Take The Recommendations

Monday I began my literary podcast through Italy, starting at Lake Como and continuing to Venice on Tuesday, which leads us to today, Cinque Terre.  Rather.  I thought it did.  But I realized that I have another story to tell first.  The meat of Cinque Terre will have to wait until tomorrow.

Where we stayed:

We booked our airbnb in La Spezia because it was cheaper than staying in Cinque Terre and was walking distance to the train that connected to each of the cities.

This was hands-down our favorite accommodations of the trip.  The apartment, in reality, was just decent.  A bit small for our group and not in any really desirable location.  However, the host was amazing.  She spent a solid 15 minutes with us and her binder of local information.  Literally every success we had during our time there we accredit to her.  If you are looking for a place to stay in Cinque Terres, stay here.

What we did:

Arriving after a long morning of traipsing through Venice, we wanted to do something but it mostly needed to involve food.  Our host had highly recommended the sunset views of Portovenere, just down the coast from us, so we decided to grab pizza to go from a place in her binder.

I’m going to try to paint the picture for you of the absolute joy that Portovenere is at sunset but I know that by telling you this story, I’m taking the joy from you because the happiest part of it all was how unexpected it was.  But, it’s one of my favorite memories of the whole trip, so I have to tell you.

So we got pizza to go and decided to eat it on the coast.  We drove to the point on the map, piled out of a very small parking spot in a tight little garage, and drug our box of pizza out into the waning sun in search of the sea.

We stepped into this view:

Portovenere at sunset.

But the sea was so far away so we kept walking.  The waves crashed across the bay and we knew we were getting closer.  We could eat here at these benches, but we didn’t see the sun yet, so we kept going.

Sunset reflecting.

Around the corner to this:

Church of Saint Peter

Unexpected and increasingly windy, we raced on, toward the sinking sun.  I say raced because we really were running by this point, knowing we were minutes and moments from the sun sinking from sight.  I stopped at a window in the stone wall and was stuck.

This view surprised me.

And I stayed here, fighting the wind in my hair and eyes, soaking it in.

Wind whipped and happy.


I eventually peeled myself from the stone window and explored higher, up into the church roof, smiling all the while.

Stone stairs to the roof.

Subplot: As we raced about, thrashed by the wind and blown away by the sun, my sister Vanessa carried the pizza box, annoyed beyond description that we weren’t eating.

Once the sun had disappeared from sight and she had decided we could wait no longer, she headed back to the bay to find a bench to sit and eat.  I was walking up from a distance and had the perfect view to the following scene.  Just as she went to take her first bite of pizza, a one legged seagull swooped in and pecked a bite from the other side of the slice in her mouth.  I yelped and she jumped up, startled.  All a bundle of nerves she proclaimed that the pizza was too cold by now to eat anyways so we marched back to the car in search of our apartment microwave.

I snapped this photo of the skinny homes on our way out.


And that is my favorite memory of Europe.  The three weeks of driving and flying, of planning and decision making and podcasts in the car and dragging suitcases up stairs, my favorite part of all was sharing this moment with my siblings.

Oh, what a happy thing to be surprised by places.

Holding our hair and skirts from the wind atop the church roof.

This was country 5 of our 6 country Euro Trip.  To read a summary of the trip, click here.

Country 2: Austria, read here and here.

Country 4: Switzerland, click here and here.


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