Oh, Bella Italia - Cinque Terre & Portofino

We made our way to two of my dream places - Cinque Terre & Portofino, on the beautiful Italian Riviera..

Ah, italia. 
What a beautiful, beautiful place. 
I remember when I was on Tumblr years ago, and I saw a picture of this little town called Riomaggiore, and another of Manarola. The places just looked so magical to me. I then heard of Portofino a few times and loved how beautiful it was. 

So, for my birthday, we jet off to see our friends Janeth & Marco who are now living out there, and they took us down to the towns that were on my dream list for years. 

Living in the U.K., I feel like sometimes we all take for granted how easily we can get around Europe - especially when so many people are dreaming of coming here. I absolutely love the fact that we can get to Italy in two hours! 
So we flew to Turin after pulling an all nighter for one of my closest friend's wedding (find the post on it here) and the next day we made our way to Cinque Terre. 

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Tips on Cinque Terre:
1. don't try to drive there! It takes at least an hour to get between the towns, but only a few minutes between each town. If you pay for an all day ticket (€16), you will have unlimited access to the train, toilets, wifi, and all the hiking trails. Drive to Levanto or La Spezia and take the train from there.
2. If you're pushed for time, you CAN totally see all five towns in one day! Although you will need to get up early to do that.
3. There are beautiful hiking trails, but some paths are closed due to landslides until probably next year. 
4. The best view in Manarola is from the cemetery. There's not many tourists there either! 
5. Try to go in early May or later in September to beat the crowds! And wake up early too. 
6. Have some gelato by the sea. So good! 

So as soon as we reached Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre, we went through the tunnel towards the sea and the smell of the sea wafted to my nose and I immediately felt at home. I'm always attached to the sea and warmth so to me it was like a breath of fresh air. We grabbed some pizza to take away and enjoyed it at the top of the cliff by the sea. We head down towards the rocks (the best place for pictures) and made our way further round after. I stumbled upon a couple getting engaged too!! How cute & magical is that! 

After our stroll, we went up the other side of Riomaggiore and grabbed some coffee (juice for me of course). We then headed towards Manarola, the beautiful town with all the colourful houses on a hill. Like I mentioned before: the best view is from the cemetery. Such a beautiful town, I wish we would've spent a little more time there to enjoy it. 

Next, we went to Vernazza to have some gelato. The best view of Vernazza is on the hiking trail about a 15 minute walk but we didn't go up unfortunately! We wanted to be able to relax and have some gelato by the sea and go into the next town. We finally head towards Monterosso al Mare - the one with all the colourful umbrellas. Unfortunately it was about to rain so we didn't get to enjoy the beach much! But it's definitely worth it for the dip. 

After that, we head back towards our Airbnb in the mountains. It had such an awesome pool overlooking the mountains - I would totally recommend it! Find the link to it here. But just beware, it is in the middle of the forest, so if you're not good with bugs like me, just make sure you have someone with you that is!! 

It was pouring rain so we head out for pizza and rushed back in. The next morning, we didn't stay there for too long, but made our way towards Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure, and Portofino. I'd heard of Portofino before and saw a few pictures which already made me want to go. But being there is totally different! We had some lunch in Rapallo which looks so much like Monaco by the sea side. We then head towards Santa Margherita Ligure to park because it's so expensive to park in Portofino! We decided we would walk instead of taking the bus, and I'm so glad we did! We got to enjoy the sights and surroundings so much more, and we really got to enjoy the seaside that way. When we arrived at Portofino, we made our way down and around the little town. I found the most gorgeous starfish earrings and postcard at this cute little place called Mara Sanguineti so I just had to get them! If you want anything cute from Portofino, this is definitely the place to go. We took in the sights and head back towards Santa Margherita again, and we stopped by a swimming spot which was just so perfect! It was almost as if the sea was a giant pool and they had a ladder to help you go in. It was just so nice to be able to swim! We made our way back to Janeth & Marco's place after we all had a good swim & dried up. 

On our final day, it was more of a relaxing day rather than exploring. We went up to the Hotel Castello Santa Vittoria which has such beautiful views and lounged by the water. 

Over all, we had such a magical and wonderful mini trip for my birthday - I'm so grateful to have the opportunities to meet with friends we've made on our journey and spend time with them past the English borders. It's always a little hard to part with the warmth & sea for me, but I've learned (and am continuing to learn) to be grateful for London and what we've got here. We've got a great church with amazing people (and lots of pink places lol), and as hard as it is to leave places that I love much, it's lovely to come back to people who love and care for us here. 

That's it for now!
Nat xx

"He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you." 
Psalms 91:4-7 NLT

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