If you know me and you know this blog, you know that I don’t write articles like this very often. “Things to do” lists are not in my usual repertoire on my personal blog. But once in a while, a place comes along that is so amazing, so instantly special to me, that I can’t wait to share it.
Most recently, that place was the town of Amalfi, Italy.
“I’m saving the Amalfi Coast for something special,” I remember saying to a friend in London, years ago. I had just returned from Cinque Terre for the third time, another part of Italy that is raved about for its beauty. The Amalfi Coast, a 50-kilometre stretch of coastline along the Mediterranean, kept eluding me despite being so high on my dream travel list. Saying I was saving if for something special made me feel slightly better about not seeing it yet.
The truth is, I didn’t know what that “something special” was going to be. “I’m saving the Amalfi Coast for something special,” became my mantra, the Amalfi Coast becoming that destination that was always in the back of my mind, that place I so desperately wanted to visit but didn’t know how.
I’ve been lucky this summer, because it’s been a summer of near constant travel, more-so than usual for me. If we count May, I’ve visited Italy twice (Bologna and Cinque Terre), Spain (to Mallorca, where I stayed in a villa with my mum for a week), Sweden (for a travel blogging conference), and Prague (for a weekend holiday with a friend). I also have a weekend in Brighton coming up, as well as a few days in Paris at the end of the month. It’s been a spectacular string of travels, and I’ve loved every minute.
And, oh yeah, I also fell in love with a drink.
If you’ve been following my Facebook or my Instagram accounts, you’d know that I’m not hiding the fact that I fell absolutely, head over heels in love with Cinque Terre, Italy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know – I can be quite promiscuous with my travel love. But how can you NOT fall in love with a place that looks like this, especially when the sun is shining and you have a glass of wine in your hand?
I’m still going through all of the hundreds of photos I took from my four days there last month, so I’ll be posting a photo essay soon, but I wanted to write a post about some of the logistics of getting around Cinque Terre, especially for those who are on a bit of a budget (like I was…er… always am). I had quite a few people write to me to say that they plan on visiting the region this summer, and so hopefully this guide can help, or perhaps it can help inspire you to plan your own trip there. It is one of the most beautiful places in Italy, if not the world, and I truly believe that Cinque Terre can be visited on a budget. Here’s how.
Because that’s the thing – we have absolutely no control over the weather (short-term, anyway, don’t get me started on global warming). When we go to book a holiday we have little to go on other than what previous years have told us. I may know that a particular season is rainier than others, but even that doesn’t guarantee that I’ll need a raincoat or umbrella.
But looking at that forecast for Bergamo, I decided to pack accordingly. “I’ll bring an umbrella,” I thought. “A pink one.”
As I sat in the main square myself – I ordered my first glass of wine at 11 a.m., because when in Italy, you do as the Italians do – I was reminded of my first trip to Italy. It was 2006, nearly ten years ago. I was newly twenty-two years old. I had short, dark hair I had cut myself with my mother’s sewing scissors the night before I left my hometown in Canada. Italy was my sixth country on a huge, whirlwind backpacking trip through Europe: I had already been to the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Germany. I was completely on my own, bouncing from one major city to the next, staying in hostels for a few days before strapping my backpack on and clutching my Eurorail pass to my chest to find another train to another city. When I think of that trip, I think of the click-clack of the destination board in the train station as it updates; I think of arriving in dark cities late at night, searching for a taxi; I think of staring out the window as the world whizzed past, watching green hills unfold in the distance, fairy-tale castles perched atop a few of them. I think of movement. And then, I think of Italy.