Wednesday, September 17, 2008

oh, how we loooooved this place

cinque terre turned out to be one of our very favorite parts of our whole trip. it was AMAZING. here is why: cinque terre is a series of 5 small villages built right on the coast. these villages are so small that there are no cars- which, if you think about it, seriously limits what you can do in a town. the houses are built into the cliffs so everywhere you go, you climb staircase after staircase to get there. the sand is emerald green, the beaches require little-to-no swimsuits and the people are all so happy.

we took a litle train from pisa to the last of the 5 towns and set out to find a place to stay. this was impossible because we had no reservations and august is the peak of high season traveling for europeans- plus the towns are so small, you can only cram so many people in one closet. after much sweating and searching, we finally found a nice place to stay right in monterosso. we ate pizza on the beach and just spent the night soaking it all in and preparing for our hike the next day.
the hike of cinque terre takes you through all 5 villages, and it's not the easiest hike- as it is full of stairs and switchbacks that take you up one mountain and down another..repeat, repeat. the guide book says that a fast hike from beginning to end without stopping would take about 5 hours; however, knowing that we wanted to stop, swim, eat and enjoy each little town, cade and i planned out an entire day for the hike. we were glad we did!

the path was narrow and full of carved steps that had to have been carved by hand. nothing seems to be done by machine in this place. every once in a while little doors or small gardens and grape vinyards of the locals would be on the paths. it just seems frozen in time.

the trail was also interesting because it would take you into the trees and then jut out over the ocean so you are literally walking on the cliffs edge and have sights like this.

don't judge my headband. it was sooo hot that day and the only words i heard that whole morning as i was getting ready were my mom's cautions about my hair bleaching out in the sun. thus- the band.
anyway, the hike was going well and we were meeting people from all over the world on our way. as we made our way through, we decided to stop for a swim in vernazza in an attempt to combat the ridiculous amounts of sweat we were experiencing. this decision almost proved to be our demise....
we headed out to these lovely rocks you see below. there were other swimmers with their towels laid out and all their gear settled on the rocks so we thought it would be a nice little hang out for us.

plus-it was the perfect spot to dive into the water.

or lounge in the warming sun.

there was, however, one slight problem with the rocks.... after the swim, we decided to get our stuff together and get back to the trail. as you can see, cade was loving his life on his little rock, so instead of making him get up to put his clothes on, i figured i would just pass him his shirt and shorts. as i grabbed his shirt from a nearby rock, we both watched in horror as his glasses slipped off the top of the shirt and slid down a hole in the rocks -plop- right into the water somewhere underneath us.
my heart sank.
cade doesn't wear contacts and this was the only pair of specs he had on the trip. there was no way we were going to find those glasses. no way.
cade, always seemingly unaffected by bad situations, thought for a moment and then started climbing over rocks to ask a little girl if he could borrow her goggles. i had no idea how he was going to get down that deep or through one of the crevices, but sure enough, a few moments later, cade had somehow wiggled his way into the smallest little hole in the rocks near the disaster area. once his head disappeared under the rocks, i realized that he probably couldn't breathe and i started to panic, but i heard his voice down somewhere and the sputtering of water. he tried diving down a few times but it was dark and probably pretty dangerous. we didn't think there was even a chance...but as he was thinking there, he started to search out with his feet in the place he was standing, and by some miracle....there were his glasses. unreal. i've said it before and i'll say it again- cade's luck is insane.

some may call this luck, but i like to think it is because i was so worried, i was literally praying out loud as we were searching for them.
cade finally came out of the small hole alive- but full of scratches, bruises and even a big cut on his foot. what a hero.

despite his injuries, we trekked on. some parts of the trail were more modern...

and most, not so modern.

in manarola we went swimming again, carefully putting the glasses in cade's shoe. this place was a blast. there were lots of little cliff sides to jump off of and cade loved practicing his dives. a bunch of native kids were doing all sorts of tricks and cool dives off the cliffs.... which made my scream and awkward splash look ever-so-graceful, but we had a lot of fun swimming here.

honestly, no picture could ever do this experience justice. even if you have to save until you are 85- you should still go to cinque terre. the hike may be a little rough for you at that age, but still worth it.
(enter inspirational photo)

after the hike, we took a train back through the mountains to the town we were staying in. we ate yummy italian pesto and sank into bed. we were pooped! this last picture is right before we got on our train to head towards venice. we didn't want to leave- but the show must go on...


cinque terre said...

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( in my signature ) and to the blog where you can also vote
the nicest of the 5 Terre

paige and jord said...

im so jealous.. looks like an amazing place! we miss you two-

Anonymous said...

Cade and Ashley! We just read your post and found it most enjoyable. We (Mother) and I think you are both so fabulous, darling. special, smart, righteous,execpt we are nervouse about the diving part. that sounds dangerous. what a miracle about your glasses, really a miracle! be careful at all times. this place you went to sounds like a fabulous placeto see. it will be great to hear more about it. sophie is hoping you are going to sleep at their house christmas night with us!!!we love you tons. mommy and daddy.

The Nortons said...

Cade...New swimsuit?

Ashlee said...

What an amazing experience!!! You guys are so smart to do this before you have kids. Right now I'm thinking of a way to get of my kids for a week so I can go to Italy!! Good luck with the jobs.

Laina said...

this place sounds amazing. Maybe one day (sigh).

Mackay Family said...

That place looks amazing! I can't believe that you were lucky enough to find his glasses!!

Randy and Leslea said...

Okay.... we'll be right there...we're on our way, forget about Korea!

I laugh out loud and giggle as I read about your adventures!
Fun, Fun, Fun!!!