16 may 2013
Beauty lies in the creativity of the mind.
Everything I have seen in my short four days in Italy has manifest this profoundly. The Leaning Tower of Pisa and Cinque Terre were two of my visits today and they perfectly portrayed this saying. These monuments and places are visited by people who have traveled from all areas around the world because something makes these monuments and places different, something sets them apart from the rest of the world. Creating something, or an aspect of something that is completely different than anything else, happens in an instant of pure creativity. Coming up with a genuine idea or something new is the definition of creativity. This is great, but the creative mind must be aligned with some sort of structure and organization to create innovative ideas. Europe is full of innovative monuments that have sprung from creative minds. I have already talked about many of them…and trust me, there are a lot more to come.
Words cannot describe how beautiful my journey was today. I traveled from Florence, to Pisa, to La Spezia, through Cinque Terre, and on to Genoa where I had my first “hostel”experience.
We had a wonderful stay in Florence, with an LDS family who was very generous (they gave us food to pack for our entire day). We went through Pisa, where the infamous Leaning Tower in Italy is, and honestly we just stopped so that we could get the picture. Someone (whom I can’t remember now because I have talked to so many people about Europe) told me that the tower is the only thing to see in Pisa. I was pleasantly surprised at home charming the city was. Bustling with expensive shoe stores and college students. On our way from Florence to Pisa our train was packed with Italian University students on their way to school. It was quite fun to get to hear them speak Italiano, it is such a beautiful language.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a phenomena that cannot be explained. When you see it in person you will realize how much it is actually leaning, which is a lot! It was not built with the intention to be leaned over on it’s side, it just kind of happened as they went through construction. People are still allowed up into the tower, which doesn’t look all that safe to me….
We had a nice little stop in Pisa and then were on our way to La Spezia, the beginning of our Cinque Terre adventures! There are five costal cities that make up the area of Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare (cities 1-5 in that order) and all are on the coast north of La Spezia. Cinque Terre is definitely the most beautiful place I have ever been. Each of the cities are perched on a cliff or coastline along the Mediterranean Sea. The houses and shops each sport a different vibrant color and are decorated to the brim with flower boxes, orate window frames, sculptures, etc… It really is a magical place. I have decided that when I am old and need to vacation, my first vacation will be to Cinque Terre!
All of the cities are about a 5 minute train ride apart, or about two-three hiking miles. All the cities are absolutely gorgeous, but they are not kidding when they say they save the best for last. Vernazza (the 4th city) was my favorite, and from what I hear it is usually everyone’s favorite. When you see pictures of Cinque Terre, they usually show you pictures of Vernazza, a stunning little city that sits up and down a cliff brushing the Mediterranean Sea. We got off on the first stop in Riomaggiore for an hour or so and I thought it was absolutely gorgeous. When we heard how Vernazza and Monterosso topped the first three cities hands down, we trained through the next two cities, viewing them only from our coach. When we arrived in Vernazza we were blown away! Again, I have no words to say, stunning, amazing, most beautiful place on earth?? It was gorgeous. If I were Italian I would be shouting Mama Mia over and over again!
We spent a long time in this unique little city of Vernazza and then began our hiking journey to the fifth and final city…Monterosso al Mare There are hiking trails between each of the cities that hug the coastline, but due to landslides only the train between the 4th and 5th cities was open (the one between Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare). This happened to be the most rigorous hiking train, and we were glad to accept the challenge. MOST GORGEOUS HIKE EVER! I wish I could just give you my eyes and let you see what I experienced for yourself because words and pictures to not even come close to giving it justice. The pathway curved up and down and around the mountainous and vibrantly green and lush coastline with picturesque views everywhere you look. Awwwweeee I wish I could just live in Cinque Terre…
The hike lasted about an hour an half and the entire way we had a view of the Mediterranean Sea as well as frequent views of the five cities. When we arrived to Monterosso our trail dropped us down to the coastline, and guess what? I touched the Mediterranean sea!! We had our swimsuits on, but because we were so awe stuck by Vernazza, we didn’t make it to our “swimming” destination in adequate time to actually swim…so we are leaving that to our time on the French Riviera.
I have only been backpacking for 4 days and both my pairs of shoes are completely trashed… All the walking, rain, and dirt are just too much to handle for my poor Toms and Gladiator shoes. I am going to have to find new ones ASAP to replace them so I don’t get athlete’s foot from walking in soggy insoles or trip myself on the detached front of my sandals. I will be sad to throw away my beloved Toms, but to look on the bright side I was getting a horrible tan from them anyways…
We trained in to Genova (Genoa) that evening and grabbed a hostel for the evening. It was the nicer than any hotel I have ever stayed in! Now that I look back, I wish I would of taken a picture of it to show everyone that hostels are not all sketchy dumps… I loved everything about it, if I ever go to Genova I am definitely staying there again!