by Melinda Gallo

Short visit to the Cinque Terre

Our first trip outside of Florence began early in the morning. We went to Monterosso, the farthest north town in the Cinque Terre on the Ligurian coast. Dave and I haven't been out of Florence since we moved here last November. We couldn't wait to go.

We took a taxi to pick up my sister and her family at the apartment they've been renting in the old center of town. We got to the taxi stand at the end of Piazza Santa Croce and there was only one taxi, but the driver was asleep. As we got closer, another taxi arrived. I approached his window and asked him if his car could fit two more adults and a 6-year-old. "Nelle braccia di qualcuno, sì," (In the arms of someone, yes) he said. It was a good excuse not to take the sleepy driver in the other taxi.

We arrived early at the station even though most trains are late. Our train wasn't very full, we had the whole car to ourselves. We changed trains in La Spezia, which was right in front of the one we got off at, to go to Monterosso. Right before Riomaggiore, the first town in the Cinque Terre, the train goes through a set of tunnels and arrives alongside the coast. With each glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea, people were oohing and aahing.

The train stopped in each town in the Cinque Terre and we got off at Monterosso, which is the biggest of the five towns. We exited the station and found ourselves on a street above the beach. The view, the air, and the sound of the water crashing against the beach made us feel like we had just arrived in another world. No cars (except for one taxi), no scooters, and not that many people. Everyone was enjoying the sun everywhere: on the beach, on benches along the sidewalk, on the terraces of bars and restaurants, and just standing still looking out to the sea.

The weather was fantastic, probably mid 70's with a light wind. Many tourists walking on the paths: some people were out for the day, others were out walking from town to town with what looked like cross-country ski poles, and a few others just walking around leisurely, enjoying each step.

We dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed for lunch. We sat on the terrace of a restaurant in front of the town church, eating delicious pasta with fresh seafood, sipping local red wine, and watching people walk by. The joys I have come to cherish in Italy.

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