28.06.2010 85 °F
Most of our day yesterday was consumed with hiking. In Cinque Terre, you can purchase a pass which allows you to hike between five seaside towns. We started with breakfast in the morning (cappuccinos and tomato, mozzarella and focaccia sandwiches) and then headed off along the trail. The hike itself was indescribably beautiful. Not only were we surrounded by the sea and an outstanding city scape, but we also trekked through vineyards, and lemon and olive trees. As the afternoon progressed, the heat brought out the smell of thyme, basil and lavender that was growing nearby. We even sampled some of the olives, although the were far from ripe (read: smaller than a pea). As we got further along in the hike, we climbed up and down the hills, across waterfalls and stone bridges and passed houses built right into the side of the mountain. I had some questions, so I put Alicia in charge of the history and she told me a nice little story about how the trail originated. I'm sure she had no idea what she was talking about, but she was pretty convincing all the same.
We arrived at the first town, Vernazza, about an hour and a half into the hike. Almost as soon as we arrived we met a group of four Canadian guys who were spending a month together in Europe. We ended up having lunch with them from a local pizzeria and then heading down to the water. It didn't take long to realize that these Lebanese Canadians were a fun group of guys. Alicia and I laid on the rocks and chatted with Billy and Pedro (or was is Sandro?) while Heidi took a dip in the water with Kahlil. After sponging for quite a while, we decided to move on the next portion of the hike and after much debating and a few “Seize the Day” speeches from Kahlil, the guys decided to as well. Although we were initially going to go together, we split up when we got stuck in a very long line for a very dirty bathroom. About another hour and a half later we arrived in another beautiful town, Corniglia, which sits high above the sea. We quickly found a small restaurant with outdoor seating shaded by the branches of grape vines. While there, we enjoyed a delicious cheese plate, paired with fig spread and honey with a big bottle of sparkling water; the perfect way to end our hike. Before we jumped on the train we sampled some more of the local gelato and briefly joined in a local soccer game.
We decided to end the night with dinner on the water. While our food was relatively unremarkable, the view was beautiful. As soon as we finished, the guys we had met earlier strolled in to finish their evening with tea. We ended up joining them, having tea and interesting conversation. We found the guys to be charming and entertaining; before we knew it we had somehow ended up playing ice breakers (stopping just short of truth or dare). Heidi and I decided to swing by Fast Bar with them for a beer before heading to bed, while Alicia made it an early night. We sat and chatted with the guys some more and they told us a little bit more about themselves, including just how great they really are. Maybe a little arrogant, but fun all the same. And not too hard on the eyes, either...
Today has arguably been the best day yet. We slept in and then headed down to the beach where we rented lounge chairs and did just about nothing. After a couple hours we headed to the bar, where we were greeted by a pair of adorable guys who told the woman taking our order that we should stay in the bar area inside of going back to the beach. This way we could be served by a couple handsome Italian men... Heidi and I were more than a little intriguing. We did end up taking our drinks back to the beach, but not before Heidi was sprayed by Mario with tonic water. A little bit later, while Heidi and I were taking a dip in the water, Mario came over and chatted with us. It turns out Mario is actually named Stefano and is planning a trip to Sacramento to run a marathon in December. Stefano was quick to mention that there have been four women from California who have married Italian men and moved to Cinque Terre. Alicia, Heidi and I now have hope to be the fifth, sixth and seventh Californians. We chatted with him for a while, before I invited them to dinner with us that evening. Stefano thought this was a great idea, but that we should get dinner to go and eat it on the beach instead. We made plans to meet at nine, and finished our day on the beach with kayaking around the sea.
Before dinner we went to get a little snack at a local pizzeria and that's when we met Ivano. Ivano is quite possibly the most beautiful man living in Italy. During the off season, when he's not playing professional soccer, he works in a restaurant in Cinque Terre charming the tourists. When the restaurant slowed down a little he joined us at our table and before long we had plans to meet him later in the evening as well.
We arrived a little late for dinner with the local bartenders and lifeguards, but still early enough to help them set the table (something we're getting quite used to). We were a little surprised that we were setting the table for twelve, until we realized that we weren't the only girls who had been invited to this romantic dinner. And I thought this was my idea?! The girls started arriving in groups, and quite quickly we felt as if we were participating in the filming of a Bachelor episode. Though the ratio wasn't in our favor, we definitely captivated the interest of the two cutest Italian men there, Stefano and Mario. We eat, drank and chatted until it was time to clean up and head to Fast Bar (where else?). The usuals were already there when we arrived and we turned a quick shoulder to Sacramento and Stupid Cupid. Instead we chatted with the locals until Ivano finally arrived and Alicia and I stared at him dreamily until it was time for the bar to close. Stefano and Heidi spoke enthusiastically about running, and he even joked about coming by 47th street after his marathon.