Picking up where I stopped off I'll start you off with a photo of the Maggi clan in Pisa, just recently uploaded for your viewing pleasure
Getting back on tracke, Tuesday we decided to head back to the Cinque Terre, only this time by train from Lucca. So we drove the short distance to Lucca and then bought our tickets to the Cinque Terre via the city of La Spezia where we had been the day before We when got there everyone split up and I headed off to the north most city, Monterosso, with my mom, Gram, and Uncle Tony. We "toured" the city, which was gorgeous
and then made our way back south stopping in the next city, Vernazza, where we had lunch. Lunch included an anchovie dish that Gram ordered as they are a speciality of the area. I'm not the biggest fan of anchovies (ie I don't like them), but these were really good. At this point I decided to split from the three of them and hike the trail between Vernazza and Corniglia. This part of the trail was reputed to be steep, but not too bad. That would be a big fat lie It was all stairs; stairs up, more stairs up, even more stairs up, and then almost as many stairs down. And these were not nice even stairs, but big uneven rocks. I'm glad I did it, but kinda wish I had known what I was getting myself into before I started. The significant other of one of my aunts, who hiked the whole thing, told me this was the hardest section (sadly not what the tour books had said.) However, if you ever go there, do some of the hiking because the views are amazing! This view of Vernazza would be one of them
as would this view from near Riomaggiore.
In Corniglia I got some gelatto (yummy) and looked around the cute shops where I bought a hand stamped T-shirt. It was just the kind of souvenir I was looking for; slightly touristy, but one of a kind From here I took the train down to Manarole. Unfortunately I arrived here during the Italian version of a siesta, but I did get a photo of a cute guy! Overall the group was on a mission, as Brittany's friend wanted a photo of her Italian "boyfriend" as a souvenir. Sadly, this is a photo I wasn't able to upload From here I decided I had enough time to hike back to Riomaggiore, the first town of the five. This was, as the tour books described it, a fairly easy and well paved hike. It was a beautiful stroll and my only disappointment was coming upon this plant
and not having anyone to take a photo of me with it because you really can't get the scope of it through this pic. The thing was gigantic! My guess is that it was 9' high and could easily star in Little Shop of Horrors.
Overall, I would have to say that Monterosso and Corniglia were my favorite towns. Not too tiny and not too touristy. Would love to be able to go back to the Cinque Terre again and spend some more time there.
Around 6 we all met back up in La Spezia and got our tickets back to Lucca. Due to some odd ticket agents we didn't all get the same tickets, however we didn't discover this until some of us were getting off the train to transfer and others decided to stay on to transfer elsewhere. At the transfer station my Aunt Vera, cousin Brittany, and I went in search of a toilet and found pay ones, which were completely wet inside. Suspicious. As was the fact that everything required buttons to operate/dispense, even the toliet paper. Come to discover that everything is sprayed down inbetween used to "sterilize" it. One also needs to be wary of the emergency button next to the toilet paper button - wouldn't want to get caught with the door opening in the middle of things, as may have happened to one of my cohorts
Since the one driver was with each group this worked out okay and when we got to Lucca we decided to head back towards the villa in search of food. (We were suppose to eat in La Spezia, however due to some "confusion" this didn't happen.) Since it was 9 p.m. by this point there wasn't much open, so we just went with a place that was. We had a waiter, who might also have been the owner, that didn't really speak any English, but was game for most anything. The food was all wonderful, though I think we might have been happy with most anything at that point. Some people also ordered desert which tasted like a dried fruit pie. We came to later find out that it was spinach and another green soaked in cream and sugar and baked with pine nuts - craziness! After offering to wash dishes instead pay (a universal idea apparently we headed home for some well deserved rest.
Wednesday morning we slept in a wee bit and then about eight of us headed off to inner city Lucca for the day. Lucca is another old fortress town with a huge wall all around it. However, you can walk on this wall, which we did before we left. Otherwise we walked around some of the churches and enjoyed lunch and gelatto. This was my favorite gelatto of the trip - I got some great pistachio and some rice, which tasted like Easter Rice Pie (a Maggi family tradition) and was wonderful!
After this we went back to the villa to pick up my stuff before heading to the airport. I took this time to wander around the villa, as I'd yet to see it in daylight Made it safely to the airport and safely back home to Glencree. A bit of a whirlwind experience, but wonderful!
I'll now leave you with a bit of photo essay - enjoy!
Stairway to heaven anyone?
A little bit of repair is never a bad thing.
Stone steps - on and on they go . . .
Do you really need to see the town? We'll have to think about that