I have been lucky enough to visit the majestic country of Italy 3 times now, and it still remains top 3 favorite countries; If ever we can't decide where we want to go (gee, rough life right?), Italy will be our go to. The food, wine, and the culture that embodies it is truly one of a kind. Not to mention the language is beautiful and the people are so passionate - they put their soul into everything they do.
My husband, being half Italian, has bread and wine naturally running in his veins, so he was itching to go back. I, on the other hand, though not Italian, will drop everything to spend a weekend where I can have delicious cappuccinos and pastries for breakfast, pasta for lunch and dinner, all while consuming all the aperol spritz's and red wine in sight and not feel even a little bit bad about it.
We decided Cinque Terre would be our next target city(s) to explore. We booked a place in Riomaggiore, the second to last town of the 5 cities.
Highly recommend choosing here between the 5 cities because we found it was the least crowded and the most fun to explore. Every little street and corner had something unique and lovely about it.
Each city is unique in its own way. Definitely get the train that run between all of them so you can see yourself. If you have the time, you can also hike in between each one and really earn your carbs! We didn't do that this time because some of the trail was blocked off.
We ate in Manarola at this restaurant, which has the most epic, quintessential view of the city. We spent a good 2 hours here. You can understand why:
After we explored a few cities, we wrapped up the day wandering the cliffs at sunset around Riomaggiore, which shouldn't go ignored. Be sure to look the opposite direction of the colorful cliff side houses for a different perspective. The fact that these houses can sit on this landform is remarkable.
Since we were flying out of Pisa, we decided to leave Riomaggiore the next morning and check out a little city called Lucca. But first, cappuccinos, at the prettiest little cafe on top of the hill:
Lucca is known for its well-kept Renaissance walls that boarder the entire city center. It's a lesser known city in the Tuscany region, which is more of a reason why it should be added to your Italian itinerary.
The tan and beige tones of this city created an inviting sense of warmth. The history, like any city in Europe, is awe-inspiring and extensive. It's small enough to walk or cycle the whole center, and you can actually find cafes and restaurants where the locals and owners barely speak English. That's when you know the food is going to be REALLY good and the experience just feels more authentic.
My best advice to see Lucca is just walk! There's a path that circles the city center, or you can get lost down the narrow streets of shops and wine bars. To catch some epic lighting, start exploring just after sunrise:
I also recommend going up Guinigi Tower. There's a garden on the roof, the inside is eerie and ancient, and there's an amazing view at the top!
If the photos don't say enough, just take my word and stop by Lucca on your way through Tuscany area, even if it's for a few hours! It was a perfect escape from the crowds and is just an all-around lovely city. I honestly wish I took more photos of the food we ate, but when those plates of gold get put in front of me, snapping a pic is the last thing I'm thinking about.
Italy remains one of my favorite European countries. If you're lucky enough to go, make sure you spend some quality time there. European culture in general, but especially Italian culture really values passion and intension behind everything that they do. In other words, don't rush! Make time to see the tourist sights but set aside a couple hours at a restaurant or a wine bar overlooking the Mediterranean. Don't get upset when your main meal doesn't come right after your Antipasta dish. Take a deep breath an sip that Chanti.
Behind the Lens
1. It's really hot! Even in October! Be prepared to walk (on a steep incline) and drinks lots of water. A flowy dress and sneakers actually worked quite well.
2. Again with the crowds. Be mindful of this when taking the train in between the cities. We really thought October would slow down the tourists, but turns out everyone had that idea; It was packed! I recommend doing all of your wandering early in the morning, then pick a nice restaurant to chill at for a couple hours mid-day when everyone is coming out.
3. Make reservations whenever you can.
Where to next?