European Chronicles | Vernazza = BEST. PLACE. EVER. (so far, anyway)

Well after a tram and four (yes FOUR) trains that were so hot that we literally felt like we were riding in the bowels of hell, we finally arrived in Vernazza.  And O. M. G. is it the most amazing place I have ever seen.  Teeny tiny, no cars whatsoever (you can only get there via train or boat), cute little shops and trattorias on every corner, fishing boats strewn about the teeny harbor and beach, and of course the ever gorgeous colorful Italian architecture.  I mean, look at it!  (And yes, I did take this picture, after a very VERY steep hike, which I will delve into a bit further below).

For those who aren’t familiar with Vernazza (I had never heard of it before I started researching Italy for this trip), it is part of the Cinque Terre, a group of five villages along the coast in northern Italy.  Each of the villages is connected by walking trails along the coast, which were originally the only way to get to and from each of the villages.  Nowadays, they are absolutely gorgeous (and very popular) hiking trails.  Each of the villages has its own charm, but I was particularly drawn to Vernazza when researching…and the second we laid eyes on it, we were completely in love.

We raced into our apartment to unpack and shower, and then off we trotted to check out the village.  We took the camera of course to take advantage of that beautiful sunset light.  Our apartment was right in the main square, so as soon as we stepped out, this is what we saw.  How could we not love this place????

The Cinque Terre is particularly famous for their pesto (pesto was invented here!) so we decided to try their famous pesto pizza for dinner that night.  GOOD LORD, IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO FREAKIN GOOD!  I mean, we are talking literally the best pizza I have ever had in my entire life.  By far and long.  It was so good that we couldn’t resist having it for dinner the next night as well.  LOL!  Here are Daddy and Delilah waiting for their pizza, as well as a view of the main street in Vernazza.

The next morning, we got up bright and early and headed out to explore some more.  We decided to go up to the castle at the top of the harbour and check it out.  It was built in the 13th century and was so gothic and sort of creepy looking!  But it did have one amazing view at the top (even if Brett and his everlasting fear of heights wasn’t so much a fan).

I didn’t mind the heights so much, but it was the steps to GET there that about killed me.  They went on FOREVER.  This was yet another moment that I thanked my lucky stars we didn’t bother with a stroller.  There is no way we would have been able to do anything in this town (or most of Europe, for that matter) if we didn’t have the wraps.  Especially when everywhere you try to go looks like this:

Here we are climbing up to the castle:

And at the top!

Then we found the little tower that served as protection for the Cinque Terre from attacks from the sea.  We decided to climb it, even though the stairs looked like this:

Hesitantly climbing to the top:

But the view was so worth it!

Even if Brett was much MUCH happier once we were down at the bottom again.  Haha.

And just because he’s a handsome devil 🙂

I had to snap this picture on our way back down because if Paris was filled with dogs, Cinque Terre was absolutely overrun with cats!  There were cats everywhere!  Delilah really liked them…whenever she saw another cat, she just stared and stared.  She must have thought they were the funniest looking pomeranians!  Haha.  Here is a typical front door in Vernazza (with two furry friends, of course).

The only sucky part about Vernazza is that it is literally overrun with daytrippers in the middle of the day.  So we decided to take the opportunity to hole up in our apartment for a rest.  We went to the local deli and bought fresh bread, pecorino cheese, parma prosciutto, Italian olive mix, and fresh homemade pesto for a little Italian picnic lunch inside.  Now that is what I’m talking about.  YUM!

We headed out again in the late afternoon when it was cooler and everything was bathed in beautimous light.  We decided to hike up the trail to Monterosso (the next village) to get some good shots of Vernazza from above.  Brett and I aren’t really the hiking types (were much more into sitting on fluffy pillows and being served chocolates on a silver platter…haha) but we’ll do anything for a good photo opportunity!

It started off innocently enough.

But it wasn’t long before we realized that it was literally STRAIGHT up for about 14,000 steps and 17,000 steeply inclined walkways.  If the phrase ‘women don’t sweat, they glow’ is true, then I was positively iridescent by the time we were halfway up.  Especially with 20 pounds of dead weight strapped to my back.  Haha.  This picture sums up my opinion of hiking when we were about 2/3 of the way there:

But as soon as we came around the bend and saw the breathtaking view below us, we both agreed that it was totally worth it.

Unfortunately, Brett’s heights fear struck again, so we pretty much spent just enough time to take a bunch of pictures and marvel at the beauty before we hightailed it back down to safety.  Very glad we decided to go for it though.  It was gorgeous!!  With all this climbing and walking and bag dragging, it’s no wonder Brett and I are losing weight over here.  Our clothes are starting to fall off of us already.  If I had known that a trip to Europe would be the key to losing this cursed baby weight, I would have done it ages ago!  Haha.

The next day, we just bummed around the apartment in the morning (we were exhausted from all of our climbing the day before!) and then headed out for a boat trip in the afternoon.  We decided not to go to all five of the villages (we wanted to spend a few hours at one of them instead) so we chose Riomaggiore.  It is the biggest of the five (a whopping 1800 people live there!) and seemed interesting.

Delilah LOVED the boat trip.  She was asleep when we left, but woke up when we stopped at Manarola and was all smiles from then on out.  I went to snap a picture of her and Brett on the boat and gasped in horror as I realized that we’d left the memory card for the big camera back in the apartment and I hadn’t packed my spare.  Doh!  So all we had was the little point and shoot for our daytrip.  We won’t be making that mistake again!  Here it is anyway 🙂

Riomaggiore was very beautiful, but we were spoiled by Vernazza and didn’t like Riomaggiore as much as our little ‘home’ in the Cinque Terre.  It was also ridiculously steep to climb!  Just walking up to the main piazza was like scaling a mountain.  LOL.  We did some shopping and wandered around a bit before stopping for a gelato and heading back to Vernazza.  Here’s what you see when getting off the boat at Riomaggiore:

And Delilah and Mommy on Riomaggiore’s main street:

We arrived back in Vernazza (and located the elusive memory card!) we thought that since it was quite warm and our last night in the Cinque Terre, it might be fun to have Delilah take her first ever ‘swim’ in the ocean.  She loves water and loves her baths, but we weren’t quite sure what she would think of the coldish Mediterranean seawater.  It was hilarious.  Here’s a little play by play of the action:

I love looking at the water!

Wait, what?  You are putting me IN the water??

Um, I’m not so sure how I feel about this.

Actually, I think I kind of like it.

No wait, I LOVE IT!

Swimming was SO MUCH FUN!  Let’s do it again!

Haha.  What a cutie.

Well we are off to Florence this morning with a stop in Pisa for lunch and some leaning tower spotting along the way.  See you all in a few days!

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