Terrible WiFi in Florence meant I couldn’t do a photo upload, which in turn meant no blog post, and also a photo backlog. I’ve caught up now, I’m halfway through my time in Rome, so here we are, only slightly later than usual.
Primarily a travel day, I left Milan for Levanto. Levanto is at the northwest end of the Cinque Terre, and is a great starting point for any trip into the famed Five Lands. A few of the hiking trails into the Cinque Terre start here, but since I was only spending one night here, and, quite frankly, do not have a body built for hiking, I just went down to the beach to watch the sunset.
Today I left Levanto for La Spezia. Italy’s primary naval port, and a beautiful city, where the ocean meets the mountains, with absolutely gorgeous panoramas. Another perfect launching point for Cinque Terre adventures, which is exactly what I used it for.
Always check the difficulty of a hiking trail before you take it. Because just looking at a trail up a mountain and thinking “That doesn’t look that high” is not an accurate way to judge. That’s what I did. Turns out the mountain trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola is one of the more difficult trails. The scenery is absolutely worth the pain, and honestly, if I can do it without equipment, and carrying 100+ kilograms of human, then there’s a fair chance you can too.
Many of the trails in the Cinque Terre aren’t in great condition, whether from the 2011 floods that wiped out the famous Via Dell’Amore, or just general lack of maintenance. It certainly makes things more difficult. I also checked out Corniglia today.
No hiking today, I learned my lesson. I did check out the remaining two towns in the Cinque Terre though, Vernazza and Monterosso. Monterosso is the only town with a proper beach, so I spent some time down there, while Vernazza has that postcard perfect harbour. Of course, to get that perfect shot, you have to climb halfway up the mountain, and sorry, I’m just not that committed.
Another travel day, but with an important stopover. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is absolutely beautiful. But once you’ve seen it… There’s not a lot else to do in Pisa. So I hopped back onto the train and continued to Florence.
Florence’s historical centre is beautiful, like so many other European cities. The Florence Duomo is one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. The Academie di Belle Arti is absolutely worth waiting in line for, because Michaelangelo’s David is amazing. It is way bigger than it looks in photos. Around three times taller than me, and is elevated to make it seem even taller.
No trip to Florence would be complete without a visit to the Uffizi Gallery, home to a number of Renaissance masterpieces. Unfortunately, da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi is currently in restoration, but the gallery’s other main drawcard, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is still on display, and is still amazing.
I arrived in Rome today, and after I’d dropped my bag at the hostel, I made a beeline for the Trevi Fountain, which is probably the highlight of my trip so far. The recent restoration works means the fountain practically shines in the sun. I, naturally, made a wish in the fountain.
My hostel is situated about ten minutes away from the Colosseum. It’s more than a little surreal to just round a corner and see the Colosseum right there in front of you. While I was there, I checked out the nearby Forum and Palatine Hill, some very extensive Roman ruins, right in the middle of the city, in almost a park setting (if parks had an entry fee).
I practically walked all the way around a country today, and crossed the border about six times. Granted, that country was the Vatican City. I saw the Pope… doing Pope things. I don’t speak Italian (Latin?), so I’m not sure what he was saying, but there was a blessing and so on. St Peter’s Basilica is huge, you could practically play football inside (Australian Rules football, not soccer). The Sistine Chapel is well worth the price of entry to the Vatican Museum. It’s very high up, and photos aren’t allowed, which makes it kind of hard to see the detail (or take a sneaky photo). It’s strange to see all these frescoes on high ceilings, so much effort for something barely anyone will see in great detail.
Every now and then, on a long trip like this, it pays to have a quiet day. One day where you’re not rushing to get to the next sight, or standing in line for hours. So, today I’m doing laundry and catching up on Youtube. And writing this blog. Tomorrow I’ll see the other Roman sights, The Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and whatever else I think of between now and then. And after that, it’s Naples, then Palermo. Hopefully it won’t be another week before I post again.