Does counting the Cinque Terre count as cheating? That is five right there.
If you’ve never been to these five little towns that snuggle between rocks and il mare, I truly feel for you. These gems of the Ligurian coast are well worth the time and energy it takes to visit them.
Time and energy you say?
It wasn’t that long ago that the only way to see these towns was by boat. There are some questionable roads into these towns. It if is raining or snowing or windy or, hell, if there is weather? I would hike it or boat it. If you are not that into adventure, take the train.
These colorful and lively towns are best seen by foot. Monterossa al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
I won’t cheat. But, if you find yourself along the Ligurian coast some day do yourself a favor and head on over.
How this building gets overlooked by tourists is beyond me. I have asked people that have visited Rome if they saw the Pantheon and most say no. “You mean the Vatican?” No. The Pantheon. Please visit.
There is so much to say. I won’t. I will spare you.
The city by the Arno. It has bridges, churches, forts, museums, cafes, parks, art, leather, gold, restaurants… All within walking distance. You can go from one side of the city to the other (if you can manage not to stop for an espresso or a panini) in less than 25 minutes by foot. By. Foot.
Skip renting a car in Firenze. You don’t need it. Everything is walking distance. And, if you are a strict budget that’s ok too. One pass for all the city museums makes it affordable. You can get to most hotels within 15 minutes of the train station (if not two minutes).
The importance that Firenze holds for Western Civilization is beyond words (I’m sure someone will argue with me).
The birth town of the Renaissance. Dante, Da Vinci, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo called this place home*. Did you know that the famous bridge (Ponte Vecchio) that spans the Arno was spared by Hitler during WWII?
Now you do.
The constant ocean breezes. The surtido iberico that is served with every meal. The most beautiful people to look at and to interact with. The architecture. The variety. The influences. The churches and the mosques. The view of Northern Africa. Coastal getaways. Mountain retreats.
It is all part of the allure of this southern part of Spain; Andalucia.
Wake up. Open your window. Witness the clear blue waters as they give way to the grey mountains in the distance. That’s Africa. Have a delicious cafe con leche y pan and you are set for a nice drive.
Head over to Gibraltar.
Then to Tarifa for a quick boat ride to that not so distance coast line across the sea.
Get lost in the hills and end up in Ronda.
Order the Oxtail. Start with the Migas.
Granada and the Alhambra.
The Grand Canyon
There is only one word to describe the Grand Canyon.
Get lost. You sometimes forget the specifics of the Coliseum or the La Scala or the Tate Modern.
You don’t forget the times that make life interesting.
Allow me a moment to share a silly anecdote.
We were in Como for part of our Honeymoon. We decided to take a little boat ride to Bellagio.
We disembark and walk around this lakeside town. Teeny tiny streets with teeny tiny cobblestones helped make this the most beautiful places in the world. The iron, the stones, the smell of pizza and pasta, the sound of the water slapping gently on the post near the pier helped us forget where we were and, more importantly, when we were.
We found a cute restaurant. A bottle of the house red. Share some salami and prosciutto. A little more vino. Un po’ di soup.
Al fine i nostri pensieri e le nostre parole erano in italiano.
Col tempo we finally came back from la-la land. We paid. We headed out.
We stood at the pier for what seemed like forever. I walked back to the restaurant. And then I noticed something strange.
The restaurant was the only thing open. The rest of the town seemed to have closed. The signs were put away. The doors and shutters all closed.
I walked back into our cute little restaurant.
“When is the next boat back to Como?”
Heads turned. From patrons to the chef in the kitchen. Not a sound. Just stares.
“Como? Eh. Domani.”
“Si. Si. Domani.”
We had taken the last ferry to Bellagio. And the last ferry to Como departed two hours ago.
The buzz from the vino and all that other stuff was gone.
She must have seen all the blood rush away from face. She handed me a glass of house red. Someone had gone outside to get my new wife.
Forks and knives and conversations resumed their activities. I saw the “stupid-tourist-shrug” all over the place.
“I call you taxi. Maybe 1 hours. Then they come.”
“Sure. We will wait.”
Then, without any warning, I started laughing.
I never knew laughter could be so contagious. My wife started laughing. The hostess, the waiter, and the busboy started laughing. A couple of patrons later…
Vino for everyone.
It’s nice to get lost sometimes.