Last night we decided that we loooooved Siena. So much so that we decided to try and squeeze a few extra hours out of the city. Instead of taking the 9 o’clock train out, we decided to sleep in a little, get some (free) breakfast from our B&B, and catch a later train to our next destination. (Just incase anyone is looking for a decent B&B inside Siena, we stayed at the Palazzo Bruchi – which I would recommend.)
We had a ten to fifteen-ish minute walk to the bus stop, and it probably took us about that long to figure out the Siena bus system, and to discover that “Ferrovia” and “Stazione” both mean train station. After a quick bus trip we were at the train station, and on our way to Monterosso. Todays travel seemed a little intimidating at first, since until this point we hadn’t had to change trains at a station that wasn’t the end of the line. But, in the end it wasn’t too hard to figure out – even if I did run back to check the schedule 5 times at every stop – just incase the printed schedule magically changed since the last time I had checked it….
The whole trip was about 3 hours and 45 minutes, so it was a long travel day, but surprisingly it didn’t seem too bad. We passed by Pisa, but we didn’t get out to check it out. Not that we wouldn’t want to see it, but we have had some pretty packed days, and were on a fairly tight time schedule since we opted to take the later train. We arrived in Monterosso, part of the Cinque Terre, around 3:00 and found our way to our room by about 3:30.
Another quick lesson: The Cinque Terre is made up of five towns along the Italian Riveara. Literally, it means “the five lands”. There is a local train that connects all of the towns, and hiking trails that you can take also. It is also apparently a huge American and German tourist draw. I think that I have heard more American accents here than in any other place we have been so far – and less smoking. As an aside – ALL ITALIANS SMOKE. It is unbelievable. We ran into a group of four older folks, 2 from Bama, 2 from Georgia – who told us that they knew we were American because we weren’t smoking while waiting for the train.
Anyway, we made the trip up to our room. And when I say up, I mean UP. I think we had to climb about 100 stairs, with all of our bags in tow. But, when we finally made it to the top, we were treated to a pretty awesome view.
After getting settled in, we headed out to check out the town, and picked up a few things to take with us on our hike tomorrow. I also continued my Italian-domestic-animal-safari. Taking pictures of random cats and dogs has become my side project while on vacation. This leg was pretty easy to complete – there are cats EVERYWHERE. As I type this, there is actually a one-eyed cat on our terrace, meowing, and trying to make friends with Jason while he is hanging our laundry to dry. He is actually pretty cute, despite his one-eyedness. He is trying to make a break for the open terrace door, not Jason – the one eyed cat. Although neither of us wants to risk petting him – I bet he is scrappy.
Despite the moving around (travel days are always a bit crazy), today was pretty relaxed compared to our previous maniac pace. To me it feels a little weird to slow down so much – but it is a welcome change of pace.
Tomorrow, we hike!
The first half of today was a travel day. We got up semi-early, grabbed some (free) breakfast from the Hotel Aberdeen in Rome, and then schlepped all of our belongings – which are starting to take up more room every time we pack – across Rome. After a quick Metro ride we were at the bus station, ready to move on to Siena. Just a note to anyone who may want to travel to Italy – bus travel is waaaaaay nicer and much less stressful than train travel. The bus took about 3 hours to reach Siena, and that gave us plenty of time to research what we wanted to do.
Quick history lesson: Siena is about 35 miles south of Florence, and the two were medieval rivals. Siena had been a large military and trade power, but was hit hard by the black death (1348 – so, not any time recently) – and was then conquered by Florence.
We realized that we have been travel maniacs for the past week and we should probably tone it down a little. So, we decided to check out Il Campo (rated by some as the best piazza in all of Italy), and the Duomo. There is also a large tower that we had wanted to climb (the Torre del Mangia for those who are interested), but as part of admission to the Duomo, we got access to a “Panorama View” which had some great views of the city and Tuscany.
After leaving the Duomo museum, we strolled around the town, and had dinner at Trattoria La Torre. Jason refers to this restaurant as the coolest place ever . It was a family run eatery with an open kitchen and freshly made everything. He got home made pasta with boar sauce – something that he has been looking forward to this entire trip. THEN, he got what the owner referred to as “pork steak”- which was a giant piece of pork. As we were leaving I tried to take a photo of the restaurant and the owner stepped out just as I was taking the photo. I don’t know if it was the language barrier or what, but now we have photos of both of us with the owner.
Anyways, tomorrow we are on the move again. We head to Cinque Terre for 3 nights, and hopefully can take things a little slower for a few days.
So, Friday and Saturday are one big blur. Friday we left Philly around 6:15, and it was actually a much easier flight than either of us expected. Somehow we both fell asleep, and stayed asleep for the majority of the flight. And it’s a good thing. Once we landed in Rome on Saturday, we were in for a lot of traveling. First, it took a bit longer to get out of the airport than we had expected.
Next we took a bus to the Termini train station in Rome, where we just missed the 11:40ish train to Naples. Bummer. So, we grabbed some lunch, (and Jason discovered his love for prosciutto) and we took at next train to Naples at 12:45. The guidebooks and everything we had seen preparing for the trip made it seem like all train stations are crawling with helpful and friendly employees. We couldn’t find ONE employee to ask if we were on the right train. But, we were. And it’s a good thing – it was a long trip to Naples (like, over 3 hours long). Once in Naples, we changed trains, and got on the local commuter train to Sorrento. That too was a longer than expected trip. I don’t know if we made up these times in our heads when we were planning or what.
Anyway, we finally arrived around 6ish Italy time on saturday. So, it was pretty much a full 24 hours from when we left our house.
After we got checked in, we cleaned up a little and walked around town a bit. We will put up some photos from that tomorrow. The internet connection is slow, and there are some Italians watching the wrong kind of football for a Sunday. (Go Ravens!)