Cinque Terre was by far the most beautiful city I visited during my fall break. The buildings were the colors of the rainbow, the water was a bright aqua blue, and the sun caressed us in its warmth. I met up with a group of friends from my program at the train station in Florence bright and early for an adventurous day.
Our first stop was in Riomaggiore. We strolled along the village, stopped by a cafe for a pick-me-up, and watched the sun rise from behind the mountains. We made our way from the coast to the main village and just freely walked around. Hannah found a gigantic, juicy pear, and I found an anklet as blue as the water for my collection. After we got to the top of the mountain, we made our way to the next village, Manarola.
We saw the bridge we needed to get to but could not find the path, until a kind local gave us directions to the steps. Little did we know, we were in for a trek. After thirty seconds of climbing the steep, rocky steps up the mountain, we were breathlessly waiting for this to be over. Every time I looked up, I saw a million more steps and was slowly dying inside. Luckily, Karly played pump-up music, and the group did an amazing job cheering each other on. The pathways were ridiculously dangerous for Birkenstock wearers, and the railings offered no support. We later found out that there was an easier trail between the villages, but we were proud and excited to have conquered the hike of a lifetime.
Manarola was a BLAST! We had a photoshoot in front of the picturesque landscape and had a delicious seafood dinner. Then, we went for a swim! We could not find a place to change into our swimwear, so we took turns changing behind a sheet, bonding at its finest. Clarke took the first jump into the water, and the rest of us gradually made our way in. I am not the best swimmer and had never jumped into deep water before, so I was terrified to follow along the group. With the support of these wonderful humans, I worked up the nerve to face my fear and jumped in with Clarke by my side. I could not believe how easy that was.
We relaxed on the rocks for the rest of the day and had lovely conversations before hopping on a boat to take us back to the train station. We bought snacks and pizza and got to watch the sun set. The group played a hilarious game of the Whisper Challenge on the train, while two of our friends were waiting for us to return to Florence. We met up with them at our gelato spot, Gelateria La Carraia, and shared laughs and memories.
My day in Cinque Terre is one of my favorite memories from this semester. I loved how we made eating gelato a nightly routine. By the end of fall break, our group must have tried every single flavor at the same gelateria. I am thankful for the group of people I traveled with because they made the experience more amazing. I grew lifelong friendships and created lovely memories.