Continuing our weekend adventure, on Sunday, we were supposed to go to Viareggio. We found out that they were having their Carnivale celebration, which is said to be one of the largest and best in Italy. We have had our fair share of the Carnivale crowds and were looking for a quiet day trip, so we set our sights on the Cinque Terre and the tiny fishing village of Vernazza instead.
The road to get there was INSANE. I am not talking about just a windy mountain road. Our poor car had to endure a lot to get up the mountain and then back down towards the ocean and Vernazza. We could not believe how crazy (and beautiful) that drive was. We could see so many terrace farms of wine grapes and olive trees built into the sides of the mountain. We also had a great view of the ocean!
Vernazza is a town of about 500 people and their main source of income is the tourists that frequent Cinque Terre. We found a nice little spot on the harbor for lunch and dined on Mussels and pesto. Then we got some gelato and sat on the rocks to get some sun. It was a beautiful view of the Mediterranean. We explored the little church on the harbor as well, which was built in 1200 and is still used today by the people of the village.
The town is super tiny and quaint. It was a Sunday so most people were not working. Everyone was just relaxing on the rocks with gelato or a glass of wine. The nearby Bars (what they would call a cafe in America except they also serve alcohol) don’t mind if you grab a glass of wine and head out to the pier as long as you come back and pay at some point. I have noticed that many of the places in Italy are like this. Everyone seems to be less concerned with strangers/customers taking advantage of them and more concerned with giving their customers a great experience and a little leeway. There have been a few times where I come up a few Euros short on a purchase and the shopkeeper will just say “prossima volta”, or “next time”. It is very refreshing and I like that they have this underlying attitude of compassion instead of the drive to make a buck.
By the time we got in the car to head home, the kids were so tired that they passed out immediately. Another nice, quiet drive for Mommy and Daddy through the mountains! (And thank goodness, because the stick shift was difficult to figure out when we were climbing those crazy roads).