Italy Recap #1: Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Finally, trip recap! Done in many segments so as to show you many many photos from our adventures (also so that I actually post something before another month flies by).
We flew Detroit to Frankfurt, where we connected to a short flight to Milan. The flight over was really great, Lil was happy as can be. I packed all sorts of new (quiet!) toys and snacks, and we used NONE of them. She was really happy sitting on our laps and reading the same 3 books over and over, or sitting in the bassinet, waving at the other passengers and checking out the Lufthansa postcards that we found free on board. There were some loud talkers on the plane, the biggest offender sitting across the isle from us. The good news is that the obnoxiousness of these men (who had to be told to quiet down by flight attendants several times) made me MUCH MUCH less self-conscious about taking a baby on the plane. Because no way would my baby’s behavior be as annoying as these adults behavior was. The bad news is that Lil only got about 1.5 hours of sleep on the 8 hour flight, and Jason and I got less.
Once we arrived in Milan, we took the train from Malpensa Airport to Milano Centrale (the airport is about 45 min outside the city). From there, we had 20 min before the convenient train to the Cinque Terre left. And, we spent all 20 dealing with the automated ticket machines, several of which appeared to be incredibly slow and/or broken. Also, none of the automated ticket machines took our credit cards (you needed a pin, which ours do not have) and we had no luck with the debit card. So we waited in line to buy tickets, missing the convenient train, which added an hour and an extra stop to our travel time. Neither of us were very happy about the situation, but 5 hours and 4 trains after landing in Milan, we finally arrived in Vernazza.
It was worth the long day of travel. (But next time we travel with a little one, we will be staying wherever we flew into that evening. Navigating a new country with luggage, an overtired baby in 100 degree weather while being tired ourselves was not a really fun way to start a vacation.)
view from the porch of the apartment we rented
We stayed in an apartment in the center of town. It was a small apartment, with an even smaller bathroom (the shower was so tight that I had only an inch on either side of my shoulders). But it was clean, and the woman who rented it to us was so very sweet. The highlight of the apartment was certainly the large balcony overlooking the main street. We picked up quite a few meals and ate on the patio, saving money and the hassle of having a little on in a restaurant. It was so nice to have extra space to hang out in so that we didn’t have to have lights out & whispers once our little one was sleeping. Having a fridge to store wine, beer, & water in was really helpful, too. I’d definitely recommend renting an apartment to anyone traveling with little ones — for the most part, the apartments we rented were comparable or less than we would have spent on a hotel room, and I can’t stress enough how wonderful it was to have the extra room so that Jason and I could actually talk/read/surf the internet while Lil slept.
nighttime on our porch — with the soft glow of the little town below us…
I was initially worried about the temp of the 4th floor apartment — it didn’t have air conditioning and the daytime temps were in the 100s — but we stayed pretty cool at night, the breeze from the Ligurian Sea providing a nice relief from the oppressive daytime heat. There were what seemed like a million narrow stairs to climb to get to the apartment, but after the first day or so, it didn’t seem terrible. I didn’t take photos of the apartment, but for those of you who are curious, pictures and info about renting can be found on Rosa’s website.
We spent much of our time in Vernazza at the beach. We knew Lil loved swimming before we got to Vernazza, but being able to scoot herself into the water seemed to make Lil especially happy. Having recently read this piece about paying attention not only to baby’s firsts, but also her lasts, I feel especially grateful for all of these pictures. This day, our day on the beach in Vernazza, is the last time I remember Lilly scooting herself around on her hands and knees before learning to walk.
When we weren’t relaxing on the beach that day, we were picking up gelato or pizza. In the first days of our trip, I’d offer Lil a spoonful of gelato and she’d refuse. What? We didn’t figure it out until day 4 or 5 of the trip — Lil wanted nothing to do with the gelato unless she was given her own spoon and allowed to scoop her own gelato out of the bowl. More pictures to come. :)
We also spent a considerable amount of time looking for dogs and cats. We would ask “where’s the dog/cat?” and wait a second for her to point it out. There were quite a few dogs and cats in Vernazza, and this trick seemed to keep Lil occupied and paying attention to the world around her. Below you can see her asking, “where?” — this hand signal was typically paired with panting (what she does when you ask her what a dog says) or a tilt of her head to the side (what she does when you ask her what a cat says). We also started to get really into birds here, thanks to a whole bunch of sea gulls.
Midday in Vernazza was pretty busy — the streets filled quickly with day trippers. Earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon, though, we could let Lil walk the streets (while we held her hand since she wasn’t very steady on her feet yet) without getting run over. On one of our walks through town, a little boy ran up and gave Lil a hug. It was so very sweet, and she didn’t seem to mind initially, but began crying when the hug lasted a little too long.
There was a huge mud slide in Vernazza last October — the stone/paint line shows the height of the mud. The mudslide affected almost every business in town, and almost all of them were up and running during our visit, only 10 months later. Amazing.
We hiked a little North of town on our second evening in Vernazza, and were rewarded with some wonderful views. I love the squirrel icon on this sign: no food, cars, fire, or giant boom boxes, but you can bring your squirrel.
I look crazy here, but love Lil’s happy little smile enough to share this one with the Inet.
The next morning, we hiked South towards the town of Corniglia. It was a challenging 2-hour hike with approximately 12.3 million steps and a baby on my back in temperatures that rapidly approached 100 degrees. Again we were rewarded with some amazing views! The Ligurian Sea was an amazing shade of blue that day, and so was the sky overhead.
Behind me is the town of Corniglia
Gah! Forgot to change the settings on the camera before handing it off to another traveler. So disappointing! Family photos can be really tricky to obtain on vacay. We tried our best, but, as you’ll see, not many of them turned out.
Climbing the stairs with Lil while we waited for lunch. She loved stairs on our trip. Stairs for climbing and stoops for sitting.
A decent family photo, taken by precariously balancing my camera on some steps. The beautiful scenery is off to the left of J, but we couldn’t balance the camera facing the scenery.
Another try at the family photo in a new location, here you can see the scenery, but Lil isn’t looking…
Given the heat of the day, we were pretty thrilled to get on the air conditioned train and head back to Vernazza for naps and beach time.
Later that evening, we actually opted to eat out, waterside. I had the cutest dates… that little bow on Lilly kills me. So. stinkin. cute. And whenever she finds it, she puts it up on her head like she actually wants to wear it. After dinner, we walked the town at sunset and took a few photos.
The next morning, we left Vernazza, heading towards Pisa and then Florence. Both J and I decided that we wished we would have spent a few more days in Vernazza. (Especially given how HOT it was in Florence! We would have LOVED to be sitting at the beach again!)
The last shot of Lil in Vernazza — right in front of the stairs leading to our apartment.