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Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

The Cinque Terre

Monday, October 15th, 2007

After Pisa, we CouchSurfed with Ernesto in La Spezia before we entered the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre (literally the five lands) consists of five coastal villages along the Mediterranean and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With Ernesto’s help, we planned a five hour visit of the Cinque Terre combining trains and hiking. John and I started in Riomaggiore, and to make a long story short, trains were delayed, hiking trails were closed, and we were soon “stuck” for two hours in the second smallest village of Manarola.

I’m sad to say we had become “checklist” travelers – we were focussed on getting out of Manarola and continuing down the Cinque Terre in order to see as much as possible in our five hours. Once we realized this, we were finally able to open our eyes and see the amazing scenery surrounding us. A valuable lesson learned, the two hours we spent hiking around Manarola were some of the best spent in the Cinque Terre.

After Manarola, we visited Vernazza and Monterosso before it was time to master public transportation.

The sky begins to clear.

The way is closed; our plans change as we become “stuck” in Manarola.

Facades in Manarola.

Vernazza from the hiking trail.

Monterosso during the off-season.

Pisa

Friday, October 12th, 2007

The next stop in our journey was the Piazza Dei Miracoli in Pisa to pose with the Leaning Tower. We arrived just as it was getting dark, and coupled with the rain, we found ourselves in a deserted plaza gazing on “one the world’s greatest cock-ups,” as Lonely Planet so affectionately refers to the tower.

Obligatory tourist photos in hand, it was time to run to catch our train to the Cinque Terre!

John pushing the Leaning Tower…

…and me holding it up.

Florence

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

There’s quite a bit to see in Florence, so in an attempt to maximize the experiences/time ratio, our day there was spent walking around the city guided by Lonely Planet, climbing the dome of the Duomo cathedral, and eating lots of food (steak, buffalo milk mozzarella, tortellini with rabbit, and gellato).

Unfortunately, it was also one of the five days a year it rains. And when it rains, it poors – luckily for us the streets were flooded with street vendors selling umbrellas for the bargain price of €3.

Florence from the dome of the Duomo.

According to legend, if you rub the porker’s snout and drop a coin in the fountain, you’re going to return to Florence.  Here’s to hoping that’s true!

The best Bistecca alla Fiorentina (T-bone steak) that I’ve ever had.

The Ponte Veccio (old bridge) in Florence.

Rome

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Given the breakneck pace of our trip, I only had one day to see Rome (John had already been there for two days). Utilizing Metro Lines A and B, we managed to see the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. Not bad for about 7 hours, but I definitely want to come back someday to see it again.

The Hall of Maps in the Vatican Museum.

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

The view of the Roman Forum from Palatine Hill.

Inside the Colosseum - the floor has been partially reconstructed.

The Colosseum.

Metro B on the way back to Roma Termini.

Italy

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

With no other means of communication, John and I arranged to meet by the spire of the Pantheon in Rome at 6:00pm on September 25th. I arrived an hour late because of transportation to find John walking around the spire looking for me amongst the crowd. Not wanting to mess up an opportunity for the perfect surprise, I tapped him on the shoulder saying, “Wow, that sure is somthing – that’s been there for over 2000 years!” The Eurotrip had officially begun!

Our journey through Italy would last 3 days, with stops in Rome, Florence, Pisa, La Spezia, the Cinque Terre, and the Milan train station.

The photos below are from the flight to Rome and my first night there.

Flying Ryanair near Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

The 2000 year old Pantheon and its spire.

Inside the Pantheon.

Me drinking from the fountain in the Piazza di Spagna.

John on the steps of the Piazza di Spagna.