At some point before we left Florida, Lauren (one of my best friends from college) let me know that she and her husband Melvin were going to Italy this fall. She asked if we wanted to meet up with them and I enthusiastically said yes! Brennan and I did nearly no planning on this trip-Melvin and Lauren really let us tag along on their Italian vacation and it was amazing. We spent 5 days together in Cinque Terre (on the Western Coast) and in Florence. Italy is one of my favorite places and none of us had been to any of these cities, so it worked out great to explore them together!
Cinque Terre is the name of the group of five (cinque) cities (terre) along the coast. We stayed in La Spezia, just outside of these cities, but were able to visit 4 of the 5 towns throughout the day. Melvin woke up early and got us train tickets. The train allows you to ride between the cities throughout the day, as well as access any hiking trails. We left our Airbnb with coffee and headed to the train!
We visited Monterosso first. This town had a large beach, beautiful blue water, and a lot of people walking around. Other than taking pictures, we didn't do anything here. However, the scenery was amazing and made it a great first stop!
Brennan wanted to hike between Monterosso and Vernazza, and this was the shortest walk that was open that day. We walked up the cliffs, through the greenery, and down the path for about 2 miles. It doesn't sound very long, but the changes in elevation made it a somewhat challenging hike for me. The view was amazing the whole time and we were able to talk as we walked, so that made it worth it.
We made it to Vernazza! Looking down at the bay as we walked into town was picturesque. The colorful buildings are as beautiful in real life as they are in pictures. We grabbed some flatbread pizza lunch from a shop and went to sit by the waterside. It was a great reward after our hike!
Our next stop was Riomaggiore. We skipped over Manarola because we wanted to go there for dinner. As we walked out of the train, Lauren had a bird poop on her! Thankfully, she came prepared and had tissues and hand sanitizer to clean up before we continued walking.We saw a little bit of the town, stopped for gelato, and headed out near the water.
We got in late the night before and got moving early in the morning, so by this point, we were tired. We found an area near the water that had large rocks and found a spot to sit. I think Brennan fell asleep at one point! After we had sat for awhile, some people started climbing on rocks across the water from where we were sitting and cliff jumping. It was fun to watch them and just enjoy the Italian sunshine.
Our last stop for the day was Manarola. Melvin had done research before the trip and found a place for us to see the sunset while we got drinks and appetizers. We had to wait a bit before we were able to be seated, so we took pictures and walked along the path near the edge of the cliff. After seeing so many pictures of this part of the world, it felt surreal to see it in real life!
As we were standing and waiting, Melvin realized his phone background was a photo of the town we were in!
We had great drinks and snacks at the restaurant near the cliffs, but weren't able to see the sunset because of the clouds. We realized it was probably going to start raining soon and finished up. As we were getting ready to go, a flash of lightning hit at the edge of the cliff! I have never been that close to a lightning strike. After that, the skies opened up and began pouring rain. We were soaked completely through before we made it back into the town. By the time we got back to the Airbnb, we were ready to get to bed and rest before our adventure the next day.
On Monday morning, we left La Spezia and headed to Florence. On the way, we realized we would be passing through Pisa. Because of the train timing and when we could get in our Airbnb in Florence, we decided to make a short stop in Pisa to see the famous tower!
It really is leaning! What surprised me most about this area was how beautiful the other buildings around the tower were. There is a cathedral and baptistry and both have very ornate carvings. We didn't take the time to go in because we had all of our luggage and wanted to make it back to the train, but I would go back to Pisa for a day trip. It was a great unexpected bonus on our trip!
Melvin and Lauren are such good friends and I'm glad they let us join in on their vacation. Brennan and I were both feeling a little burnt out on planning and figuring out details before arriving, so it was awesome to meet up with them and go along with their plan. We haven't all been able to spend much time together in the last couple of years, so it was special to get to catch up and see Italy at the same time.
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.