I was born in Italy and lived there for the first 7 years or so of life. Obviously, it will always have a tender and warm place in my heart:) But that doesn’t stop me from recognizing things that drive me crazy about the country either!! 😉
First I will start with the positive: Italians in my opinion have mastered the art of enjoying life! From the meals with friends that take hours (and almost always several courses) to complete then always end with a shot of liquor, then an espresso, followed by another shot and another espresso, lol!! They really have a passion for life and the enjoyment for it! They don’t really have personal space, which for some is really hard to accept, and they express themselves very passionately with their body language. This is another aspect that is hard for non-italians as while it looks from an outsiders perspective that a fight is going on (from their flailing arms and raised voices) they are simply discussing the weather!! Lol!!
The driving in the country makes me absolutely crazy, as in my opinion all drivers in Italy are absolutely crazy!! The country is so diverse for being so small and each section has a very strong and individual culture (sometimes to a fault as there are many rivalries between regions that sometimes break out in violence which again speaks to a different kind of passion). I do love the country and of course recommend it to all travelers! However, do be aware of petty thieves and pickpockets… They are quite talented in Italy!! That’s all for now- enjoy my most recent experiences in Italy:)
Oh and by the way- Ice cream and gelato are NOT the same thing… Gelato is to die for whereas ice cream I could pass on:)
Cinque Terre in Italian literally means the 5 lands. The 5 lands in this case is made of 5 villages on the Tuscan Mediterranean coast including, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Monterosso al Mare is the northernmost village, and the Riomaggiore the southernmost. In the summer time these spots are quite a popular vacation destination, and from the few pictures I’ve included, it’s easy to see why!!
My dad and I drove there on a sunny late-summer day through the windy roads and arrived in Vernazza, #4 village of 5…
Seriously I will put this out that if you get car sick easily, you may want to consider taking a train into any of the villages of Cinque Terre… Because those roads are seriously no joke!! It’s really amazing that there is even a road to begin with that connect each village, as I’m sure that they started as simply foot paths then expanded to allow cars! Mind you, they haven’t really expanded that much… The roads are barely wide enough for 2 cars, and of course Italians speed around the blind corners of the really windy and narrow roads as if they could see the other side…
Since I’m on the topic a little, I’ve just got to vent for a few seconds that Italian drivers area absolutely NUTS!!! I’m not even being prejudice in that statement because I include my father in there too, lol!! And he knows about it, lol!! But seriously, anyone who has ever been to Italy knows exactly what I’m talking about! If there is an inch of space, it will be taken by a car or Vespa or bus!! It amazes me how there aren’t more traffic accidents than there are!! They are all crazy drivers yet somehow it just works out!! It’s beyond me how, but it does! My only saving grace on this trip was the absolutely stunning views around each and every terrifying corner!! Simply beautiful and amazing!!
Sorry for the tangent! Back on course here: We arrived in Vernazza about mid-morning, parked the car in the lot outside the village and walked down to the village for some exploring. Now, this area of Italy is sometimes quite prone to dangerous and damaging floods. Everything is literally built on the edge of the mountain that dives into the Sea, so when the floods come, it leaves lots of damage in the wake. About 2 or 3 years ago a flood had happened in the Cinque Terre area and in fact as we walked down the road to the Village, you could still see evidence of the damage it did years ago.
We wandered around the village, spotted a cave that led to a little beach that is only visible (and passable) when the tide is down, wandered up to the church and tower at the top of the village, then had some lunch at one of the restaurants with a view of the water:) The region of the 5 lands is in Liguria, which is famous for its pesto sauce!! Yum!!! In addition, Liguria is also known for a special shape pasta called Trofie, which is a hand rolled pasta made from pieces of dough that are twisted together. So “when in Rome” I of course had to have a plate of Trofie al pesto!! It was quite delicious and hard to stop eating until of course the plate went empty… So I had to stop, lol!! We wandered a bit more, had a gelato then headed back to the car for Portovenere.
Oh, before I leave this section- for those into hiking, there is actually a pedestrian trail that goes from the first village to the last!! It is quite a long hike though (remember to calculate in stop times to take a gazillion picts!) and the terrain has lots of ups and downs (literally)!! It would probably take all day to walk one to the next, but I imagine it would be well worth it for the views alone!!