On the final weekend of my month long stay in Italy I decided to take off by myself to Cinque Terre. There I would explore the five towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore along the coast of the Italian Riviera.
I signed up for the Florence For Fun program event, which offered a day trip that included a round-trip transport from Florence where I was staying, a Cinque Terre National Park entrance ticket, a short boat ride between the fourth and fifth town, and tour guides. The trip details also promised amazing views that we would get to see on hikes through the hilly landscape, the ability to stop and eat local produce, focaccia, seafood and their famous pesto, and to hang out in the beautiful beaches in Vernazza and Monterosso.
That morning of the day trip I dressed in my outdoor hiking gear with my bathing suit underneath. I had heard from other travelers that the hike in between the last two towns would be excruciating and that I would want to immediately jump into the ocean afterward.
The group of students studying abroad from all over the world piled themselves onto a bus with two Italian tour guides who spoke English and who picked up another bilingual local along the way. I sat next to an American female student who wore a sun hat and offered me sunscreen to use. We chatted nearly the whole way to our destination, except for the quick stop to use the restroom at an Italian rest station, until we were greeted with the most beautiful sights of the colorful buildings sitting in the hills above the sparkling blue sea. Read the rest of this page »