Finally Italy!

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Well, we finally made it to Italy and if I had to describe it in one word, I would choose green. My sweet friend, Mazzy, told me before we flew out that Italy is an incredibly lush country, and she could not have been more right about that! Nature pushed its way through every crack of every surface, carpeting concrete walkways and decorating centuries-old brick walls. I absolutely loved it. On our short, four day trip to Italy, we were able to see Genoa, Santa Margherita, Portofino, Vernazza, Manarola, and Pisa. WHEW!

Genoa

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View of Genoa from our Airbnb

Greg, Scott and I flew into Genoa on Thursday morning. We grabbed a ride with the chattiest taxi driver ever (who gave us some good advice on what to eat), and headed to our Airbnb, which was situated on top of one of Genoa’s massive hills and had amazing views of the city below. We explored Genoa a bit and then grabbed dinner at an okay restaurant. We were starving and it was the first place we saw. After dinner, we wandered around more, got drinks at a cool outdoor wine bar, and then headed back to the Airbnb for the night.

Santa Margherita and Portofino
On Friday, we slept in and then planned our day at a cute little cafe. Scott wanted to check out Portofino, a small fishing village on the Mediterranean coast, and just a half hour train ride from Genoa. So we grabbed a delicious lunch of focaccia pizza (which was amazing!) and headed out.

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Portofino

The train from Genoa takes you to Santa Margherita, where you can then catch a bus, ferry or taxi to Portofino. The ferry was done running for the day, unfortunately, and in some confusion, we missed the bus, so we took a taxi.

Portofino was tiny and beautiful. We got wine and snacks at an adorable waterside bar called Jolly and then ate some gelato and wandered through the village. There is a castle way high up on a hill, and we thought ‘hey, that doesn’t look too far away, let’s go there.’ But HOLY BUCKETS, was that a strenuous walk! Up and down, up and down, up and down we went, only to find the castle was closed. So, back up and down, up and down, up and down we went until we stumbled upon a light house offering amazing views of the village and the Mediterranean. So, while our legs were basically rubber by the time we caught a bus back to Santa Margherita, our hike was definitely worth it.

Once we got back to Genoa for the night, we got dinner in a tiny restaurant. The menu was in only Italian (unlike menus we saw everywhere else) and our waitress didn’t speak English. So, we completely guessed at what we were ordering, and were all pleasantly surprised. We each got a delicious pasta dish, and I think it was the best restaurant we ate at our entire trip!

Pisa

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Pisa Cathedral with the Leaning Tower peeking out from behind

On Saturday, we woke up bright and early to catch a 2.5 hour train to Pisa. We settled into our Airbnb (which had a view of the Leaning Tower from its balcony!!) and then went off to explore. First stop, the Leaning Tower. We gazed up in wonder, took pictures of people posing for forced perspective photos with it, and then got pizza at a nearby restaurant. After lunch, we explored around the Tower a little more. We went into the Cathedral and the Baptistery and then lounged in the Field of Miracles before heading off to explore the less touristy parts of Pisa.

We got dinner at a pretty cool restaurant we just happened upon. We were given glasses of prosecco on arrival, along with an additional appetizer! Living the good life! After dinner, we headed back to the Airbnb. Pisa celebrates its own New Year (along with the one on January 1st), and Saturday happened to be the first day of their New Year! So, as we relaxed in our Airbnb, Greg suddenly turned the TV off and rushed to the balcony. Fireworks were going off right next to the Leaning Tower, and we could see if perfectly from our balcony. It was so cool!

Cinque Terre
On our last day in Italy, we decided to explore the Cinque Terre region. The Cinque Terre is a grouping of five tiny fishing villages right on the Mediterranean coast. You can hike a trail between all five, or take a train if you’ve already walked a ridiculous amount and are lazy like us 🙂 We didn’t have time to see all five, so we picked two right in the middle: Vernazza and Manarola.

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Vernazza from inside an old castle spire.

Vernazza was gorgeous. Simply stunning. I have never seen a place so beautiful. And the weather was perfect! We wandered around, took tons of pictures, and then made our way up to a cliff-side restaurant for lunch. I had best pesto I’ve ever had in my life! Days later, I’m still thinking about it. Ugh. So good!

After lunch, we headed to Manarola. Unfortunately, the weather turned, and it started to pour the minute we got there. We ducked into a cute little cafe, ordered cappuccinos and tried to wait out the rain. After a while, we tired of sitting inside, so we decided to explore Manarola anyway, rain or no. We got drenched, but Manarola was still so beautiful to see! We ended up heading back to the same cafe (this time for local wine and limoncello), and then made our way back to Pisa.

Italy was just as perfect as I thought it would be, and I certainly want to go back again. And, Greg and I had a lot of fun exploring it with Scott! His stay with us went by so quickly, but it was so great to see him.

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Greg and Scott at lunch in Vernazza. Look at those two!

Tomorrow, we’re flying out to Paris to meet my parents on their European vacation!

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