colorful fishermen boats docked there.  From here on there were only two other girls and me that continued to hike to the next town (a train was also available for us to take).  So Megan, Hannah and I headed to Corniglia, the next town and the only one that did not have direct access to the sea.  Manarola was the fourth town and we ended in Riomaggiore taking the "love trail" all the way there.  The love trail was a paved hike that was full of drawings on the walls and pad locks with couples names on them.  From Riomaggiore we caught the train to La Spezia and took the bus home.  It was a packed weekend that for sure could have been streached out over a couple more days!

Classes started for me on Monday and they seem good so far! I am especially looking forward to my Wine and Culture class tomorrow night.  Two of my friends from home (Betsy and Caitlin) were here today and yesterday so I got to show them around and play tour guide of a city that I now have officially referred to as "home." Today we went to the Galleria Dell Accademia and saw Michelangelo's David in real life! It was much bigger then I expected and really the pride and joy of the whole museum.

Well that's about all for now, I will hopefully be doing a biking trip this coming weekend that I am looking forward to!

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