Buongiorno from the Italian Riviera! I’ve been in Italy for 5 nights so far: 1 in Genova; 3 in Manarola (Cinque Terre), and now I’m in La Spezia (Liguria region of northern Italy), and I’ve visited other towns in between. All I can say is WOW…and this is only the beginning of my 2.5 weeks in Italy. I’ve decided to take my time wherever I am and wherever I go and just enjoy being here. I’m in no rush, I have no checklist, I have no real plan (except for a wedding to attend tomorrow!)
After 20 hours of travel, I arrived in Genova without my luggage and my bank card didn’t work at 5 ATM machines; this was not what I had in mind for my Italian adventures. As Doris Day would put it “Que sera sera”…”whatever will be, will be” (click on the link for the song). So I just accepted it. It wasn’t the end of the world and things only got better from there.
I had a short visit in Genova; I spent the night at the beautiful Grand Hotel Savoia, which had rooftop Jacuzzis with panoramic views, a spa, a jetted tub in my Executive Room, and a great breakfast spread.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to use the spa facilities due to my missing luggage (thank you Lufthansa and Air Canada), but all in all, it was a real treat to stay at the Grand Hotel Savoia for my first night in Italy.
The next day, I took the train to Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre (5 villages), where I would be staying for 3 nights at Manarolasolemare (“Camera Silvano” was my room). I had my own terrace (up the stairwell outside my room) with a breathtaking view of the sea. I will most definitely be returning there again and taking more time out to “just be.”
Manarola is a small, gorgeous village and is a perfect place to stay while visiting the overwhelmingly picturesque Cinque Terre. I will surely need to buy an external hard drive (this was the only thing that I forgot at home), as my computer is nearly full and I’m already at 45GB of photos (in 5 days); and I have 10 days weeks left!
I took a day trip to the neighbouring village of Riomaggiore (only a 3 minute train ride from Manarola), which is the most eastern village of the Cinque Terre. Bella bella! I ended up spending much of my time with two different people I met while I wandered through the village. First I met Andrea, an older man whom I sat with for about 1.5 hours. He brought me to see his garden, offered me a lemon from his tree, told me stories and gave me some life advice. I really enjoyed my time with him.
I also met Lucca, a young diver who brought me to see a castle high up in the village with beautiful panoramic views. I got a free workout from climbing all those steep stone steps in the narrow passageways; I must admit I was a bit embarrassed at my fitness level! The next day my legs felt like I had tight rubber bands behind my knees!
For a late lunch, I went to Trattoria La Lanterna, which Andrea recommended to me. I ordered the Porcini Mushroom Risotto and it was sooooo delicious! I can’t even describe how tasty it was, but it makes my stomach grumble just thinking about it. When I return home, I’m going to put my creative cooking skills to work and attempt to replicate this dish.
I left Riomaggiore around 7:30pm and I rushed to the train station to catch my train to Manarola (about a 2 minute ride). I saw a train on the platform where I was to depart and there were people at the ticket machine. I looked at the clock and knew that I had to get on that train or else I’d have to stay in Riomaggiore for another hour – and I wanted to get back to Manarola. I couldn’t wait any longer for those people to finish buying their tickets. I barely had time to think, but I managed to make a quick calculated decision. I rushed to the platform and hopped on the train…without a ticket! Yes, I am admitting my crime to the world. Even though I had the euros in my hand and I was fully prepared to pay, I was still paranoid that the ticketmaster would come around.
The ride was to be short (3 minutes), as Manarola is the next village beside Riomaggiore. But the ride was longer than 3 minutes….and longer than 5 minutes. And we weren’t stopping anywhere. Something wasn’t right. I asked a woman on the train if we were going to Manarola, and lo and behold…I was on the wrong train. I was going all the way to Monterosso (the last village of the Cinque Terre), with no stops in between. And guess when the next train would depart back to Manarola? In 1 hour! Well, needless to say, this wasn’t in my plans, but remember, I don’t have a plan. Again, “Que sera sera”! I had a scoop of dark chocolate and lime gelato and strolled the streets of Monterosso. Now I can check that off my list too…oh but wait, I don’t have a checklist. I’m just letting things unfold, as they should. Whatever happens, happens.
I discovered a new part of the village that I wasn’t even aware of, in fact that’s how I stumbled upon Trattoria dal Billy – my restaurant of choice for my last dinner in Manarola. (I highly recommend this place and will write more about it in another post). Soon after I began my appetizers, I ended up joining 3 guys from Paris, Saudi Arabia and Mississippi (all Serbian); we had a lovely dinner and great conversation; it was nice to have company for a change.
I am now in La Spezia for 3 nights (right beside Riomaggiore), for my friend Andrea’s wedding (a different Andrea than the one above). This will be the first time I’ve gone to a wedding in another country! I’m very excited. I am staying in a room at Quiet Night, which is centrally located, about a 10 minute walk from the train station. My room has its own own terrace and spacious bathroom. Quiet Night is a real comfortable property with a very helpful and pleasant owner, Ilaria. La Spezia is a 13 minute train ride from Manarola. I’m going to visit Portovenere while I’m here and I may go back to Cinque Terre for an afternoon, depending upon how things go.
After the wedding (click here for that story), I will be moving on to Tuscany, with more adventures to be had. I will be visiting friends in Siena, Florence, Montevarchi and other places in between (you’ll have to find out where by returning to the blog).
I will post shorter stories in the future, along with my top favourite images from this visit to Italy (this might take a month or so, as I will countless photos to go through). I will also be posting videos on my youtube stream. For now, I wanted to give you a small sampling of my Italian adventures thus far.
Until next time….Ciao! (PS- Scroll down below if you’d like to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!)