Saturday, July 26, 2008

End of the Trip

After passing through Genoa, we could catch beautiful azure glimpses of the sea from our train. At last we arrived in the Cinque Terre - five magical tiny towns on the Italian coast.

We were staying in our favorite, Corniglia (pronounced Cornelia). It is the smallest and least touristy since it is on a cliff, not on the water, and requires a hike up many many stairs (or a bus ride, but what's the fun in that?).

Here's the entire town. The next town, Manarola, can be seen in the distance on the left.

A small train links the five towns and runs about twice an hour. From our home base we could hop from town to town.

We fell into a routine of waking up leisurely, having a morning cappuccino or ciaccolato, then the kids and I would head to the beach, while Anthony would explore and take fabulous photos with his new camera.

This is looking down the stairs toward the train tracks, about 3/4 of the way up to Corniglia.

Manarola from Corniglia.

Buon giorno! Anna loved her cafe latte, ma non troppo caldo.

This day Colin was so excited about getting into the sea he didn't want to even eat lunch. I dragged him to a foccaceria where we got pizza, sandwiches, etc. He finally got hungry enough to eat it, back in the water. Meanwhile, I had a heavenly piece of cipolle foccacia (onion) - the bread was crisp and perfectly anoited with frangrant olive oil, lip-smackingly salty but sweet from the oven-cured onions - simple but heavenly.

This beach was all big stones - no sand - and we all banged up our legs but saw some nice fish.

Ciaccolato freddo!

This is the main street in Corniglia, with our favorite restaurant on the left, and the amazing gelateria on the right. Its narrow and obviously pedestrian only, with all the locals walking up and down before dinner and saying hello to other locals. Fortunately we made friends with the gelato makers and thus, several locals regularly greeted us, too.

Video on the iPod -- the best way for mom and dad to enjoy a boring wine tasting or those long, multicourse dinners.

The water was an amazing color and so clear.

Note the tiny swimmer below for perspective.

Alberto, maker of wonderful gelato. Our favorites were the lemon (made from local fruit - tasted piney and citrusey and not too sweet), honey, pistacchio, fig, cafe, mango.

Even when you order a marvelous pizza in paradise, a five year old may howl and refuse it because of "green stuff" (scanty dried oregano). Sick of it, we made him sit on the other side of the street where we didn't have to hear it (but could still keep an eye on him). Empathetic Anna felt bad for him and went to sit next to him, and offered him a piece with green stuff picked off.

Amazing views, amazing camera... amazing place: Vernazza!

The view of the vineyards from our room in Corniglia. They make the famous Sciacchettrà desert wine from these grapes.

After playing for hours in the sun, we'd head home for showers and some rest, then mosey around until our 8 o'clock dinner reservation.
We were so sad to leave, and said arrivederci to all our new friends, on a foggy morning that they said at least would make us want to leave, but no, not really.

Two and a half hours later we were in Milano. After being in the suburbs with Romina, then the relatively quiet Riviera of Cinque Terre, Milano was a big city shock. "Stick close to us, and be careful!" we warned the children. "This is a big city, like New York." "But I haven't been to New York, either," Anna reminded us.

Milano was the first place we went where people tried to prey on us for being tourists - if we stopped to look at our map, tried to talk to us and get us to go to their hotel, or tied knotted thread bracelets unsolicited on the kids' wrist, then asked 5 euro for them. "Why did he give us that and ask for so much money?" they asked, so innocent they needed the scam explained over and over.

Fortunately, we knew how to read a metro map, and how to find the beauty in the city. The cathedral in Milan is much bigger than the one in Como, and under constant renovation.

Man, I'd love a floor like that!

You can take an elevator to the roof to see the incredible ornate decorations up close, and get great views of the city.

We ate some of the best pizza for our last night and some mediocre gelato (very lackluster after Alberto's), then prepared for our long journey home. The kids (especially Anna) were sad to leave Italy and Europe, but wanted to get home to see the cats, and their friends, and their stuff.

It was a really wonderful trip. We loved showing the kids a whole other way of living. There was lots of hand-holding and happy moments, and very few times where we wanted to leave them on the other side of the road. I know the kids will remember this trip, and I hope it is the first of many visits for them. I know we'll be back, and I can't wait!

More Italy pictures!


Anonymous said...

Just Lovely!!! You describe it all so well.
Love, M/Nana

get2eric said...

We've been waiting for this post and it was worth it.

mr man said...

nyet slov'.


Glad you had fun.
Glad you managed to return.

Emily said...

Ah, so beautiful! Thanks for taking us along virtually.

Next, New York?

peevish said...

Wonderful post, long enough to savor over 2 trips to the computer. The kids will have fond memories of it, I'm sure.

And now I just want some really good gelato.

ColeBugsmommy said...

Those pics are so amazing, they are better than most post cards I've seen. I'm still pushing for you adopting Cole and I before the next trip and Colin would have someone to sit on the other side of the street with, because he wouldn't eat pizza with green stuff either!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! WOW!! No other word to describe your pictures ....A.Norma.xxxx

mainlyclearskies said...

Beautiful! And that cathedral is AWESOME. Just truly amazing. I laughed about Colin not wanting the pizza w/ the green stuff.

Alissa said...

the pictures bring back all of my memories of the Cinque Terre and Italy. I want to go back!

Library Lady said...

I don't know what I'm longing for more now--the food or the sea. Luckily we're going to Chincoteague in a few weeks, so at least I will get my share of that!

Glad you had such a wonderful trip, and thank you for the marvelous pictures and travelogue!

The Laukkanen's said...

Truely amazing! That camara is FANTASTIC!! I almost feel like I was there...too bad I wasn't!!