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September 19-21

Cinque Terre

It was so pretty, but jeans were definitely not the right choice for the weather!
I loved these terracotta tiles with Cinque Terre towns!

September 19:

The bus driver dropped us off in Levanto. A quick train ride later we stepped out at the seaside at Monterosso al Mere, our home base in Cinque Terre. How's that for a change in atmosphere. After dropping the bags at the hotel, we took the opportunity to take a dip in the Ligurian Sea. My first time swimming in the Mediterranean!

Mom's excited about the sea!
And this is when I went for a swim and sacrificed my sunglasses for good weather on the hike tomorrow (or you know forgot that they were on my face)

The hotel had an amazing rooftop garden. Colleen set up a great happy hour to celebrate Andrew's (one of the tour members) birthday!

The parish church. The stripes are from the Pisa style. So striking!

This oratory was focused on the burial of the less fortunate, hence the focus on skeleton motifs!

We finished out the day with a pesto making class for the whole tour group at Hotel Pasquale. This is yet another thing I don't think I would have scheduled if planning myself but it was so interesting and informative! Pesto was invented in this part of Italy, so we were learning from the best. Felicita and her granddaughter on the mortar and pestle, taught us all the secrets, including that the flavor changes when you grind it by hand. We went home with the recipe. The class was followed by an amazing dinner of pesto pasta, one of the best so far!

The pesto was ground by hand 

September 20:

So I admit it, Cinque Terre was the part of the trip I had planned the least for. One of the main draws to the area is hiking the Sentiero Azzurro, or the Blue Trail in English. The hiking trail winds along the coast and connects the five villages of Cinque Terre. I knew Tim would not be into doing the hike because of his feet, and though Mom would have loved to go, she had injured her ankle a month before the trip. Fortunately, we were on a group tour. Andrew and Patty had actually done their research and graciously allowed me, my travel buddy Elio, Karen and Rick, and Art to tag along on their hike. A win, win for everyone! Tim got to sleep in. Mom and Elio's wife Diana got to hang at the beach. And I got to hike!

No meal is complete without wine!

After a much needed shower, I collected Mom and Tim and we hopped the train over to Vernazza so they could experience at least one other Cinque Terre town. It was super crowded with cruise ship tourists. But we managed to snag a delicious seafood lunch at Ristorante Luca!

There were still a lot of beautiful flowers blooming!
Tim captured me taking this photo of mom! This seems to be a theme on this trip.
Tim and Tim reenacting our Romeo & Juliet shot.
Meeting more locals!
Everything looked so tasty!
I wanted to take it all home!
We had mussels, shrimp, ravioli stuffed with fish, anchovies and the most amazing limoncello pan di spagna!

After lunch the crowds cleared out and we were able to explore Vernazza and do some shopping! The it was back to the hotel to sleep, because after everything, I was beat!

Photo courtesty of Colleen Murphy

September 21:

Had to pack our bags and leave Cinque Terre behind. Colleen got a great shot of the group before we headed to the train station. Another short train ride and then on to the bus to make our way to Florence!

Hill towns and Carrera Marble Mines on the way to Florence
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