When we have each other, we have everything.
Slept in this morning. We needed a slower morning today. Enjoyed another breakfast from our sweet hosts and checked out. They were nice enough to let us leave our bags in the lobby while we walked around a little more. We headed straight to the bank for some more Euros and then to Santa Croche for pictures. Santa Croche is the burial ground for Michaelangelo. Unfortunately it is closed on Sunday, so we were unable to see it, but it was still fun to see it from the outside.
The train station was easier this time! We knew what to look for and were not as stressed in waiting for the platform (bin) to show up. We ate at McDonalds for lunch. I know... not your typical Italian meal. However, we were in need of something different, even if it wasn't great. We talked to a teacher from Florida briefly who was traveling on his own for his fortieth birthday. Nice guy. We boarded the train and picked the wrong car... serious lack of air flow. We stayed here for around an hour and a half (after a nap and blogging) and then switched cars. Much better on the second car. Beautiful countryside to look at and nice to see the country in a low-key, off-your-feet manner. We were excited for this next portion of our trip...totally different scenery and slower pace. We almost exited the train at the wrong stop :). Apparently there are two La Spezia stops. We jumped back on and made it to the right station. From there we connected to Riomaggiore.
Wow! OMG! Really, what a sight to see! We first saw the ocean when approaching on the train. We knew then that we didn't go wrong in our planning. Stepping off the train, you can sense the shift in pace and while walking through the long tunnel you quickly gauge the artistic nature of the community. Riomaggiore is built into a steep hillside and is dotted with bright colors of homes and shops. I appreciated the work that goes into growing the quaint gardens that line the streets for oranges and lemons. We arrived at our destination for the night, Colombo Guest House. The owner was so helpful and thorough. He provided us with maps, train information, a printed list of restaurants and local amenities. This was an amazing place to stay. The apartment was modernly decorated and our view of the main street bustle of activity was fun. We immediately changed and went for a walk around town. The coastal viewpoints, craggy cliffs, and rich colors were warm and welcoming. We stopped for dinner and I enjoyed a lemon soda and a hamburger with fries and onion rings. I needed to get something on my stomach that I was used to.
We walked up to a vantage point and enjoyed sweeping views of the coastline. We passed the church of San Giovanni Battista; a petite little church high on the hillside. We were pretty warm at that point, so we made our way back to get swimsuits on to go swimming in the ocean. The beach was so cool. It wasn't a warm sand beach, but the smooth rocks formed an area that in its own way was super comfortable to lay in. We swam for around 45 minutes and the water was unbelievably clear and warm. We laid on the rocks to dry and soaked in the sun.
It was back to the hotel for showers, gelato, and pictures of the sunset. We decided to do laundry tonight, so we dropped that off first. A little bit of a mystery on how to get coins and run the machine, but we figured it out in the end. I bought limone gelato from Yogurteria and walked up the other side of the town to take pictures of the sunset. The pictures were awesome and we ended up talking to a nice couple about the Cinque Terra region and where they had been in Italy. Then, we ran down to the laundromat because we were really late collecting our stuff. Fortunately, no one removed our stuff. We collected the laundry and headed to the apartment to hang our clothes, hoping that they would dry by morning.
Prior to heading to bed, we heard singing in the streets. We headed downstairs to check it out and discovered that they had lined the street with candles and flowers. A procession guided by a priest with a cross was singing and the members of the church were singing along. Apparently, it was a celebration for a priest gaining sainthood. They walked all the way to the marina and back, chanting and praying the whole way. It was neat to see this Italian tradition. Admittedly it would have been a little embarrassing to be the girls following behind them with the pizza boxes, but what are you going to do.
Ben, Julie, and Amelia