Monday, October 31, 2011

Getting to Cinque Terre and Manarola, Italy - and Two Nice Men

What an ordeal! But it was made more bearable by two kind men. I got to the train station in Assisi early and was able to catch the earlier train - if it had been on time. Luckily, a very nice man helped me finally get to the late train but while we were waiting, we talked quite a bit. He knew some English and helped me with my Italian. We both said that the other language was very difficult to learn! I complained about rolling your "r"s and he complained about the "th' and "w" sounds in English. He was excited that I was going to head down to Napoli, Capri and Sicily. He was really sweet. When an American man came up to ask me questions, the other man disappeared. I would have liked to have sat with him on the train to talk more.

I got into Arezzo and I had an hour between trains, so I walked around a bit. Here are some pics from there. I never did get to the old part of the city but might stay here a few nights later because I saw how nice the old town is from looking at postcards! And as you can see below, it does have a wall :)

We then went back to catch our train but had to wait due to another delay. We finally got to Firenze (Florence) and again we had a 1 1/2 hour delay. I had a chance to use my Italian cell phone to call Elena, who is my host for my apartment in Cinque Terre to tell her I would be late. She said that the weather was really bad and trains were delayed everywhere so she understood.

Again, after a long delay, I got on the train to La Spezia, which is the central train station for Cinque Terre. From there I had to take a train to Manarola. When I got into La Spezia, we found that there were no trains for the Cinque Terre towns due to damage to the tracks and roads from the rains. I saw high waters as we came into town. So, I called Elena and she said her father would pick me up but that he spoke no English. That was fine with me because I wouldn't have to stay in the train station all night like hundred's of other people.

He found us and was another sweet man. He did know a little English he remembered from his school days so we laughed as we tried to communicate in both languages. The roads were bad but that didn't stop him from passing cars when there were double white lines or when we went through a tunnel. He tried to pass once but the fog was so bad, he backed off. In my broken Italian, I said "You don't know much English, but you know the word 'fog'"? I of course, couldn't remember 'fog' in Italian.

I didn't feel too unsafe because his car was medium sized. We really had a great time talking and laughing - and I have to say I was developing a little crush on him - for a short time. I think the fact that he periodically petted Seymour helped. He also carried my heavy bag all the way up the hill and the stairs to the apartment, which was on the 3rd floor.

I will take pictures of the apartment later. I have the whole thing to myself. It has a bedroom, a sitting room, a large dining room, kitchen and bath. It also has a washing machine, which I am using as I write.

This morning, I walked into town to find the train station, since it was dark when we got here last night and I had no idea where anything was.

This is a small village, population 850. The tour book says that it has more grapevines than any other Cinque Terre city and is famous for its Sciaccherte wine (I hope to buy a bottle). It is supposed to be full of midevil relics and is possibly the oldest of the Cinque Terre cities. Here are a few pictures I took on our walk this morning.

This view is just up the street from our apartment. Amazing!

The old church and bell tower - right near where I took the above picture:

You can't see much, but the hillside is filled with statues that I think they light up at night. I'll have to check tonight.

I tried to get a espresso in town this morning and the electricity went off all over town. They said that lightning struck a pole during the storm. I also checked out the train station and saw that some of the tracks were still closed, so I decided to just wash clothes and hang around the apartment and this city today. They sell a 2 day Cinque Terre pass for 19 euro that gets you on the trains and I don't know what else, that I expect to purchase tomorrow so I can visit the other cities. The trail that goes between the cities was also closed, due to the rains. I needed a day of rest and I am here for 6 nights, so it all works out for me.

I made reservations back in Livorno for 3 nights after this trip and need to find a place for 5 nights after that. Then I am really excited that I got a place in Matera for 6 nights. The apartment is right in the middle of the old town - probably up a million steps - but I can't wait to stay there. They don't normally take pets but said I could bring Seymour. They have 2 cats that have never seen a dog. I have Seymour's spray bottle (water only) that I will use if I have to!

If you get a chance, google Matera. It is where Mel Gibson made The Passion of Christ movie because it looks like it did back then. I really love the old cities best. The history amazes me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. The pictures are beautiful! I'm sorry for those people that it had to flood. Rick and I
    and the kids took a vacation once when they were little and went to Pennsylvania to visit friends who owned a campground. It had recently flooded there too! Bridges were washed out. It was a mess! I hope that you are still feeling better. Johnnie says "hi". I tried to show her some of your blog page one day but she didn't have much time so i just showed her pictures. Susan Reeves just got back from Michigan. She had been gone for a couple of weeks. She brought her grandkids over last night trick-or-treating. take care, mary
    p.s. Misty and I went to Mimas yesterday for $1 breakfast tacos. Missed You! Misty's mom
    Willa, bought a house off of 1492. It's a real fixer upper but it has a great view.
    take care my friend, mary

  2. Keep looking for a new Italian daddy for me. Maybe he can help my kids be bilingual. -Shannon