hiking the italian coast

Hiking in Cinque Terre was amazing. Jess and I grabbed a cup of coffee that morning because we needed a pep in our step and then the four of us made our way to the trail head.

We didn't know what kind of terrain we would have and it turned out to be a LOT of stairs. We worked out quite an appetite and quenched it with plenty of focaccia and gelato. We weren't able to walk to all five of the towns as the southern two trails were closed. 

There's not a whole lot to say about this day other than the fact that we really enjoyed the hike, the food, the company, and the incredible vistas.

I don't know why but there are cats eveywhere in the towns of Cinque Terre, and while I'm not usually a cat person, I couldn't help snapping a few shots of them.

Check back for more photos soon!

cinque terre

We stayed in La Spezia, a work-a-day town a short train ride from Cinque Terre. We booked a really great apartment that was only a ten minute walk to the station and since trains lefts so often, we really didn't need to rush too much to get anywhere. I don't know why, but Rick Steves doesn't care for La Spezia. We loved it! But more on that later.

For our first full day in Cinque Terre we decided to just explore and take it easy. We planned to hike from town to town the next day, so we really just wanted to pick a couple towns to wander through, find some yummy food, and enjoy each other's company. 

Our first stop was Riamaggiore. I wasn't prepared for how tiny these towns were! Everyone said they were small, but I wasn't expecting to walk the whole thing in a half hour. Our plan was to wander, have some food, and then head to the beach, but we quickly realized we wouldn't be doing any swimming. I don't know if it was the time of year we were there or a particularly strong current, but the water was treacherous and the beach was so rocky that if a wave got the better of you, it was going to end badly.

After walking through Riamaggiore and making Tim hold off on getting a fish cone (don't bring it up with him, it's kind of a sore subject). To make a long story short, my brother is kind of a seafood addict and he kept seeing these paper cones full of shellfish all over this town. It wasn't quite time to eat and we were all convinced they would have the same thing in the other towns so we hopped on another train. The train stations in these towns are so little that the trains don't fit in the stations, so you have to wander down these tunnels in order to board.   

Instead of stopping at the next town, our train sped all the way through to the Northernmost town of Monterosso. Sure, why not? We hopped off and did what we do best. Wander. 

On the way home we bought pesto, pasta, and wine at a local shop and had a delicious dinner at home.  

pisa

This was a LONG day. And I mean long. I was exhausted from the wedding the night before and we had to wake up early. We were training from Florence to La Spezia, but we planned to stop in Pisa to see the tower.

I immediately fell asleep on the train and woke up to Caleb telling me we were in Pisa. We checked our bags at the train station and made a bee line for the old part of town. On the way there, we ran into a Fiat parade. I was loving it, because if you haven't heard, I really want a little white Fiat now!  

Leb and I decided to buy tickets to get into the Baptistry because there was a Pisano pulpit that I really wanted to see. Tim and Jess decided to pass and waited for us outside. At this point, I'm tired, I'm grumpy, it's raining, we've had a pretty bad lunch, and all I want to do is sleep. But then something wonderful happened. The Baptistry is acoustically perfect, so much so, that one person can harmonize with the echo he creates. It's quite remarkable. And every half hour the guard closes all the doors and sings. See a video of it here. He happened to do this while we were in there, and it was one of the most hauntingly beautiful things I've ever heard. It really woke me up.  

After we left the Baptistry we went out onto the lawn and met up with Tim and Jess. We walked back to train station and grabbed our bags.  

We arrived in La Spezia and after some difficulty meeting up with the person renting the apartment to us, settled in for a few days on the coast. 

More soon! 

 

 

our last day in florence

 

This was the big day. The day that I had waited for since the end of July. I know, long time, right? But if you only knew what this day would mean to me...

I was going to shoot a wedding in Florence.

Let me say that again. I was going to shoot a wedding in FLORENCE!!! 

I woke up early with excitement, got dressed, and anxiuosly ate breakfast. I didn't start with Rochelle until around 1pm, so I had some time to spend with Leb, Tim, and Jess sight seeing for a bit. We decided to tour the Palazzo Vecchio and climb the tower. I hadn't done either on my last visit. I don't know why, but I love walking around buildings that are hundreds of years old and following stone stairways up to the rooftops. Poor Caleb has to be careful not to scrape his head in some of these places, but the tingling in my toes as we ascended that tower made a possible head injury on his part worth it. I could just see guards walking the tower, the Medici Duchessa reading in her apartments, and heads of state milling around, their arms filled with folios and talking of important affairs. Maybe I have too vivid of an imagination?

If I can, I'll post some photos of the wedding in the coming months. It was stunning, and oh so touching. A truly beautiful couple.

florence continued

We were wiped the next day. And I mean wiped. We had these grand plans of waking up early and being the first in line to the Uffizi in the morning. Let's just say that didn't happen.

Leb woke me up at 7 so that we could make it to the museum by 8:45.  I woke up, staggered to the shower, got myself dressed, and seeing that Tim and Jess weren't up and going yet, decided to lay back down in bed until they were. Logical, right? If you know me at all, that was Leb's first mistake. Never let me go back to bed after you've gotten me up. 

What felt like 15 minutes later was actually two hours. Leb had let us all sleep while patiently waiting for us to wake up. But by 11:30, he was ready to go. Round two of the wake ups began and this time we were all up and out the door.

We had purchased the Firenze Card the day before, and it allowed us access to a lot of the galleries and museums throughout the city. Not only that, we got to skip A LOT of the lines. We walked past the two hour wait for drop-in visitors at the Uffizi and right to the second door for our pass. We waited 5 min before getting into the gallery.  Buy. The. Card.

I won't bore you with the details of the Uffizi. You can't take photos, and you guys aren't here for an Art History lesson. If you haven't been, all I can say is GO. It's my favorite museum in Italy. As an Art Historian, I'm a bit biased, but as a student of the Italian Renaissance, I'm totally biased. I could write multiple posts about the pieces in that gallery, their historical importance, and their impact on me. But again, I won't bore you. If you're really interested, send me an email or grab a cup of coffee with me sometime. But, Cimabue, Giotto, Botticelli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Gentileschi....ok, I'm done. But, ahhh!

After the Uffizi we walked over to Santa Croce. I hadn't been in this church last time and was excited to see the tombs of Dante, Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli. Can you imagine spending eternity with those guys?! The church was breathtaking, but I was particularly struck by Michaelangelo's tomb. I was mesmerized buy the three figures of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture mourning the loss of their master. It's one of the more touching tombs I've seen.

We capped off the day with a stop at the Museo del' Duomo and saw Ghiberti's Doors of Paradise and one of Michaelangelo's Piet├ís.  On the way home we grabbed fresh pesto, gnocchi, tortellini, bread, pecorino cheese, salame, and a couple bottles of wine.  We played Euchre into the evening while patrons at the restaurant below dined the night away. Oh Florence, how I love you.