After leaving our beautiful campsite we began our drive toward the Cinque Tierra, a string of five fishing villages along the Mediterranean that can only be reached by boat, train or hiking. The five villages, Monterosso, Vernaza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are amazing. We arrived in Levanto just in time to catch the 12:40 train which took us to the first town of the Cinque Tierra, Monterosso. We arrived in Monterosso after a two minute extreme speed train ride, and were greeted by an array of gelato bars, sandwich stands and souvenir shops. Initially we planned to rent a raft or kayak in which we could practice our imaginary sailing talents and explore the coast. However we changed our plans upon discovering a century old trail that carved into the mountains to connect all five towns of the Cinque Tierra. We decided to follow the trail and began the hike from Monterosso to Vernaza. What began as a leisurely stroll with an amazing view soon turned into an intense, upward mountain trek. The trail was composed of stairs built into the mountains. The stairs were steep and hard to climb, but the view was stunning from the top.
After three hours, we emerged victors. We arrived in Vernaza and headed straight for Gelato on the beach! After strolling the Vernaza seaside and giving Natalia time to explore all the handmade jewelry shops, it was late afternoon, so we decided to head back to Lavanto and drive to Pisa for the night. In contrast to the three hour hike from Monterosso to Vernaza, the train ride back only took two minutes! In two more minutes the train was in Levanto and we were back in our car. We were still pretty hungry from the hike, so we stopped for delicious baguette and prochuitto sandwiches at the Italian gas station “Autogrill”.
Dad, Max, Julian and I all opted to car camp at the Autogrill near Pisa, after all the food was good right? However, although Natalia enjoyed the sandwiches, she was distraught by the Autogrill’s lack of showers. Natalia pleaded her case until we agreed to camp. After finding a nice campsite near Pisa we drove into the city for dinner. While walking the streets looking for a Pizzeria, we stumbled across a beautiful Church that was hosting a benediction in celebration of Pentecost (in Italy, Pentecost is celebrated with a four day weekend). We stayed for Benediction, then continued our quest for dinner. We finally ended our day by finding a pizza place that not only served good pizza, but brought us large bowls of Lays potato chips to go with our meal. Success!