Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Pizza in Pisa!

We have had a great time with Rachelle & Ira in town. Jared took a couple of days off of work so that we could go and be with them in Italy.

Day 1 started off with an incredibly early morning, again. (We are getting really good at waking up at 3 am to try to catch the flights we want.) After flying into Pisa we picked up our rental car equipped with a navigation system which we later learned only spoke in Italian - Oh, My! We made do though and after stalling the car a few times and making a few wrong turns we made it to the train station where we were meeting Rachelle & Ira (who had spent the previous day and a half in Rome). Our first point of business was to go and see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was pretty amazing to look at and surrounded by other marvelous buildings and a ton of street vendors who tried selling us just about everything you can imagine possible. We had a lot of fun walking around the area, taking pictures, and then off down a nearby street to find some authentic Italian food!

It didn't take long at all to find a great pizzeria where we all ate pizza or calzones and then a gelateria across the street for a taste of the famous Italian Ice Cream! And boy is it as good as everyone says it is. (I think we had pizza and gelato every day we were in Italy!)

After spending a few hours in Pisa it was time to head off to Cinque Terre. An area about an hour north of Pisa where there are five small towns along the Italian coastline. The drive was amazing and we enjoyed stopping along the way to look at the views and take some pictures. We even found a little train on a track that they have in a lot of the towns. I'm quessing they are used to transport the people and their harvests (maybe of grapes) up and down the steep terrain of the area. We stopped to get some information in the first of the five towns (heading from south to north), Riomaggiore. It looked like a pretty neat place, but we didn't stay long because we wanted to get a hike in to another town before dark. We drove on past the next town, Manarola, without stopping. The drive was nice and we were so excited. We stopped in the third town Corniglia where a fabulous gentleman gave us instructions on where to park and where to start hiking. Because we would be spending the night in the next town we all packed our own backpacks with clean clothes (or at least clean underwear and a shirt) for the next day, and headed out.

The hike from Corniglia to Vernazza was amazing! It was a lot of fun to walk along the coast and see the greenery, cliffs, and sea down below. It took us about an hour and a half including stops for picture breaks (which also served the purpose of giving us a chance to catch our breath)! We were so excited to get to Vernazza. It was amazing. Most of the streets weren't even car accessible and most of the buildings were attached to each other and built into the landscape! We loved that the town was down at sea level and stopped for pictures. We got a few before one HUGE wave came and got us. Rachelle, Ira, and Jared all got away in time to only get minimally wet, but I got completely soaked! (I guess it didn't help that I ran cross-country and track in high school, huh?) :)

Hope you enjoy the Before and After photos below!

(Believe me, I was even wetter than I look in this picture!)

We hadn't booked a place to stay while there so we walked around and finally knocked on a man's door that had a sign for rooms posted by it. He took us to a small room that had two twin beds pushed together and two cots that we could use too. We took it gratefully and all shared a cozy night together!

The next morning we were up and at 'em again. We hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso. The hike was about the same length and lots of stairs up and down. We were exhausted by the time we made it to the town. But again, the hiking was amazing!

We loved the beauty of the towns in Cinque Terre. It was fun to get a more untouched view of what old Italy is like. We especially loved the colors and architecture of their buildings! We ended our adventures in Cinque Terra half way through the day on Friday. We loved our time there and would have enjoyed spending more except that we had other things on the agenda for the weekend.