The Italian Riviera... unbelieveable
Trip Start Aug 19, 2010
12Trip End Dec 26, 2010
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My traveling companions Rob and Adrian were an absolute riot the entire train ride there, but we were unfortunate in our endeavors to say the least. We had one connecting train between Florence and Riomaggiore, the beautiful Italian coast. When we arrived in this sketchy-looking town called La Spezia where the kind English-speaking people selling us our tickets to the five beautiful beach towns told us very definitely, the next train is at 10:01. Well that was the biggest load of shit I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. All of our comrades within the KSU-Florence program proceeded on to the train that was scheduled to leave a full half hour before we actually arrived in La Spezia, which means they arrived at the desired destination around 9:30 AM. Good for them, right? Adrian, Rob, and I went exploring a little because we thought we had a good hour-long layover: we return to the train station at 9:45 to hop on our next train, but we couldn't understand that the departures board was trying to explain to us that our 10:00 train no longer existed and that the next closest train (at 10:50) was "SOP". This part is hilarious because Adrian is fluent in spanish, he was born in Spain, I can speak plenty of French, and Rob is probably my equivalent in German, however we still couldn't piece together that when a train in Italy says "SOP" it means sopressa. Sopressa as it turns out does not mean delayed, it loosely translates to "deleted." Needless to say it took a homeless man that understood how dumb we were to convey the message that we needed a new train.
After our supposed 1 hour sojourn in La Spezia turned into a 2 and 1/2 hour slough through some bull crap that is the European rail system, we finally got to our destination, and from here on out words can literally not even approach the explanation that is Cinque Terre
Only a couple of the towns had decent places to swim, Manarola had a few good spots along the trail to the third city Corniglia, and Vernazza and Monterossa have sand beaches that are more than perfect places to take a dip. Some advice: take plenty of water if you intend on hiking the trail, hike the trail, and bring some snorkeling goggles or buy some for 10 euro and snorkel in Monterossa. My room mate Keith saw an octopus and hundreds of fish just a swimmers distance off the coast. Overall, Cinque Terre is a beautiful day trip away from Milan, Florence, Siena, and Pisa, but to fully enjoy it I think a return trip that included a couple hours on a kayak would be optimal.
On a scale of 1-jump on a plane and visit Cinque Terre, I would highly recommend it