Considering that Italy has been my first true international experience I have undergone a whirlwind of emotions while on this trip, and fortunately almost all of them have been positive. Some of my favorite moments have been the simple times, like when my friends and I went up to the park on the hill and I gazed out at the breathtaking view of the Arezzo countryside. It was so calming and I had a moment of “wow, you are really in Italy”, we all sat around drinking a glass of wine and just living in the moment. It was such a relaxed environment; we were surrounded by the sunset and everything in that moment was perfect. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Pomaio winery, I felt very mature, and it was a unique experience to experience firsthand the business process of a winery. For example, I had no idea it takes around seven years for wine owners to start receiving any real revenue, I cannot imagine how financially backed, or secure you must be to go into the wine industry without defaulting. Also, we just got back from our long weekend yesterday and that was an incredible experience. We stayed at a semi-traditional Airbnb in Marola, a suburb of La Spezia. Thanks to the poor timing of the train strikes we ended up going down to Porto Venere for the day (it would have been too expensive to taxi to Cinque Terre) and went off to the little beach of Palmaria. In a way, the train strikes were a hidden blessing, for if they had never occurred we would not have visited the quaint and beautiful Porto Venere, or enjoyed the solitude of the rocky beaches of Palmaria. The water was crystal clear, I would love to go back and trek around the island, for Porto Venere has an old-world charm, with stunning views of the sea.
Cinque Terre was a literal dream and exceeded my already high expectations, we visited three of the five lands: Riomaggiore, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. I found a really pretty scenic route around the town of Riomaggiore so we saw everything we could, and even took some unnecessarily steep stairs to visit castle ruins. We headed down to the Marina like trip advisor advised and they were not kidding when they said you could get a postcard picture of the town. Next, we headed to Monterosso to enjoy the beaches, the water was warm and since we were not in the peak of the high season the beach was filled with people, but it was not too crowded where we could not have fun, and it also started to clear out around four thirty. Finally, we headed to Vernazza, we were tired by the time we got there so we kind of just looked around ate some delicious gelato, and then we preceded to head home.