We enjoyed our visit to Florence. Although brief, our three days were packed with sightseeing and culture, lots of culture. At times it seemed as if there were too many treasures to take in. Our next destination is Cinque Terre (five lands), encompassing five picturesque villages along the Mediterranean. Once we left the Florence apartment, we walked along Via Panzani with our luggage and backpacks and were soon joined by many other travelers making the half mile trek to the Florence train station. Upon arrival to the train station every few minutes there were announcements to beware of pickpockets, however there appeared to be no policia to dissuade the thieves.
Once we exited the train in Manarola (the village within Cinque Terre), we followed the tourists through a tunnel and up many flights of stairs and ramps. One tourist asked if she could hire a Sherpa to carry her luggage up the hill. As we entered the center of the village, a lovely young woman approached us and said “Nancie?” We were elated to have found our destination. By the grace of God, Francesca carried my heavy suitcase up the fifty-four stairs to our new flat. That was quite the workout, it is no wonder that all of the women in this village have killer legs, no need for stair masters here. We have gorgeous views of the town, and except for the construction next door, we would have a sea view as well. We decided upon Cinque Terre, because it is simply beautiful. Around the village we see spectacular views of the colorful homes clinging to the mountainside, at the edge of the sea. Time for rest and relaxation.
By about five o’clock many of the day-trippers and excursionists have left the village. Although some shops shutter their doors awaiting the next rush of tourists, many stay open and offer simple fresh seafood and pasta. We explored the village, found a great place for an aperitivo and took tons of pictures. We shopped at Terre 5 Coop for beer, wine and groceries a few times, so I was upset when the door was closed in my face and I was told “we are closed now”. I completely understand the importance of a siesta, I embrace the siesta. However when the door was reopened for the local man behind me, I felt a bit put off. Following siesta time we again visited the market to buy some more supplies and get some bananas for breakfast. When Greg picked up a couple of bananas, the woman behind the register began complaining loudly about “Americanos”. We know we are tourists, guest really in another country, so we approach everyone with pleasantries, buongiorno, grazie, Etc. Next we were then told “no credit cards”, even though we used credit for the previous two days. I am now boycotting that store for the next few days, but I don’t think they will notice.
We sleep like we have never known sleep here. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore and our complete exhaustion is enough to ensure a sound sleep. Both of us were anxious to do some hiking here in Manarola. We ventured to another village for an early morning cappuccino and then onto another small town for a much needed lunch and vino. This seven mile hike was spectacular. My Fitbit tracked one hundred forty flights of stairs and 18,000 steps. These hikes are unlike any we do in Arizona. The climb is straight up, and we hike through wine vineyards, olive groves, forests, all along narrow mountain trails. I do not like edges! While hiking, I avert my eyes at the edge of trail, with the perilous drop off into the sea below. Greg enjoys all of the journey. He is unafraid of edges and is not clinging on to grapevines like me. He walks behind me with the GoPro. He claims that he’s there to catch me since I am about as surefooted as a three legged jackass. However, I’m pretty sure he just wants to document my untimely passing for the insurance company.