When the Moon Hits Your Eye

Meditations in Motion

When my hubby Bill and I realized that this year was going to be a landmark anniversary year for us, we decided to celebrate with a trip. A special trip – someplace we had never been before, somewhere exotic and unique.

We are both fitness enthusiasts and marathon runners. My first inclination was to find a notable marathon for us to run together. That’s how I discovered Le Marathon du Medoc in the Bordeaux region of France. The more we thought about it, though, we didn’t want the trip to be about a marathon, we wanted the trip to be about us.

We considered walking part of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain,  and even found an agency that would transport our luggage from hotel to hotel so that we would not have to carry heavy backpacks all along the route. When I was talking to the very helpful young woman assisting me in making the reservation, I mentioned that this was an anniversary trip. She suggested that, rather than walking El Camino, we may want to visit Cinque Terre, Italy instead.

Meditations in Motion

Cinque Terre means “five lands” in English, in reference to the five small villages in the area. A national park, Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre, with an extensive trail system connects the five villages. Cinque Terre is in the Tuscany region of Italy and the villages are all situated on the coast of the Ligurian Sea (part of the Mediterranean) in the northwest part of the country.

We could stay in one of the villages and hike the trails to the others. The benefit of this arrangement was that if we didn’t feel like hiking one day (or more), we didn’t have to. On El Camino, we would have been on a time schedule, required to hike a certain number of miles each day to reach the destination our bags were transported to.

We opted to stay in Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost and largest town (also, I believe, the nicest). I began studying Italian using an app on my phone. We were not sure how much English people in Monterosso would speak, and we wanted to be prepared to communicate. There was no need for concern, however, everyone in Monterosso spoke English.

Meditations in Motion

We flew British Airways into Pisa, the closest major airport and took the one-hour train ride to Monterosso. Trains in this area are cheap and easy to figure out. It’s a great way to get around. We arrived at our hotel at night, got a recommendation for a nearby restaurant for dinner, and crashed immediately after we ate.

Meditations in Motion

Our hotel was on a very quiet street which was too narrow for cars. A buffet breakfast was included in the price of our room. We were used to the American hotel breakfasts, but this breakfast far outshone anything I have ever had in the U.S. The dining room was filled with tons of fresh fruit – melons, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi fruit, pears, bananas, grapefruit and more. An espresso machine produced espresso, latte, cappuccino, and macchiatos from freshly ground beans, as well as hot chocolate. A variety of teas were available. Eggs and bacon were usually served, along with pancakes some days. Freshly sliced meats and cheeses, cereals, and granola were available. The star of the breakfasts, however, was the pastry table. Seven or eight freshly baked delicacies awaited us each morning, each one delicious. I am sorry I didn’t take pictures of the buffet, but I didn’t want to look like a doofus American tourist.

Bill and I often eat a big breakfast when we are traveling, then an early dinner (no lunch), and that was our plan for Italy. Unfortunately, an “early” dinner in Italy is considered 7:30 p.m. Restaurants didn’t even open until then. We had to revise our plan, so we usually had a glass of wine and a light snack sometime in the afternoon, then dinner around 8:00.

Meditations in Motion

We decided to explore Monterosso, rather than hike on our first full day in town, so we spent the day strolling around the village, visiting the quaint little shops, tasting local dishes and sampling the wine.

The wine was mostly white, fruity and slightly effervescent. Each restaurant served their house wine for about $10 – $12 a carafe. As you walked around town, you could catch a strong yeasty odor emanating from some buildings. I thought at first it was from bread-making, but it was actually the restaurants making wine.

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On the second day, we set out for a hike, and hoo, boy was it a hike. I pictured strolling on a rail trail-like pathway from village to village. The distance from the northernmost town to the southernmost is only about 10 miles, but those 10 miles are up and down steep, rocky, narrow paths with some pretty spectacular drop-offs. The towns are mostly perched at the bottom of cliffs, clinging to the last bit of land before it falls into the Ligurian Sea. The trails, however, are at the top of said cliffs, so a lot of climbing and descending was required. The views were spectacular, however. Everywhere you looked was another gorgeous vista.

We made it to the third town, Corniglia, explored and had a snack there, then took the train back to Monterosso. After a much-needed shower and rest, we strolled around town, had another fabulous dinner, and retired for the evening.

Meditations in Motion

The next day we decided to take it easy and visit the beach. We rented two beach chairs, and an umbrella, and spent the day reading, lounging, and swimming in the clear, blue Ligurian Sea.

Meditations in Motion

After the beach, we cleaned up and visited a winery that was literally 500 meters from our hotel. Those 500 meters were all up, however. Steps were required to get up the hill – it was too steep for a path. We sampled wine and snacked on delicious savories, then, after another stroll around town, had more fabulous seafood for dinner.

Meditations in Motion

The following day, we explored some of the other towns that we had not hiked to. A friend had recommended a restaurant, La Taverna, that was not to be missed, so we went there for dinner. I had their seafood pasta, which was probably the best meal on the whole trip.

For our last day in Cinque Terre, we had to decide – another beach day or another hike. we opted for the beach, went back to La Taverna for dinner again, and polished off sumptuous plates of seafood risotto and a bottle of white wine.

Meditations in Motion

Our last day in Italy was spent in Pisa, where we visited the leaning tower (of course), the cathedral associated with the tower, and the ancient wall that encircled medieval Pisa. The cathedral was celebrating its 900th anniversary. To an American, not used to such old buildings, this was amazing.

