Even though the day was grey and overcast, we clung on to every glimpse of the rocky blue ocean through the windows of the tunnel as our train plummeted up Italy’s west coast. The journey from the white mountains of Carrara to Cinque Terre’s cliffside town of Monterosso was long and a little unpleasant (three trains and NO LUNCH that day), but it wasn’t over yet!
Our travel plans for the weekend had been rushed. Jenna had found a hotel for the four of us for a decent price. But if our Monterosso experience taught us anything, it was to double check the venue’s location before you book!
Monterosso Under a Cloudy Sky (6.24.17)
We were lucky—Green Quiet, our hotel, included a complimentary shuttle service from the beach to the hotel (I guess this should’ve tipped us off that our venue was a million miles away). As soon as we hopped into our shuttle, our driver began the long and arduous trek up the mountain, and we all realized that we were in for a ride. It felt never-ending; we kept winding higher and higher and around some really sharp, blind corners. And after every turn, Jenna would nervously reassure us that our hotel was coming up soon—she was sure of it. In actuality, it was about a 20 minute journey into the absolute middle of nowhere! But hey, I’m not complaining. The views from the car were totally magnificent: lush, green forests blanketing the mountainsides, and the stormy blue seaside drifting in and out of view! But I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should probably think twice before you book a hotel as high up as we were. By all means, do it! It’s lovely! But don’t be surprised when you wake up in a literal cloud!
The full day that we had after our arrival began with a sense of failure–the air was chilled and wet, clouds hung low amongst the mountains (even more ominously than around our hotel–again, Jenna’s doing), and it began sprinkling while we shopped around the eastern half of Monterosso. The sun was nowhere to be found, and it appeared that we had traveled to Cinque Terre hoping to enjoy a beach for the first time in a very long time, only to stay for the one day that the weather was inclimate. My heart sunk as I watched the waves curling over the rocks. The water was not the bright, clear blue that it might be with sunlight, but instead reflected the gray of the sky. We reluctantly paid a small fortune for a beach lounge–two chairs and one umbrella to be split between the four of us–and stumbled, cringing, over the infinite rocks and pebbles (guess who kept nervously reassuring us that the beach would be sand) toward our small patch of shore. Collecting rocks became our pastime between playing cards and easing into the crisp water, the sun still not peeking from behind the clouds as the afternoon ticked by. Finally, once we all began to settle horizontally and drift asleep from the exhaustion of our travels, the sun broke through the clouds. At 4pm. For about an hour. The fun started after this, though, as Jenna has detailed!
The beach we chose to stay on was filled with lounging chairs and orange striped green umbrellas. Every step I took barefoot was full of pain, as the pebbles dug into the soles of my feet (I’m such a wimp). After taking a short dip in the water and napping for quite some time, I decided to climb up the small cliff nearby with Liz. Oh, how terrible the journey was. The texture and rigidness of the rock was even worse than what was experienced on the flat ground. Every step we took was accompanied by “ouches” and whining. However, the view from up above was totally worth it. We could see even farther out into the sea and watch all the people hanging out on the beach below. Once we spotted Machaela, we proceeded to yell out her name and waved our arms at her in a wild manner (how brutta figura).
The rest of the day was very enjoyable, as we took our time strolling around the town and grabbing a bite to eat. In our last trip back on the shuttle from the beach to our hotel, I felt a sense of awe and wonderment as I gazed out into the forest surrounding us and the beach down below. Whether or not some of us (Celeste and Liz) found the hotel location to be sketchy, the seclusion and isolation it provided allowed the perfect opportunity for one to take a breather, something everyone deserves once in a while.
My favorite part of visiting Monterosso was Saturday! I hiked up the long Cinque Terre trails, then about four in the afternoon I met up with the rest of the crew at the dazzling blue Mediterranean beach! The trails were beautiful. I hiked up the upper trail for the first three towns, and then the lower trails to finish up at Riomaggiore! T’was quite an adventure! I met a lot of international travelers who were from places other than America, almost ran into a wild boar (oops) but most importantly saw beautiful beautiful trails! If you are looking to hike the Cinque Terre trails, the lower route is the more popular (more difficult?) option, however you get a view of the ocean and the picturesque seaside towns!
After walking from Monterosso to Riomaggiore (not for the faint of heart!), which took about six hours, I took the train back to Monterosso and met up with Celeste, Liz, and Jenna at the beach! It was so fun and the water felt amazing!! We took Rick Steves up on his restaurant suggestions and ended up at an incredible seafood place in Monterosso! We finished with a touch of fabulous gelato and a winding cab ride up to the top where our hotel was! All in all, a very fun day! I loved it!!! Woohoo!!
Mac OUT *drops mic* *breakdances* *dramatically exits stage through underground passageway* BOOM