Archive | November, 2012

Cinque Terre :: Riomaggiore

Day Three in Cinque Terre dawned rainy and gray.  
This is an unfortunate state of affairs if you are in a small apartment with four children under six years old.  We waited for the rain to abate somewhat and then, hungry and stir-crazy, we headed out into our little town of Riomaggiore.  Below is the view of the heart of town and the boat slip.  Looks a little different on a rainy day than it does in the sparkling summertime!

At the top of the town, the sun came out!  As we looked towards the back of town and the rising hills, low-hanging clouds lingered, but if we looked out to sea there was only sunshine.

For all lovers of Naomi of Rockstar Diaries, we missed each other by one day in Riomaggiore.  She took this same photo a day before I did.  I also have a sneaking suspicion we might have even stayed in the same apartment, but do not yet have proof….

Our apartment included the top floor of the narrow rose-colored house on the far left.  Below is the view from the balcony at the very top.

And then we were home after another fun day of exploring.  Time to cook dinner, read a few stories (this one‘s her current favorite… thank you, Jo and Will!), and snuggle down into bed.
7 :: in Cinque Terre, friends, Italy, travel

Cinque Terre :: Vernazza

Beautiful Vernazza, the most famous of the Cinque Terre villages, was our lunch stop (and last stop) that first day.  We had wanted to stay in this town because it was famously lovely, but in the end I actually liked Riomaggiore more.  Nevertheless, Vernazza (ver-NATZ-ah) had a gorgeous coastline and lovely little harbor… and some yummy eats.

All the beached rowboats reminded us that we were visiting in the off-season.  Oh to come again in the height of summer when every captain is plying his oars across the sparkling blue sea!

We found a great little restaurant called Bar del Capitano in the main square and settled down for some traditional fare.  I ordered the trofie al pesto this time, which is pesto pasta that is cooked with sticky homemade noodles.  Delicious.

                                                                                                                                        ^ Waiting for the train! 

At home I carefully set up my camera on the balcony railing to take a photo of Riomaggiore by night.  So beautiful!  Later we played games of “This Little Piggy” before dinner.

After our babes were a-bed, the adults played Settlers of Catan… and I won!  For like the second time in my life?

6 :: in Cinque Terre, friends, Italy, travel

Cinque Terre :: Manarola

Christmas card photo, maybe?
We had been planning our trip to Cinque Terre with the Arthur family since… August, I think?  In fact, we bought our plane tickets even before we went to the Amalfi Coast, which is some planning ahead for you!  Elliott spent a lot of time on AirBnB, our favorite website for home away rentals.  We finally settled on this apartment and extra room in Riomaggiore, one of the five (in Italian, cinque) towns of Cinque Terre.  I recommend the apartment if you want a prime location for a great price.
We arrived in Riomaggiore on Friday afternoon, found the apartment with some difficulty, and went out for a delicious meal in town that night at La Lampara, which our trusty friend Rick Steves recommended (although Trip Advisor apparently does not).

Seafood spaghetti wrapped in foil (a local specialty) for me and stuffed mussels for Elliott.  Below, Miss Becca with two little munchkins.

The next morning, refreshed and excited, we took off exploring.  Our plan was to see whatever we could before the kids called it a day.  Thankfully, they were troopers, and we were able to enjoy three of the five Cinque Terre towns: some of Riomaggiore, a lot of Manarola, and a bit of Vernazza (which I’ll share tomorrow).

Our plan was to walk the beautiful coastline trail called Via dell’Amore (Way of Love) between Riomaggiore and Manarola.  The hiking trails between the towns are a major tourist attraction of Cinque Terre.  Sadly, however, due to recent rain and mudslides, the trail was chiusa (closed).  Le sigh.

We decided to take the train instead.  Unlike the Amalfi Coast, where you must drive or take buses everywhere, Cinque Terre has an amazing train system.  We paid 4 euro per adult for a ticket that would take us as far as we wanted to go in Cinque Terre for 6 hours.

Beautiful Manarola, the second town in the coastal necklace of Cinque Terre:

We popped into the cozy wooden “bar” (Italian for coffee shop) behind Lena for a mid-morning pick-me-up.  Ahh cappuccino… how I love thee.

Lena and Lucas were having so much fun in this little hideaway.  (The boards and barriers in front of doors are supposed to help with flooding.)  Later, Lena got a smooch from Caleb.  Already so popular with the fellas!

We found a beautiful vineyard hiking trail and followed that from the rear of Manarola back out to the coast.  Along the way we could admire the carefully built dry stone walls (no cement), terraced vineyards and orchards, and spectacular views.

Prettiest location for a town cemetery… ever?   And behind it was a fantastic playground!

To be continued tomorrow morning!
9 :: in Cinque Terre, friends, holiday, Italy, travel

birthday memories

Happy birthday to me!  Twenty-six today, believe it or not. 

I just finished talking to my sister on Skype a little while ago, and that always brings back a million memories of college at the University of Virginia.  Five (five?!) years ago I celebrated my 21st there with a fun birthday bash in my dear friend Sarah’s Lawn room.  I looked back on Facebook to see if the photos were still there, and whaddaya know?  Hello, 21-year-old self.

the aforementioned Sarah, who is now the belle of NYC

This last photo is my favorite: my nursing school friend Nicole teaches me how to open a bottle of wine.  I literally did not know how! 

I also got a kick out of the fact that I still wear that same sweater… five years later.

Oh memories…

12 :: in memories

back from Cinque Terre!

Becca (3 months pregnant!), Lucas, Lena, and me (7 months pregnant)

There was a bit of radio silence here over the long weekend while our little family and our dear friends the Arthurs journeyed to Cinque Terre.  (Remember them from this post?)  We’ve done shorter trips with the Arthurs before but this was our first big one to a far-off locale.  I have to say that I’m a fan of traveling with another family.  It meant fun conversations for the adults, more help in the kitchen, lots of playmates for the kids, and Settlers of Catan games after all the little ones are in bed.  Can you beat that?! 

In addition, we were visiting one of the prettiest places in Italy, a spot that has been on both of our bucket lists since we moved here.  I have so many beautiful pictures to share with you soon!

Sadly, over the weekend we received some terrible news that my beloved Aunt Holly (my mom’s middle sister) had suffered from a brain aneurism.  When my dad called me the picture was bleak, and by Sunday morning East Coast time Aunt Holly had died.  She is wife to Uncle Will and mother of three incredible children, all of whom are dear friends as well as relatives of mine.  I wept in our little apartment, staggered by yet another loss for our extended family after my sister’s death this summer.  Please keep the Rhodes family as well as my extended Palmer family in your thoughts and prayers.

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