in milan, finally. i had a premonition that my train would be late getting to my connection in genova (hell, that was an easy one – all the trains were late leaving la spezia) so i made sure i had enough time to get another train to milan from there, and there were plenty. still, i didn’t get into milan until nearly 10pm.
anyhoo, the cinque terre. long hike from vernazza to riomaggiore, with stops at each town for a glass of the local wine and a refill of my water bottle – in case you’re planning a trip to italy, bring a plastic water bottle with you, and you’ll never have to buy water while you’re here. there’s spring-fed fountains, or those running with aqua potabile, pretty much everywhere. in rome, i was able to keep my recycled gatorade bottle full the whole time i was there.
so. cinque terre. beautiful. ocean view to the right, sheer cliffs to the left, and on most of the hike, not much in between to walk on. plodding along the route that, thankfully, went from extremely vertical to mostly horizontal and finally, paved, with my backpack and messenger bag, slightly exhausted, and by the end of the hike, a little tipsy, it was a pretty full day – hiking from around 10am to 3pm, filling up my camera with pictures, my feet with blisters.
then, dinner at a pizzeria in la spezia, and a lovely conversation with some american girls on the ‘grand tour,’ six weeks and, from their itinerary, around 20 cities. i shared some of my travel tips with ‘the note-taker’ and they shared their experiences in paris and madrid. from what they tell me, the french are as bad as everyone says, to americans anyway, and madrid is the armpit of europe. a quote they attribute to one of the locals in vernazza ‘if madrid is the armpit, then naples is the crotch.’ i’ll leave it at that.
so, milan. great hotel, not too far from the station, though the nearest metro stop seems to be closed for some reason. i noticed this getting up late on monday and wandering into the city to do some window shopping. with no traffic, none of the shops near my hotel open, and no trains or buses rumbling past, it was eerily quiet. i know it’s the day after easter, but it’s still monday, after all. at 10:30 there was still almost nobody on the street, and i didn’t see significant numbers of people until i got to the duomo, and that was because there was a service about to start. creepy.
anyhow, it’s lunchtime now, and people are starting to come out into the light, the shops are opening up, and it’s starting to remind me of a city again. actually, the place reminds me most of koln/cologne in germany. the gothic cathedral and piazza slowly filling with street performers are part of it, but i’m not sure what’s at the root of it. maybe it’s that this place is more german than italian, by way of being so far north. i’ve certainly seen the contrasts, as i had intended, between the south and north.
so. window shopping, maybe a few designer souvenirs (though i can’t guarantee anything) and then a plane in the morning. this is probably my last entry from italy, as i’ll be home soon, so for those of you playing along at home: