Cinque Terre, etc.

Before I start in on my favorite place on the earth, I forgot something in my last post!! On our last day in Sicily, in Palermo, we visited this crypt and I was scared out of my mind as we walked through a maze of dead bodies. I saw dead people. Real dead people (I guess they’re still real even if they’re no longer living?) Someone somewhere along the way decided it’d be neat to just lay or hang bodies on display after they pass away, allowing family, friends, and unsuspecting travelers to walk on through and check out their rotting flesh. I can now check “see rotting flesh” off my bucket list…it wasn’t on my list in the first place, but hey, adventure, am I right? Billy thought it would be cool to walk up behind me and scare me and make me jump about 10 feet in the air. I suppose looking back now, it was pretty funny. I don’t think I will visit that crypt again. Any who, my apologies for leaving out this engrossing tale from my Sicily post! I know you were all DYING to know about that particular adventure 🙂

Let’s move on to less morbid matters, shall we? The past few days have been a whirlwind (seems to be a recurring theme, but I’m rolling with it)! After returning from Sicily, we had a quick turnaround and left the next day for Cinque Terre. The name literally translates to “five earths”, representing the five villages that make up this little piece of paradise. After settling into my home for the 2 day-stay, I took a gander at what the town of Vernazza had to offer. For only having one main road, this small town had plenty to offer! I walked in and out of almost every shop, finding something I talked myself out of buying in most of them. After getting my bearings and enjoying the view of the spectacularly blue water, the group ate dinner at Sandro’s, a restaurant Robbie has taken groups to for years now. Naturally, we sat down and started dinner off by singing a hymn for the owners of the restaurant. Then came the food. Pasta appetizer, calamari and squid tentacles for the main course, and an almond sponge cake for dessert. Mamma mia, I thought they’d have to roll me out of the place! We had a devo following dinner on some rocks on the shore of the sea, I dropped my shoe in the water (of course, what even is coordination?) but Robbie came to the rescue and fetched it for me! Some fellow travelers joined us in our singing, and the moment is simply indescribable. It is quite the blessing to be able to worship God with such a great group of people in another country on the shore of a sea, but it made it even more special to share that opportunity with fellow believers.

The next day, we took a train to Monarola, another of the “5 earths” where I 100% fell in love with Cinque Terre and determined to return one day. I was in awe of the beauty and quaintness of the town, and the view was like none other. After soaking in the view for a while, we took a boat to another of the villages, Monterosso, where I indulged in some straciatella and mixed berry gelato and proceeded to set up shop on the beach. If you know me, you know that a lounge chair, the sunshine, and the sound of the waves make for my perfect day, and it was. I enjoyed a lunch of wings and fries, and soaked up as much Cinque Terre sun as I could! I strolled through the town shops and bought the things I simply couldn’t live without before returning to Vernazza, shopping some more :), and getting ready for what would come to be the best meal I have had in Italy. Katie, Alyssa, and I had noticed the day before that there was a restaurant up on the edge of the hill overlooking the water, so we made the incredible trek to check it out. We ate Pasta al Castello, a penne pasta with a creamy tomato basil sauce. We decided since we’d made the trek, we should get dessert too, so we checked out the numerous options of the daily specials dessert trolley. I went with a chocolate pear cake, while they went with tiramisu and meringue. After dessert, we topped it off with tea time as we watched the sunset. Then ensued a trek down the hill, through the main street, and up another hill to an ATM, then back down that hill, through the town, and up the hill to the restaurant to pay the nicest woman I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, who told us it is important that we eat at their restaurant and pay later when we can. She told us stories of travelers who would return to the States before paying, and she has never lost any money. Wow. If that doesn’t tell you of the magnificent dining experience we had, I don’t know what will. Stuffed and happy as can be, Katie, Alyssa, and I enjoyed our last evening in Vernazza before turning in early and preparing for the next day’s adventures.

We went to the town of Pietrasanta from Cinque Terre and had the pleasure of visiting a marble workshop. The town is situated near a marble quarry, and from our visit, I can tell you 2 things. One, I stole a little piece of marble, oops. Two, marble sculpture sculpting is not all it’s cracked up to be. I suppose I pictured MIchelangelo living the dream, posted up in an indoor shop with some nice A/C and Mumford and Sons music setting the mood for a nice day of polishing a masterpiece. The reality is that there are tons of artists, each with their own garage, shack-type getup, chiseling and polishing their works in blistering heat. It was neat to get to see the behind the scenes work that goes into their art.

We returned to the villa for a couple of hours before boarding a bus to the Pistoia Blues Music Festival for an exhilarating night listening to Mumford and Sons. They have voices of angels. I tried the whole standing in the mosh pit type area, but for some reason, my usual excitement for being very short and surrounded by tall, sweaty, drunk, high Italians just wasn’t there, so I enjoyed the concert from a much more spacious, breezy back corner of the square. And I loved every minute of it! It’s safe to say that it was a late night for all, and we came back and crashed. Now it’s time to try to play catch up on school work and sleep before jetting off for free travel in a mere FOUR DAYS!!!!!

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