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Paradise in Cinque Terre

As the weeks pass and the winter rain clouds roll in, I find my self missing the summer weather we experienced when we first arrived. We found paradise in Cinque Terre, a series of five villages on the Western coast of Italy. This day trip was one of several excursions arranged through CEA and a personal favorite.
 The gorgeous water glistens below the cliffs of Manarola.

We departed from Florence in the morning, and made the two-hour journey via bus. To reach the five villages of Cinque Terre, we got off the bus in La Spezia and boarded the train that would transfer us between each village. CEA provided every student with a train schedule and day-pass. We were given free reign to move about as we desired, and only needed to meet back in La Spezia at the end of the day.
 The hustle and bustle of the small harbor in Vernazza was the perfect lunchtime view.
 Trofie al Pesto is the local dish of Cinque Terre – delicious!
Most students were in agreement that it would be best to spend more time in fewer places, as opposed to seeing each village. I visited three of the five, and felt it was the perfect use of my time. Each village was small, with its own unique characteristics to offer.
My first stop was Manarola – arguably the most picturesque of the five villages. We took endless amounts of pictures, and watched a handful of the students cliff jump into the crystal blue water below. We boarded the train for the second time and made the 10 minute journey to our second stop, Vernazza.
Vernazza is slightly larger than Monarola, with more places to find a meal with a view – perfect for lunch. We ordered the local dish, trofie al pesto, and watched people swim and kayak in the small harbor. After we ate, we made our final stop.
Monterosso. As soon as the train passed through the tunnel, we saw what we had been missing all day: a busy and expansive beach, filled with students and families alike. We somehow managed to find the rest of our group in the sea of tourists. At this point, we had seen all that we had set out to see, and could spend the remainder of the day in the sand and in the sun.
 A sight for sore eyes: the beautiful, and crowded, beach in Monterosso.

Though I love Florence with all my heart, our day trip to Cinque Terre was a much deserved break from the tall buildings and narrow roads. I highly recommend a journey to this piece of Italian coastline heaven. After all, it's the only place I'm traveling to twice.
Chandler S. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Florence, Italy. She is currently a junior studying Graphic Communications at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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