Basil and Beach Towns

I personally love small towns filled with character. They’re just fun to go around and take in and take pictures of. Three days in Cinque Terre gave me my fill of colorful houses, italian nonnas, and enough sunshine to keep in my pocket for those cloudy days.

So after Rome, we took the train (or trains) to Cinque Terre. Note that it took us four trains just to get to the village we were staying in. Imagine changing trains and platforms and all that while lugging around heavy things. I don’t feel stronger, but I am tired.

Our first day was just spent exploring the little village we were staying in: Riomaggiore. There are a total of five villages (hence the name Cinque Terre) and walking around these villages require a certain kind of mentality. A mentality that will get you through walking up and down winding roads and steep stairs. It’s leg day, all day, everyday, so be just be prepared for that. But hey, if ever you get tired, you can just do as the Italian nonnas do and sit down on one of the many benches and just people(/tourist) watch.

Day 2 was spent in the village of Manarola, just one 2-minute train ride away. Now Cinque Terre is in the province of Liguria, which is the region of the birthplacce of pesto. So naturally, I had made sure to book a pesto-making course in this cute little restaurant called Nessun Dorma, where you learn how to make pesto the traditional way. I absolutely love pesto, so this whole thing got me way too excited. The owner and course instructor really values the ingredients used in making pesto and I appreciate that. Mind you, if you go through this course, y’all better do it right ’cause man, that’s a whole lotta pressure on you to make good pesto. You got hella fresh ingredients, from the basil of Liguria to parmigiano reggiano, and of course, you can’t forget the pine nuts from Pisa. It’s a waste not do this right.

The view you get from the restaurant is also noteworthy, because it is the view. The one you get when you google Cinque Terre. You know how when you google a place, different pictures from the same perspective always come up? For Cinque Terre, that picture comes from the view you get from Nessun Dorma. So book a table at sunset and watch Manarola come to life.

Real quick, I just need to mention the dinner we had. In each city we visit, my dad and I had planned one special dinner, and for Cinque Terre, we ate in Trattoria dal Billy. Food. Was. Excellent. It’s like, I ate so much carbs and I am getting fat hut I don’t really care (for now) because the food was great. The whole town of Cinque Terre is known for fresh seafood (being a seaside town, I should really hope so). Billy’s black pasta with seafood was particularly noteworthy, as well as the seafood started sampler thing. We asked one guy who seemed like the owner if he was Billy. He said no and then winked at us. So. I don’t know.

Our last full day was spent in the last two villages, Vernazza and Monterosso. While Vernazza looked similar to the first two, Monterosso was a different playing field. Can you say beach town?!?

Monterosso had a beach lined with umbrellas and sunbathing chairs and old italian men in speedos. People are just walking around half naked and in swimsuits all the live long day. It’s raining back home in the Philippines (or at least it was when I left) and this was all a bit surreal for me. Summer has not yet left Italy. And there I was, dreaming of being beach baby, taking it all in. I am already significantly more tan then I was when I arrived, but I wouldn’t mind laying out on a beach under the sun for bit. I mean, who would? The village itself is pretty interesting, as the streets are lined with quaint little shops and small restaurants (get the focaccia. Like, anywhere)

Of course, a trip wouldn’t be complete without the iconic Manarola sunset shot, so we backtracked to Manarola and waited for the sun to go down. If ever you plan on doing the same thing, make sure to go a bit earlier to get a good spot. When we got there, quite a few people arleady had their tripods and lenses and remotes all set up, so it was tough to get a spot, and to keep it.

All in all, Cinque Terre was a great, chill, stop. The locals here live such a relaxed lifestyle of sunbathing, lunching on their balconies and terraces, and buying fruits and deli meats from the local coops. Seems like a good place to retire to be honest. I’m far from it, but you know. It’s nice to know I have options. I’m in it for the character of the town.

Anyway, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, and I’m feeling good. The Italian sunshine gives one a different kinda glow.

Thanks for sticking with me!

‘Til Florence!


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