Italy and Switzerland

May 2008

Cinque Terre

On Monday, May 19th we tried to buy a 1st class train ticket in Florence, but there were none available.  We had to change trains twice to get to our destination of Vernazza in the Cinque Terre.  The first train, from Florence to Pisa, had many people standing, but we had seats as we arrived at the station early.  Traveling 2nd class is not the same great experience as a 1st class ticket, but the trains are still on time and the countryside is just as pretty.  From Pisa we went to La Spezia, and we were in a car with a group of women from New Zealand who were on an extended visit to Italy.  They were very interesting and wanted to know who we supported in the next presidential election.  We were happy to talk politics with them.  The train stopped in the town of Carrara, and we had views of the mountains where they still extract marble.  Michelangelo used the marble from Carrara for his sculptures centuries ago.  We arrived in Vernazza just before 2 o’clock in the afternoon and found Jeff and Sarah sitting in the square in front of their hotel.  We had lunch with them and celebrated their 2nd wedding anniversary, which is today.  Sarah and Chris have their Blackberries with them, so we knew when to go to the train station to meet Chris, Anne and Henry just before 3:30.  It started pouring just as their train came in and rained off and on for the rest of the day.  Henry loves the train (choo-choo) and wants to go watch it all the time.  He’s not on local time yet and they’ve spent two nights in Paris and one in Geneva so far.  Jeff and Sarah flew into Milan and took the train to Vernazza.  The seven of us had dinner together tonight.  Tuesday, May 20th, started again as an overcast day and it began raining while we were having breakfast.  By mid-morning it was nice, so we took the train to Manarola to do the easy hike from there to Riomaggiore.  The scenery was spectacular between the two towns.  The hike out of Riomaggiore is tougher, so we split up and the kids did some hiking while we had lunch and took the train back to Vernazza.  Henry slept well last night, so hopefully he is on a good schedule now.  He’s very happy watching for trains, cats, and dogs and eating gelato now and then.  Later in the afternoon Jay hiked up the path to look down on Vernazza, which many consider to be the prettiest town in the Cinque Terre.  He took some great photos while Barbara worked on the blog.  It’s about 225 stairs up the path and the same number down, so it’s a bit of a workout for us old fogies.  It was fortunate that we practiced on the hills of Siena and San Gimignano, as the the Cinque Terre area is even steeper.   We have another family dinner planned for tonight and we anticipate more adventures in this area for the next two days.  Our pace has slowed down, and we are walking about half the miles we did in Milan and Florence.

Carrara - where Michelangelo got his marble



Henry and Bapa

Henry and Bapa

Dinner at Trattoria da Sandro

Vernazza church at night

The Cinque Terre

Henry looking for cats

Staying dry

On the train to Manarola


Walk from Manarola to Riomaggiore

Walk from Manarola to Riomaggiore

Easy Rider


Vernazza vineyards

Path from Vernazza to Monterossa

© Jay 2020