Italy: Pisa & The Cinque Terre ~ Day 7

Perfect pesto and colourful buildings…

Friday, April 29th 2011: Pisa & The Cinque Terre

I heard Space was fun, but it didn’t seem like I missed out on much. After packing up, breakfast, bus prep and the day song we were well on our way.

First stop, Pisa. I don’t think I was expecting it to be quite the tourist trap that it actually was. We walked in through a maze of gypsies (not-so-legal) and stalls (legal) trying to sell all kinds of paraphenalia before we got to the Baptistry, Cathedral and tower. We had about an hour to kill, so everyone went for photo-ops and to shop around before meeting up again. The gypsies were relentless with trying to sell sunglasses to people who already had shades on, or watches to people who were already wearing one. Funny thing, my ignorance and picturing that a gypsy would look like Esmerelda from Disney’s animated Hunchback movie… errh,  not so much. Turns out they were all men from middle Africa, and the women and children were nowhere to be found, but we were told to be wary of them all.

We continued on our way to La Spezia. Arriving in Portovenere was almost like arriving in Sorrento,  only this time there was lots of sunshine and not a rain cloud in sight. There was a bay surrounded by cliffs, boats bobbing in the water, mountains of greenery and colourful buildings squeezed tightly together. Josh and I walked the small town, starting with the high route, and stopped for foccacia and pesto from a small bakery that Marlen recommended. I only have three words: Best. Pesto. Ever. It was so good, I came home and googled it 🙂

We went here: http://www.bajeico.it/ and I’m pleased to find that you can order the pesto online here: http://www.bottegadelpesto.com/

We walked until the path ended at a cliff with a cathedral up on gentle sloping steps of coloured cobblestones and slabs of broken rocks with patches of green grass peeking through. It was another picture perfect view of the ocean through stone wall windows and from a high balcony and rooftop. We trekked back down and stopped at a rocky grotto where I dipped my feet in the cold water and it chilled my whole body. We returned to the dock to get on the ferry to cruise to farthest north of the five towns, Monterosso.

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The weather couldn’t have been better for being on the water. It was chilly when the breeze picked up, but just sitting in the sun was enough to warm your very soul. We made quick stops in Rio Maggiore, Manarola, passed Corniglia, and stopped in Vernazza before pulling into Monterosso. All five towns are right along the shoreline, tucked into crevices on the cliffs in tight clusters of bright yellow, pink, orange and blue buildings.

Instead of walking around here, I changed and lay out on the rocks by myself for two hours. I listened to the water splash up on the rocks and the seagulls as they flew by. By now, the sun warmed me right through and I no longer had the chill that had stayed with me before. I could definitely live here. Once the sun started to set, I got dressed and went into town to scope out the sights and my dinner options.  I walked into the ‘old’ town down the boardwalk along the road, u-turned, and came back up the beach. I noticed that the beach didn’t have any sand really, but small rocks and pebbles instead that kinda hurt the bare foot after walking a little while.

I walked into a restaurant and sat on the balcony overlooking the beach and had a glass of wine, with  spinach and ricotta ravioli in a tomato cream sauce. We were here until 8pm, so I ate slowly and wrote and snapped pictures of the pink and purple hues cast over the beach by the setting sun. We all met just as the last bit of sun disappeared and took the train back.

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