Well, I have my first hangover. They feel just as rotten in Italy as they do back home. Today I say goodbye to Riomaggiore and the other Cinque Terre towns and head to Florence via train. I’m super excited to explore a new (but actually very old) part of Italy!
So yesterday, I had two things I wanted to accomplish. 1) Visit Manarola, as it was the only town I hadn’t been to yet and 2) Go swimming. I did both!
I had been reading another blogger’s post about Manarola being her favorite of the 5 towns, and I can understand why. I mean, they’re all very charming. But there was something about Manarola. It felt less crowded than the others. When I got there I started walking uphill (what a surprise) and there weren’t too many other people walking around. I stopped in a little shop because I’ve really been wanting to get a dress while I’m here. Sadly, I’m a little bigger than most of the biggest sizes. This shop had some really cool dresses and she told me that everything was just one size. So I grabbed a couple things to try on. And then I found it. My perfect dress. It’s cotton or linen, washed gray with vertical white stripes. It has shoulder straps and is nearly ankle length with a generous slit up the side. It fits like a dream.
It was missing a button.
So I asked and it was the last one. I asked if she would discount the dress but she said she couldn’t. I decided to take it anyway and just move the bottom button up a notch. She threw in a free fan.
So feeling content with my new purchase, I continued to walk up into Manarola. There was a beautiful church part way up the hill and a small bridge with a trickling stream. The view of the rest of the town from up there was amazing! (I mean, all the views have been amazing).
I stopped in a little shop for lunch and got a slice of focaccia with tomatoes (focaccia is very popular in the area) and also a soda made from chinotto, a local citrus fruit. They were both delish. I walked back downhill and came to this spot where you can get a completely different view of the town.
Then I headed back to the train to go to Monterosso where most of the beaches are. I decided I would explore a bit since I didn’t spend much time looking around the other day when I was there. Monterosso is big and bustling, and busy! Lots of shops and restaurants and there were a lot of people out. I know it’s the busy travel season but I’m thinking perhaps Cinque Terre is a weekend getaway spot, and with it being a Friday, it was maybe more crowded than usual.
A note about me: I don’t like crowds. I don’t like getting dragged along in a shuffle of people or being too close to people who have no concept of personal space and so they’re literally pressing up against you because they are trying to get on the train with you and 200 other people. No. I have a low tolerance for other people’s sweaty arms pressing against mine. Also there is always plenty of time to get on and off the train. It’s not like the subway where you have 45 seconds and then the doors slam shut.
So I wandered around Monterosso until I was nice and sweaty (oh wait, I already was) and then headed for the beach. As expected, the main beach where you could rent a chair was already full, so I walked down a bit to the second beach. The “beach attendant” was a 70 year old man in a white speedo sitting at a small wooden desk under an umbrella. A chair with no umbrella was 12 euro. He wrote it out. His 1 looked like a 2 so I kept thinking he was trying to charge me 20 (I can only count to 6 in Italian) but in reality he was actually offering me a discount. It was 10. Ok great. The younger guy who could speak English showed me to my chair, primo location, a couple feet from the water. Ok, this will work.
The water was the perfect temperature for swimming. Refreshing but not shockingly cold. But it was scummy. Like clear, so you could see all the way to the bottom, but there were leaves and scraggly bits of sea scrap floating around which made the swim less enjoyable. But I still loved being in the water and it felt so good to cool off for a bit.
I let myself dry off a bit and then walked back to the train. It felt like a really long trip back (the walk followed by 4 train stops). I decided to walk down to the marina in Riomaggiore since I hadn’t seen it yet. Again with the crowds. Ugh. But it was cool to see and gave me a whole new view of the town!
I then headed back to my hotel to relax for a bit and freshen up for dinner. Pesto genovese is the regional speciality here so I wanted pasta with pesto for dinner. I had seen a restaurant down in the main part of town so I thought I’d head down there. It was early but I was starving. I got there around 6:30 and was able to get a table outside. The pasta was really good but it was the snobbiest restaurant I had been to, which was unfortunate. I finished my pasta and wine and got out of there.
So, this is where the night got interesting. On my way to dinner there was this tiny bar that was blasting Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Players Anthem, like really loud, in Italian. I started cracking up thinking omg if they only knew the real lyrics! Because of course I couldn’t tell if it was an exact remake or if they had changed the words. Anyway, I thought maybe this might be an interesting place to grab a drink after dinner.
The inside of the bar was tiny but there were a few tables out front, all slanting downhill rather precariously. As I was walking up there was a table of ladies to my right, and one of them had gotten up to pay the bill. She was wearing a wrap over her bathing suit but as she stood in the doorway to ask for the check the wrap fell off and I walked up just as this whole thing was transpiring. She burst out laughing and so did I. I suggested that there must be an easier way for her to get a free drink! Her two friends asked what happened and we all had a good laugh about it and then started chatting. They are from Australia and they were absolutely hilarious. As we talked more I learned that they are also headed to Florence, so we’ve connected on FB and are going to try to meet up for dinner tomorrow night!
So I ordered an Aperol spritz and they bring it out a in a miniature fishbowl the size of my face. So like double the usual size.
Ok, I can do this. I don’t have anywhere to be. I’ll just sit here with my giant drink and take my time. The two owners of the bar were pretty young and some of their friends came by for drinks. They were all pretty ridiculous, like a bunch of frat guys but somehow slightly more sophisticated since they were Italian. There was banter and a lot of selfies. I was finishing up and one of the guys asked me if I wanted another. I said I’d think about it for a second. But then they brought out a spritz to an old guy who had ordered something else. So the guy glances my way with the drink and basically talked me into a second one. Equally as big. So yeah, I sat and got drunk by myself and watched people and it was all very entertaining and relaxing.
But then I had to walk uphill to get back to the hotel. It wasn’t bad – the sun had gone down so it wasn’t super hot. But it still felt like a long walk. I got back and went to sleep. And slept terribly!!! And I’m feeling slightly less rotten than when I woke up. Still, it might be awhile before I drink another one of those.
So soon I will head into town to get one last fried seafood cone before heading out. I’m sure the train ride will be interesting. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post. Ciao!