Italy, Pt 1

After a loooooong grueling day of traveling, we arrived to Pisa on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. (at that point, we had left on Monday at 5 p.m. Chicago time and barely had any sleep).  We rented a car as fast as we could, navigated our way into Pisa and kind of tried to follow the confusing signs as well as the large groups of tourists we spotted.  We made our way to the Tower to take this picture as well as many others (I know it's not that creative and he didn't exactly want to copy the rest of the tourists doing the same thing but he humored me).  But that's all we did in Pisa.  There just wasn't enough to keep us there.

Next, we drove on to Liguria so we could check into our honeymoon suite at this Monastery in a little town called Moneglia.  After getting stuck in a bad traffic jam and waiting on a green light into a chain of one-way tunnels (the light turns green once every 20 minutes) we finally arrived and boy was the owner happy to see us...finally.

We didn't seem to snap any pictures inside our room but it was pretty amazing.  We had a four-poster bed, a spacious bathroom and gigantic windows that you could crank open and take giant breaths of fresh Ligurian air.  We enjoyed a gnocchi and pesto dinner with some fried calamari and Cinque Terre wine and then headed back for an actual nights rest.  We slept forever.

Our first full day in Liguria was spent hiking.  It was so beautiful and there was so much to see that we felt overwhelmed.  We took the train to the Cinque Terre and got off at Riomaggiore.  What a delightful town!

We stopped in a market store and bought some very delicious tomatoes (so sweet, they were perfect), some fresh mozzarella and some focaccia and enjoyed our delicious but simple (not to mention cheap) lunch perched right here, just gazing at the sparkling azure sea. 

Next we decided to hike up to this nature observation point, which turned out to be a pretty ideal hike for us.  It was an uphill climb the entire way but was well worth it.  We got to see views like this the whole time:

We just kind of weaved through the cliffs for a few hours, met some nice people along the way and saw the town from a pretty amazing perspective.  Once we made it to the top, we had to wind our way back down through the town which turned out to be pretty awesome as well.  We passed by this beautiful cemetery and were naturally very curious.  So we decided to take a stroll through it and pay our respects.

Every last one of the 'headstones' or whatever they should be called here, had beautiful pictures of the person and there were flowers for everyone, even if they were fake.  It was a touching place and we both were completely enamored by it.

We decided to make our way to the next village of choice, Vernazza.  After getting on an express train from Riomaggiore to Monterosso Al Mare (oops, but it was here where I got my first taste of Caffe Gelato and there was no stopping me after that) we finally made it and we were so happy we did.  This little village was completely quintessential Italy to us.  There were children shouting up at their mom who was hanging out of the shuttered-window up above.  There were cats wandering the alleyways as the bell tower struck the hour.  There were young boys playing futbol and every direction you turned there were patrons feasting on pasta and sipping Limoncello and the likes.  We ended our night here.  We perched ourselves on some rocks and gazed out at the setting sun over the sea.  It was so romantic and the perfect way to end our perfect day.

We even had our best meal here.  I can't remember the name of the restaurant but it was amazing.  We sat outside, our waiter was a real charmer who joked with us and teased me for my pronunciation of 'the check' (il conto, pronounced cohn-to not con-to).  I had a quattro-formaggi pizza which was hands-down my favorite pizza of all time.  It was creamy and runny and downright delicious.  And as we were dining, a dog and a cat accidentally met and the dog proceeded to chase the cat right into the restaurant! Our waiter had to shoo them out of there and everyone was laughing.  It was such a charming experience.

And this was just the first full day!  We were as happy as clams.

To be continued....


Anonymous,  September 20, 2010 at 1:31 PM  

Cinque terre is propbably my favorite place on earth. My grandparents home was in Lerici until a few years ago, I've spent every week end until I was 25 in Liguria.
Quattro formaggi is really the best pizza. I shouldn't say that because I'm a (almost) a vegan, but it's true!!

Ren- Lady Of The Arts September 20, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

Beautiful photos and the descriptions of food are making me SO hungry!

Mo Pie, Please September 20, 2010 at 5:12 PM  

I can't get over how great the food was. We seriously only had one bad dining experience - and it was bad. And with all the walking we did I think I counteracted the food intake!

Anonymous,  September 20, 2010 at 7:58 PM  

Yeah, I wasn't going to say much beforehand so as not to burst your bubble, but Pisa is a bit of a bore - I can see why you left quickly!

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