Day 58 Florence, Pisa, the Cinque Terre Oh My!

After a semi-decent night’s sleep (thanks to the fact last night was a Sunday night…the partiers at the bar went home a bit earlier and thanks to the fact we had heat)…we got ready to hit the road again!  I have to say I was a bit worried that we would find our sweet little pumpkin of a car totally vandalized (think the station wagon from Vacation…Honky Lips painted on the side with the hub caps missing…you got the picture?) or maybe I was just reliving our trip to Vancouver when our car window was smashed and my purse was stolen…I could hear Rick Steves now “You should have left your glove compartment open, you should have parked under a light, you should have….”  With all this running through my mind, and the lack of sleep, oh and let’s not forget I have not showered…let’s just say I was in an awesome mood…  add in here that we were lost…we didn’t have any way to navigate where we were and where our car was…and we have giant backpacks and sacks of food.  I am not sure how far into the walk we were before I had a bit of a melt down.  Just sheer lack of sleep and frustration led to my profanity laden melt down on some random narrow street in Florence!  I can only imagine what it must have looked like to the uber cool Italian people that were strolling by in their shiny leather shoes and perfect tailored coats…an American mom losing it in front of her husband and son…totally awesome!  It was one of those times that I knew I was being ridiculous, I knew my tantrum was far from helpful, and it did not matter one bit to me!!  So after some profanity, huffing and puffing, me walking off alone for a bit…I calmed down and we had a good laugh while still trying to find the damn car!  Finally, after a lot of hot footing around Florence…we found our sweet little Jacques untouched and just faithfully waiting for us to come and get him!!!

And we were off!  We were heading to the Cinque Terre by way of Pisa.  I have heard about the leaning tower of Pisa my whole life, and now it was time to see it!  I wanted to take one of those goofy pictures where you are pushing the tower over…or holding it up…you know what I mean!  And I really wanted to see how much this supposed “lean” is?

Let me share my ignorance with you all!  Yes, I knew about the tower…but really gave no thought to the fact that this tower was in a city…a city called Pisa.  What a dork right?  Actually, Pisa is a really cool city!  It is a university town, and when we were there, there were students all around!  The city really had a youthful vibe that was pretty great!  I have always been a huge fan of Keith Haring, feeling like he was part of my generation!  He has a mural in Pisa called Tuttomundo, about world peace that is so interesting and fantastic!  We saw his mural first, and then set out to find the tower.  I have to plug my other traveling companion on this trip, Rick Steves because his Italy book really helped us in so many different places!  Pisa was no different!  He had a walking tour that we took all the way to the tower!  I really enjoyed walking the streets of Pisa!  There were some great shops, even a cool little outdoor market and ice skating rink for Christmas, and a bridge that reminded me a bit of Florence.  What shocks me is that you never really hear about what a great little city Pisa is….you only hear about it’s rock star resident, the 800 plus year old tower.

As we continued on our way…what to my wondering eyes should appear…but a crooked little tower rising up quite near!  The tower was poking it’s crooked little head up over the buildings…and I knew it really was leaning!!  Depending on the way you look at the tower, it appears to lean more or less.  But when you look at the entrance, the doorway, you really see how much it leans!  It really is a bit freaky…it looks like it is going to fall over!!!  We had fun taking pictures and looking at it from all angles…but what I really wanted to do was climb it!!  We excitedly walked to the ticket office…and then…and then we saw the price.  It was 15 euros (close to 20 dollars) to just climb up…so for the 3 of us that was about 60 dollars just to climb up to the top.  This was one of those times that I just couldn’t do it…it just seemed like way too much money for that…so we just enjoyed to view from the ground…and then headed on our way!

We hit the road again to our final destination of Corniglia in the Cinque Terre.  This is the “quiet town” out of the 5 towns in the Cinque Terre, but that was just fine with us! We actually booked our apartment on Air BnB.  The reason we chose this place was the price and the view!  The apartment we rented had an amazing view of the ocean and a balcony that you could sit out on!  Interestingly, the apartment we booked was also one that Rick Steves recommended as one of the few places to stay in Corniglia…so I was happy about that!  Our drive to Corniglia was another thing entirely!  All I can say is YIKES!  I thought the road to Positano was scary…it did not hold a candle to this crazy ride!  First, I have to say that you are on winding mountain roads…hairpin turns within hairpin turns…steep cliffs… a white knuckle ride for sure!  But let’s add in the fact that the roads look like they are in need of some serious care…and that they are only wide enough for one car…not two…and forget about it if there is a bus…I can’t imagine!  Mama mia what a ride!!!  I never thought we would make it!!  When we finally got to Corniglia, I realized what Rick meant when he said it was quiet…I mean holy cow it looked deserted!  We drove into a tiny little town square and waited for Cristiana who was renting us the apartment.  I was a little worried at this point, a small deserted looking, isolated little town…what had we done???

When Cristiana walked up, all my fears were gone!  Her bright smile and kindness were evident from the moment we met her!  She had the typical Italian accent, which just made her more endearing!  She told us that she ran a cafe in town with her husband, and that she has lived in Corniglia her whole life.  She told us all about the town as she led us to our apartment!  The apartment was right on the trail that connects the towns in the Cinque Terre.  It was warm, cozy, and clean!  The balcony was amazing too!  What a view!  It was like night and day compared to the apartment we were in in Florence!  She told us about the town, the trains, the trail, and answered all the questions we had!  As we settled in, I knew that this was going to be a very special stay!