We had class and lab tasting for oak aged wines on Thursday the 22nd, which was one of my favorite days. We tasted 2 Chianti Classico wines, a Rosso di Montalcino, and a Brunello di Montalcino, which was one of my top 5 favorites for the whole month. Marco had a free wine tasting at the piazza, so naturally we went to that before dinner at Tonino’s. It turned out to be Marco’s birthday at midnight, so despite having a test the next afternoon, we ended up going out to The Lion’s Well to celebrate. In the end it was definitely worth it, because I ended up making a 100 on my test 🙂
After our test on Friday afternoon we were free for the weekend. The town had some sort of wax ceremony on Friday night in the main piazza that involved a play of some sorts, dancing, and a marching band. That went on for about an hour and a half, then we headed to The Lion’s Well to ring in Margaret’s 21st birthday at midnight!
We woke up bright and early Saturday morning to leave for another weekend trip, this time to Cinque Terre!! Three train rides later, we got in around lunchtime to Riomaggiore, where our hostel was. I was itching to hike one of the trails that ended with a beautiful view of the neighboring town, and thankfully a few others wanted to do the same! Macey, Hoopie, Caroline, and I set out to hike to Manarola from Riomaggiore, which wasn’t too horrible. The hike ended up taking us about an hour and a half or so, water breaks and picture-taking stops included. The weather was great, perfectly sunny and not too miserably hot, which made for a more enjoyable hike as well. Reaching the peak of the small mountain was one of the coolest views I have seen in my 22 years of living. After trampling down the other side of the mountain into Manarola, we then took the ferry to Monterossa where the rest of our group had found a nice beach to lay out on. Talk about a nice reward after a long hike, I have never been so content with life. We headed back to Riomaggiore by train around 5 to get ready for a birthday dinner for Margaret back in Manarola. The five towns of Cinque Terre are all about a 2-5 minute train ride from each other, so travel is relatively quick when you time the train rides correctly. We got showered and ready in record time (I think it took me all of 12 minutes), before hopping back on the train to Manarola where we had a dinner reservation at Trattoria del Billy. The beginning of dinner was interesting, as the owner essentially came to our table and told us what to order with almost no option…we were all a little taken aback, but it turned out to be one of the best meals I had in Italy. Five or six antipasti plates, zucchini pasta, lobster pasta, roasted potatoes, and the biggest cooked fish I have ever seen. Seriously, the fish was at least 2 and a half feet long…and also 175 euro. Since it was Margaret’s birthday, the waiters felt it was necessary to bring out not only limoncello, but strawberry grappa and some type of licorice drink that tasted like tar. It turned out to be a great night, and we had an amazing view of the sunset from our private room to top it all off.
The next day we were able to sleep in until 9 am! We grabbed breakfast before heading off for the day’s adventures. We took the train to Vernazza, where I opted to take another hike up a mountain in hopes to finally see the view that I have seen from so many of my friends’s instagram pictures. Margaret, Hoopie and I trekked up the hill, then paid the 7.50 euro price to trek the rest of the way up the mountain to get the best view. It was worth every sweat drop and every euro spent, as the view was spectacular. Actually, spectacular doesn’t even cover it. Despite being flooded with other tourists and backpackers, the hike was an enjoyable time, and actually very relaxing. After snapping about 80 pictures at the top, we headed back down to Vernazza to meet up with everyone else for some shopping, beach time, and food before we headed back to Cortona around 4.
This was probably my favorite weekend. Yes I have wanted to visit Cinque Terre for myself for over a year, and yes, it lived up to what I thought it would be, but it was just awesome because it was literally a group of about 16 of us from the Viticulture group that decided to still spend the whole weekend traveling together. Our group throughout the whole month was so awesome, so it was great that we all wanted to travel on weekends together as well. Okay, picture time: