Yesterday was a very early morning, except for Alicia who had a very late night. Alicia, who has been having trouble sleeping, took to roaming the halls of the converted convent that we were staying in instead. Hopefully she didn't disturb the priest living there too much. At five thirty, Alicia gave up on trying to sleep and we packed our bags and headed from bus, to bus, to bus before finally arriving in San Gimignano. We had decided to do San Gimignano as a day trip in order to maximize Alicia's time in Italy, so we carried our backpacks down the narrow cobblestone streets, popping in and out of hotels hoping to find a safe place to drop them. We never found a place, but that didn't stop us from exploring the city. From the outstanding 360 degree views of Tuscany to the locals with their horse who we stumbled upon when trying to find shelter from the rain, the whole city took our breath away. We were lucky to get into the town before the all the tourists streamed in and we spent a couple minutes watched the local medieval festival before catching the train to Florence.
The train to Florence was particularly eventful because of our new friend Juan. Juan is a very handsome Peruvian man who is studying economics in Florence. This was the perfect opportunity to practice our Spanish, and in doing so we learned all about his family, his travels and the exciting night he was just then getting home from. By the time we arrived in Empoli (a city just outside of Florence) Juan had given us his facebook, his e-mail and an invitation to spend the night. We regretfully declined and went on are way to Cinque Terre.
We took several more trains before finally arriving in beautiful Monterosso in the early evening and checked in to our fancy one star hotel (which is a major upgrade, by the way). Our room was cute and clean, with a window that looked out over Via Roma (the main street). The bathroom left more then a little to be desired, and reminded us quite a bit of a mobile home bathroom – we pretty much were showering over the toilet.
We headed out for dinner shortly after we arrived, and tried to decide where we wanted to eat – Cute or Happenin'. Cute meant one of tens of little Italian restaurants tucked into the small, winding streets and Happenin' meant Fast Bar. Fast Bar may very well be the only bar in Monterosso and its certainly the only place you can hang out or get a drink after midnight. We decided to do Cute for dinner and Happenin' for after. Dinner was a delicious mix of comfort food (french fries) and local cuisine (swordfish).
After dinner it was time for Happenin'! We walked into Fast Bar, bought some beers and found a crowded table in the middle of the room. Though this bar is run and frequented by locals, it still felt very touristy – even more so after we saw the American dollar bills that lined the walls. We were only sitting for a minute before three shots of limoncello showed up. According the the bartender, they were from the guy with the mohawk sitting at the bar. To be polite, we waved him over and asked him if he wanted to join us. It turns out he is from Sacramento, proof of just how small the world is. He was mildly interesting to talk to, but became less so when he repeatedly forgot the answers to all the questions he asked. After a while, Alicia and Heidi had disengaged themselves from the conversation while I sat chatting with Sacramento when two more limoncello shots showed up. Heidi and Alicia tried to wave over the two guys who had bought them, but were met with confused stares instead. It only took a couple minutes to realize that no one had actually bought us shots and that this was the bartenders ploy to keep us there. According to him, his name is Stupid Cupid and “When pretty girls come into the bar, you have to find some way to make them stay.” Sacramento showed no shame for playing along with Stupid Cupid and we decided to head out after enough matching making from a not so cute cherub.