After another exquisite dinner, we strolled back to our hotel under a moon that appeared as big as a pizza pie. I couldn’t resist humming –

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie
That’s amore
When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine
That’s amore”
-by James Marsden

 

Meditations in Motion
Yep, 40 years. That’s Amore!

 

I am linking up with Clean East Fast Feets for her Week in Review, Shank You Very Much for Global Blogging and Dream Team, Random-osity for The Good, The Random, The Fun, Mary-andering Creatively for LMM, Patty, Erika and Marcia for Tuesdays on the Run, Eclectic Evelyn for her Words on Wednesday, Shelbee on the Edge for Spread the Kindness, and blovedboston for Weekending.

 

 

 

87 comments

  1. 40 years! Congratulations! That’s marvelous! I enjoyed reading about your trip. I’m so glad you had a relaxing trip, although I’ll bet you would have written a fabulous post of a hiking trip. In any case, this was memorable, and that is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a fabulous trip to celebrate 40(!) years! Congratulations! We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in Italy and the blood orange juice at the hotel buffet still stands out. Glad you enjoyed!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Anniversary! Thanks for sharing your trip/photos as it looks like a great time! I have yet to venture to Europe but the late dinner will likely pose an issue for my husband and I as well… on weekends we tend to have breakfast then do a big mid afternoon meal (helps avoid busy lunch or dinner crowds) around 2 and then just a light dinner such as grilled cheese later in the evening. I fear that I will go to bed stuffed to the gills the first time I go overseas! I found your beach picture especially interesting how all the umbrellas were lined up so neatly. I’m used to Ocean City where it’s first come first serve to plant your umbrella and chairs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know exactly what you mean about the eating schedule. Our daughter-in-law is from Chile and she and my son used to live there. The first time we visited them in Santiago, the very earliest we could eat dinner was 8 p.m. Many restaurants didn’t even open until 9!!! Yikes! What a culture shock!

      The thing about the beach was, you had to RENT an umbrella and chairs. They were maintained by lifeguards.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. HI, Laurie – It is a pleasure to meet you. This post has shown that we have much in common. Our youngest son is a very committed marathon runner…a passion that he gets from his father, who has completed several Iron Mans. My husband and I have completed three Camino de Santiago trials so far, and have loved every one of them. We plan to hike 1000 km of the Via Francigena trail in Italy this coming Spring.
    Happy Anniversary! I have already subscribed to your site and look forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your very kind comments!

      The Camino de Santiago is on our short list! We were actually going to hike it this year, rather than going to Cinque Terre and had contacted Follow the Camino tour company. The young woman there suggested Cinque Terre for an anniversary trip, because of the more flexible schedule. You obviously must have liked el Camino. Is the walking easy or is it a strenuous hike?

      Your husband is very accomplished. I can’t even imagine doing an Iron Man!

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  5. Happy anniversary! I haven’t been to Italy for many, many years and never to Cinque Terre. It definitely looks like a destination that needs to be added to our travel list. I’m curious… in your picture, there doesn’t appear to be anyone up in the Tower of Pisa. Is that no longer allowed? I remember being able to walk up to the top, and being amazed – and pleased – that there weren’t any safety rails around the perimeter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I would recommend adding Cinque Terre to anyone’s travel list. It was beautiful!
      You are still allowed to go up the tower in Pisa. We only had one day in town, and it was pretty late by the time we got to the tower. It would have been a really rushed trip. we just viewed it from the outside. Flying into Pisa nad taking the train to Cinque Terre was a really easy way to get around (just in case you’re interested!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I know people who have done the Camino walk but it is quite the commitment! Congrats on 40 years & it sounds like a wonderful trip to celebrate. Someday I really, really want to get to Italy, so I enjoy reading about others’ experiences.

    We didn’t do anything for our 30th, and the 40th is still quite some time away.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy Anniversary! I love the idea of spending somewhere special together to celebrate so much more than just buying something. My husband and I have started doing that as well. I’ve heard of the Cinque Terre region of Italy but didn’t know this type of hiking tour existed there. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. A trip is so much better than a “thing”. The hiking in Cinque Terre was definitely challenging, and we are both trail runners. I would recommend that region to anyone. It was fabulous! They even have a trail marathon there. It must be really tough!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have finally had a chance to read this post — and WOW, what a wonderful way to celebrate your first 😉 forty years together. Way before we were married, my husband discovered Cinque Terra by accident while traveling alone, and he has gorgeous photos (and memories) of it — and visiting it together is definitely on our list. And while I may not be a runner, I do love to hike, so this sounds like a dream plan to me! Abondanza!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Happy anniversary!
    Have a milestone birthday coming up and Cinque Terre was on the short list, though I think we’ve landed on Athens and the Greek Islands. Camino de Santiago has been a long time bucket list — eventually!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I have some friends running a marathon in Greece in November. They asked me to go along, but I just couldn’t swing it so soon after Italy. Maybe next year!

      Like

  10. Congrats on 40 years! Your trip sounds amazing! We went to Rome, Florence, and part of the Tuscan region with our sons to celebrate our oldest son’s graduation from college. We need to return, just the two of us! Next trip, we want to visit the Amalfi Coast.

    Liked by 1 person

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