Posts Tagged ‘ Italy

Cinque Terre: A Day Trip to the 5 Villages

“Go to Cinque Terre. It is the most romantic place on Earth,” I was told, repeatedly, by friends and colleagues. Even when I went to the bookstore while planning our trip, I picked up an Italy book, flipped it open and said “Cinque Terre – Best Time to Go: April”. All roads were leading to Cinque Terre, so I Googled and told the hubster. The next thing you know we’re on a train from Florence, with a transfer in Pisa, to a quick stop in La Spezia, before boarding a local train to Riomaggiore–the first of the five villages.

What is Cinque Terre? Well literally, it’s the “Five Lands” located on the coast of Italy that is part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not accessible by cars and was built on top of steep cliffs that overlook the sea. Picturesque for sure. Most stay a night or two, but decided to just make it a day trip and see what all the dreamy-eyed looks were about when people would describe this place.

The ride to Riomaggiore on the train was short. Through the tunnels we caught glimpses of the sea and knew we were in for a treat. But first we had to get past the hordes of high school students. Sadly we disembarked at the same village a few hundred students and their chaperons. Insert loud clambering Italian teenagers. Wait a while for them to a ramble past and then–there was the coast.

Cinque Terre

In Riomaggiore, the one thing I wanted to do was walk on Via dell Amore, the Lover’s Trail, because a friend had told me it was the most romantic hike ever. Yeah, I’ll give her that. It was gorgeous and every square foot of the path was covered in the graffiti of couples’ initials, poems, and declarations of affection. On the guard rail were locks that visitors left (throwing away the key), an expression of their love.

Cinque Terre

Yeah, this path was gushy but it’s Italy and we’re in Cinque Terre and you’re walking by the sea–does it get any better? I finally convince Ryan to put our names in stone and we take our time (mainly avoiding the crowds) walking on the path. A school teacher even offers to take our photo.

At the end of the path was Vernazza. A tiny village again beautifully placed atop cliffs. Here’s where my narrative drops off a bit and I’m going to rely on photos.

Cinque Terre - 19

Cinque Terre

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Cinque Terre

Rome: The Pantheon at Night

On our second night in Rome, Ryan and I went to hang out by the Trevi fountain after dinner and generally wander the streets. We were walking down an alley when we were struck by the sight of this:

Photo taken from my iPhone

“Well this is neat,” Ryan said as he took out his camera. “Um, I think we just found the Pantheon,” I said standing awestruck. “Neat,” he replied, walking away to take photos.

Now for some history. This building is astonishingly old. It was originally built as a temple for ancient Roman gods and commissioned by the Roman statesman and general Marcus Agrippa (63 BC – 12 BC). The inscription you see above reads, “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, having been consul three times, built it.” It was then rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD. It’s hard to fathom, say, a building that has been here for 20 centuries. And we would later return to see architecture from the inside and learn more, but here it was on our evening stroll.

Rome: La Pietà di Michelangelo

I’ve never thought much of sculpture, but the longer I stayed in Italy, the more I would. In fact, a recurring theme on our trip to Italy was experiencing the work of Michaelangelo. And one of the first pieces that struck me was The Pietà (1498–1499). Housed in in St Peter’s Basilica, it depicts Mary holding the body of Jesus after his crucifixion. At the age of 24, Michaelangelo carved this out of a single slab of Carrara marble in just 2 years. The actual piece is now raised and protected behind glass, due to an unfortunate incident in 1972 where someone mental tried attacking it with a hammer. But even from afar it was stunning. I still can’t wrap my head around how marble can be made to drape and flow. That said, I’ll leave the reflections on human suffering, mother/child, sweetness/sadness of the piece to you. In either case, è bella.

Roma – La Pietà di Michelangelo nella Basilica di San Pietro | by Luigi FDV

La Pieta – Close Up | by offshoot

Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.