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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Escape to Italy - Part 2

After two wonderful nights in Venice, it was time to pack our bags and head south.  After oversleeping and literally running to the terminal, we were own our way! Next stop...Cinque Terre. 

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For those of you who are not familiar with this region, Cinque Terra is made up of five cliff hugging villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.  These tiny towns were isolated from the outside world until one hundred years ago, when the railway line was built. Each village is uniquely different, but it is the steep slopes that are cultivated with vines that tie these towns together.  Although we spent time in all five towns, we decided to reside in Vernazza and Riomaggiore.

First stop, Vernazza........
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This 500 resident fishing town, dates back to around 1000 A.D. when it was founded as a fortification against unwanted visitors. It wasn't until the mid-1500's, that the residents build Belforte, a medieval watchtower to protect the village from Pirate attacks.

Vernazza is considered the "jewel" of Cinque Terre.  There is no modern technology and the village is only accessible by train and occasional car (which is usually carrying local produce to sale to the residents).  The residents own fishing boats instead of cars and sit in the square chatting on lovely afternoons. 
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When we arrived, we didn't have a place to stay.  However, it is common for the locals to rent rooms to visitors upon arrival.  I don't do well when it comes to hotels and "flying by the seat of my pants". BUT  within 10 minutes of our arrival, we found an elderly Italian man (that didn't speak a LICK of English but understood about 10 Spanish words) that had us following him through town. 

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After climbing and climbing some more, we found our apartment. Apartment 35! When he unlocked the door, I was very excited to find a clean living space.  Granted it was approximately 400 square feet and Jacob could not stand up straight in the bedroom, but it was CLEAN and had a cute kitchen.  I was feeling pretty good about the situation.....when Mr. Italy pulled out a letter written in English that said "If the police ask you were you are staying do not tell them my name.  Tell them you are just passing through town." Yep, it is quite possible we stayed in a convicted felons apartment......

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Our apartments yard art.......

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Over the next two days,.........

we ate the most amazing pizza, pasta, pastries, and blood orange juice (um yes red oranges?!?!?).....

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 and hiked to the edge of town (all up hill I might add).....

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(his non verbal communication that tells me he is done taking pictures)

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(notice the road barrier outside of town prohibiting cars from entering)

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We hiked the cliffs above the town.....

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and climbed the 100 steep alleyway stairs to the watchtower.  What a view!
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After two great nights in Vernazza, we headed to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre for the remainder of our stay.

More pictures to come....stay tuned!

3 Comments:

Mom

What a great way to see Italy - by foot no less. You did a really good job of capturing the true feel of the area.

Wiz

These pictures are amazing! And you know I love the yard art, haha :)

Tiffany

Keep 'em coming! I'm loving seeing the pics and all your descriptions!