A Roman Holiday - Part 2 - Venice & Cinque Terre
We took off on our Venice adventure and drove off in the early morning to the Island. We crossed the sea and parked on the island at parking Tronchetto (21 euro per day). Instead of taking the boat we walked to centre, which was about 2 KM. Under the hot Italian sun we began to explore the many streets, shops and café’s the Isle has to offer. At the edges of the Island the streets are deserted, but for a few older ‘donne’ (women) waving colorful fans. The moment you start moving towards the center, you get overwhelmed by the other tourists fighting for a picture, a place in a restaurant, an ice cream or the best bargain at the many shops. (PS: Is it really necessary to put a Zara/Mango/etc everywhere?) I would think no one would even want to go shopping on a place like Venice that is overflowing with culture, history and beautiful pathways, but boy…. was I wrong.
To put a long story short, here are 5 things you have to know before visiting Venice
- Don’t even try and visit it during July or August. BAD IDEA. Only if you like feeling like a sardine in a box
- Read up on the history and book any tickets before coming!
- Don’t make a list of pictures you have to make in Venice
- Picture in a gondola
- Picture at the Canal Grande
- Picture with a bunch of pidgeons on San Marco.
- Eating an ice cream
Everybody takes the same damn pictures. You will be one of the thousand fools jiggling their selfie stick in front of their face. (My rule? No pictures in the first 2 hours of visiting a new place, after you have had a REAL enjoy and feel of the place, go ahead and let loose)
- Don’t only hang around the San Marco piazza, tour around. Good rule of thumb? Go the opposite direction of the mass. I know I sound a bit anti-social, but don’t be a sheep. We have enough of those.
- Hang around until the evening. After 8PM a lot of the tourists have already gone and you will at least feel a little bit more at ease.
We booked a darling B&B in La Spezia called Colori Magi, which is quaint, local and serves a great breakfast. It is just a 10 minute walk to the train station, which you will use to get around Cinque Terre. We arrived rather late and did not have the time to take a boat so we took the train to Vernazza. I had a darling idea of Cinque Terre. Colorful houses, the Mediterranean sea bashing against a rocky shore line and cute little café’s. Well, Cinque Terre had it all…. But lost its authenticity on the way. You had to watch where to step after getting off the train. People where nearly lying on top of each other on the very limited beach. Not our cup of tea, so we took off for the 1.5 hour hike from Vernazza to Corniglia. A beautiful trail that is quite steep in the beginning and take a reasonable body fitness. (Don’t forget to bring water!!) In the middle there is a cute little café where you can drink a lemon slushy and sit on the terrace.
Corniglia was a welcome break after Vernazza. A cute little town where the tourists are less plenty, and you can still enjoy a swim if you dare to face the rocky beach. A good idea is to rent a canoe if you are up for it and just paddle you way to a secluded beach that is tourist free. Cinque terre is the most beautiful from the water anyway. The water is bluer than the sky and great from swimming if you don’t mind a salty aftertaste. I would visit it again, but never during holiday season.
After leaving Cinque terre we wanted to find a camping near the beach, we drove along the shore line, but found only crowded beaches with too much shopping opportunity. We ended up in Viareggio. More on that later!