Cinque Terra (May 19 and 20)

May 19, 2013

Today we got up early AGAIN to hike the Cinque Terra… and when I say early I mean five in the morning. The five little towns that make up Cinque Terra are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.  We took the train and got off at the first little sea town, Riomaggiore. The lady at the travel office said that all of the trails were closed. Bummer! We thought we’d just take the little train from town to town and explore there instead of hiking. We were looking at the cute little lover’s locks on Riomaggiore when it started to rain! After a little sip of coffee in a cute little café to wait out the rainstorm, we continued exploring the first town. We started exploring a path that led up into a little vineyard. We went up… and up… and up… and up… and realized after about 45 minutes that we were probably on a trail. We met some other people hiking and they said it was probably another hour and half to the next town. Thus begins our accidental twelve mile hike on the expert trail. It turned out great. We probably hiked about ten miles because we ended up getting lost once in between the second and third towns and decided, once we found out way, that we should take a break from hiking and eat our packed lunches for a minute. We started hiking again at the fourth town, Vernazza, and got to Monterosso with just ten minutes left to catch the train back to Reggio. Whew! What a day! I can’t even explain the beauty of this rocky sea country. It was absolutely beautiful. Pictures can do better than my words, but even pictures can’t do this magnificent place justice. This was my favorite journey so far. I love being outside and exploring. We kept running into other Americans and lots of college kids because this is a big touristy spot, especially for Americans. I liked Vernazza the best. It was not as touristy as Monterosso and had a beautiful old church right on the edge of the water. I wish we had some extra time to explore the little towns because each one has some pretty unique things to offer. One is supposed to be the birth place of pesto. Monterosso is known for it’s lemons. Others are known for olive oil and wine. The terraced hills are really interesting. Along our hike we saw people working in their vineyards and we saw the old fashioned rails that the farmers use to transfer goods up and down the mountains. It was so picturesque and perfect. I really want to go back to that place again, only for a few days. It would be a great place to rest and relax and revel in the juxtaposition of the majestic mountains with the mighty sea.

Some pictures from Cinque Terra!

IMG_7063 IMG_7039 IMG_7059 IMG_7058 IMG_7056 IMG_7052 IMG_7065 IMG_7061 

May 20, 2013

After our amazing hike in Cinque Terra yesterday, I did NOT want to get up for language lessons today. I’m happy we are taking them because I do think it’s useful… BUT we’re only here for three weeks so nothing is really going to stick. Anyways, today we had language lessons in the morning and then went to visit Marco Gerra, a true Reggio Preschool. Marco Gerra was a famous artist from the area and donated a lot of time, money, and art to the education programs in Reggio. His influence clearly resonated through the school that bears his name. I loved the building! Everything was designed to represent movement to symbolize that schools are always changing. Later, my host mom and dad took us shoe shopping. That was cool because we got to see another part of town and see where the people of Reggio go to shop. On our walks, we’ve only seen the unique little stores in the city center so it was interesting to see the supermarkets, superstores, and malls that are a lot like what we have the U.S., just a littleeee smaller.  After that, we went to soccer practice with our Chiara’s women’s team. Giordano, the “dad,” is the team’s coach. How cute! I loved playing soccer with those girls. They were all so good! I am so thankful that I have some athletic ability! I love the way that smiles and sports can so easily cross language barriers. I had NO idea what the girls were saying, but I could share in the high fives and the groans.