It was early and my sleeping body rocked to the gentle sway of a bus en route to a destination envious to any normal human: Cinque Terre. However, the increasingly loud lullaby of rainfall on the roof woke me up and an unavoidable sense of “Oh, no” fell to my stomach. No one vocalized the dread and chose to pretend to sleep or to watch the passing scenery.
Soon enough the group was packed on a train departing from La Spezia to the second of Cinque Terre’s five towns, Manarola. We all trekked up the steep rolling hills until a massive and beautiful church showed its face to us. The church of San Lorenzo and its accompanying bell tower stood high on the hillside and instantly dissolved any worry of moody weather. The choppy waves crashed against rock creating stark contrasts with the perfect blue of the water.
Cats also scampered around the area and to any that are slightly aware of my personality, it’s obvious this enhanced my experience. Destined to become a cat-lady, the fact that these damp felines likely carried a strain of some disease mattered not.
After a session of cat petting and picture taking, we were off to our next stop and the fourth of five towns, Vernazza. I strolled through the tunnel on the way to the train stop and past a man heaving away on an accordion.
For a man likely surviving on tourist tips, he surprisingly resembled Clark Gable and our eye contact made me feel like this song was just for me. But the wave of foolishness passed quickly and I didn’t drop any tip. I have a boyfriend, student loans and I don’t even like the accordion. It just wasn’t in the cards for us, Clark.
The rain had been sprinkling us off and on but Vernazza was still beautiful. The town etched low into the side of the hills allows its visitors to hang out and watch massive waves crest over towering black rocks. I imagine myself as Ariel the mermaid being glamorous and singing a Disney hit. I also imagine myself falling to an imminent death and/or being taken by a beefy undertow in this tricky weather. Maybe another day.
The group took a break to eat some pizza and gelato before beginning our next adventure. Many hiking trails and parts of towns have fallen victim to recent mudslides but the amazing hour and a half-long hike from Vernazza to the final town of Monterosso al Mare was open.
The initial entrance of the trail is narrow and somewhat hidden between buildings. The climb is straight up and can make anyone realize that all of that pasta they’ve been eating in Italy was real and their behind may or may not hate them for it.
The view from this trail was absolutely breath-taking. We were all frozen in awe at the image of the pastel yellow, orange and pink colored shops and houses against the jagged dark rock bordering pure blue waters. The gray clouds of the day threw a unique light over the land giving them another type of beauty usually reserved for Instagram filters.
The train from the fourth to the fifth town takes about five minutes. But looking at the scenery as we climbed on narrow rock pathways under trees, over water runoff paths, it was impossible to see why anyone would choose otherwise.
After finally emerging in Monterosso, we had time to relax before catching the train back to the station. Once the group was gathered we piled back onto the bus and into our comfy seats. As we drove away it was obvious how little the rain had mattered and how natural beauty can easily overpower the rain.
As corny as it sounds, a legitimate rainbow formed as our bus departed from La Spezia and back to Florence. Cinque Terre was awesome and the trip had an ending so perfect an audience could be cued to awe and applaud as a small orchestra of flutes triggered the display of crew credits.
Bus2alps is a student travel agency that offers day trips to Cinque Terre from mid-March until mid-October. For more information on schedules, itineraries and rates please click here.