I might have mentioned earlier that my trip to Italy, was a.. shall we call it, turning point, in my life. That summer was the great "aha moment" when I realized if I set my mind to something, I can actually do some pretty amazing things. Crazy what kind of things travel teaches us!
Manarola was one of these great achievements.
I was initially visiting my home country, Poland, when my family had the absolutely brilliant idea to take a trip and drive down to Italy. (yay road trips!)
I was complete ecstatic at the thought as Italy was always a huge dream of mine. My stay at home was pretty intensely packed with other sub-trips, as you will, and activities of sorts, so I heavily relied on my aunt and uncle when it came to planning our Italy trip, because I simply did not have the head for it.
We drove west through northern Poland, then south the German highway and through Austria, until after 13 hours or so, we reached Italy.
We had all sort of plans for our stay in Italy, besides lazy-ing around the pool and soaking up the sweet, sweet sun. One of these plans was to go see this Manarola.
Now get this - when my uncle proposed this idea, I had no clue where that was! (I know, I know, for an Italian lover I really hadn't done my homework) So I was completely clueless as to what I was about to experience that day.
We got in the car and drove and drove and drove for hours. We were camping out by Lago di Garda so it took us roughly 4 hours to get there.
It was a beautiful, sunny morning and I remember killing the drive by diving into a good book, ('The Girl on the Train' that I had purchased in Warsaw, to be exact) until a glimpse of something sparkly caught my attention. We had approached the winding coastline, out looking the Adriatic Sea which danced with the reflection of sun rays making the water look as though covered with thousands of shiny diamonds. Needless to say I ditched the book and was sucked to the car window for the remaining of the drive.
My first impression of Manarola was "What an adorable, romantic, little, Italian village." The curvy, brick road was snuggled by cottages, groomed with rustic shutters and clean laundry. The open windows let out laughter and clinking of plates as the village, though small, is full of life!
It seemed that around every curve of the peaceful road, the views got more and more breathtaking.
Then it hit me. The tourists!!! Everywhere!
How did all these people know about this beautiful little gem, and I didn't?
It was mid September and the day was hot, to say the least. This did not stop people from lingering around. Turns out, Manarola is quite a popular destination for travelers from all over. You know, the ones that did their homework!
We walked through allies lined with souvenir shops, ice cream parlors, and pizza joints, until we reached the edge of the coastline, lined with sailboats, kayaks and ferries.
The water below looked scrumptious and I was ready to dive right in. There were plenty of people who had the idea before me and in the heat of the sun, were seen cooling off in the crystal waters.
Exploring Manarola made me realize how many breath taking places there are around the world that I yet have to explore. Seeing just a glimpse of the Italian views and culture made me feel so small in such a big world filled with beautiful scenery, putting my own problems way out of sight.
Then I found out, Manarola has sisters! Yes! There's more!
Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia and Riomaggiore.
There's an old, goat path that connects the five sisters and I'd really like to go back and hike it. It apparently can be done in 7 hours, but my cardio kind of sucks and I like to stop and take pictures (a lot) so I think I'd like to give myself 2 days and spend a night somewhere in between. Maybe in a colorful house, maybe on a boat, maybe under the twinkling stars. Wherever it may be, I'll be sure to keep you posted!
Arrivederci, mia cara!