After a lovely breakfast of pastries, muffins, juice and other tasty treats at our hotel, we headed to the Firenze (Florence) train station, bound for Vernazza, Cinque Terre.
After switching trains a couple times and getting fined by a train conductor for not punching our train tickets at the station (oops… no one told us to do that, so who would know?!), we arrived in our lovely town of Vernazza. The town only has one main street, so we pulled our suitcases along its cobblestones until we reached the end (about a 10 minute walk at most) and tried to locate our hotel. Since our hotel was also a restaurant (Hotel Gianni Franzi), we were able to find the hotel easily at the end of the street, next to the water. It happened to be siesta time, so there weren’t any restaurants that were open or serving food and most of the shops were closed. However, we were able to locate the reception desk (which was also the coffee bar) and were given keys and directions to our rooms.
Although I knew there we were going to have to walk up some stairs to our rooms, I had no idea that we’d have to walk up SO MANY. I wish I would’ve counted, but I’ll just have to say that it was A LOT. I fancy myself to be in fairly good shape, but I was huffing and puffing my way up those stairs and by the time I reached the top, I decided that I would only make this trip twice a day. Once to go down in the morning and once at night. Anything more than that is just too much!
We finally reached our rooms, dropped our bags off and changed our clothes. My dad decided to take a short nap before the restaurants opened for dinner, so my mom, Chad and I headed back into town to check it out. We got a few souvenirs and then decided to create our own happy hour. We went into a tiny shop that mainly sold meats and cheeses. I listened to the other customers as they ordered and realized that the one lady who worked in this shop only spoke Italian. Well, this would put my language skills to the test! I mustered up my best Italian phrases and ordered us some cheese (formaggio) and salami. We got some plastic silverware, a bottle of wine (which she opened for us in the shop), and off we went, back up the endless stairs to the table and chairs on the patio near our rooms.
This little happy hour hit the spot. I decided to take a little nap myself and then the family regrouped to tackle the stairs once more and head down to dinner. We dined at the hotel’s restaurant, which had a lovely view of the water.
Since Vernazza was the place where pesto was invented, Chad had to try the pesto pasta. My mom tried a different variety of pesto pasta, I sampled the locally caught fish, and Dad had spaghetti. We all sampled each others’ food and every single bite was delicious! When the waiter brought my fish, he cut the head off and deboned it right in front of us at the table to show how fresh it was.
We had hoped to top off our meal with a little gelato at the shop down the street, but it was closed by the time we got there. We found that most places didn’t really have set hours of operation. They opened when the owner felt like it, and closed when he or she wanted to go home. Thus is the charm of Italy.