After living in Italy for seven years in my twenties, I was really excited (and honored) by the opportunity to go back to la bella Italia this time, with my family, to teach a workshop with Bianca from Italian Fix. We were heading to the Cinqueterre…
I’m not gonna lie. Arriving at the hotel in Riomaggiore was a serious MISSION. After our 12 hour flight (Ida was a champ) we spent the night in Florence and then hopped on a train to the Cinqueterre the next morning. It was hot and muggy. We had to change trains which involved a lot of stairs while carrying suitcases and a certain sleepy little munchkin. Once we got to the nearest city, we took a cab to Riomaggiore (one of the five ‘terre’) but the cab could only take us close, not all the way, because cars aren’t allowed in Riomaggiore (or so he told us). Long story only slightly shorter, after wandering around Riomaggiore for about 30 minutes in the blistering heat and receiving ridiculously bad directions from the folks at the tourist office (the hotel is “behind the church”, and of course there are three churches, OY!) I called Bianca quite desperate and she met us and showed us to our hotel which was, a mere 148 stairs up from the main road (yes, I counted). As we lugged our heavy suitcases up the steps (why had I brought three pairs of shoes for 10 days again??) I thought Jason might divorce me.
But when we got to the top, and looked down to see this…almost all of our fatigue and frustrations melted away…
Our hotel, Cinqueterre Residence, was simple and perfect. It had very tasty breakfasts, a killer view and a cool soaking pool (that we dubbed a cool-poozi). After settleing into the hotel, we learned that the cab driver had dropped us off in the wrong place. Had he known where the hotel was, he would have dropped us off at the top of the hill, where cars are allowed and where there are a handful steps down to hotel reception and a pulley for the luggage. Go figure.
Our first delicious meal paired with some exquisite wine and we already felt the schlepp was worth it.
The weekend was spent in Riomaggiore, hiking up and down those steep steps, and keeping cool with dips in the cool-poozi and the Mediterranean and by eating decidedly GINORMOUS gelati. Ida was in heaven. We watercolored, read, and relaxed. It was awesome.
Photo: Zio and Sons
Then I taught my 2-day workshop to a really amazing group of people. The first day was dedicated to tapping into ones creativity and the second day was all about how to apply that creativity to a creative business. It was pretty intense, but in the best way possible. You can read recaps from some of the people who came on the trip here, here and here.
And then after class was over…well, it was time to play!
And EAT! I loved this little hole-in-the-wall spot that made fresh pasta. You pick the pasta, you pick the sauce, they cook it right there and it’s pretty much the best thing ever. There’s a big part of me that wants to drop everything and open up one of these in Silverlake :D
We made it to four of the five terre in the end and stayed at Residence the whole time. I don’t regret that because getting around in the Cinquerre ain’t easy. By the time we got home to the U.S. I was simultaneously refreshed and exhausted. I was proud of us and Ida for taking our first big family trip together. She’s a real trooper and I’m so grateful.
A huge thanks to Bianca for the impetus and the invite, to Jason and Ida for the company, and to everyone who came out to take the Dreamathon course– you guys are so inspiring and I loved spending time with you in Italy!!
And here’s a little cheat sheet in case any of you are thinking about making a trip out:
Trip Organizer: Italian Fix
Where we stayed: Cinque Terre Residence
Favorite Terra: We loved Riomaggiore, but next time, I think I’d stay at Monterosso al Mare because it seemed more kid friendly with easily accessible play grounds and it’s more flat and therefor much easier to get around in. The beaches are also very gentle and swimmable.
What saved us: That fresh pasta spot saved us, because eating out everyday can get really expensive. We ate one meal a day there and spent about $20 for all three of us for a meal.
What we’d do differently next time: Next time I’d try to plan the trip when it wasn’t so hot. Italy in August shuts down–the big cities are kinda dead and the beach-towns are super crowded, so next time I think I’d try and go a bit off season so we could enjoy the beaches a bit more and not bake in the sun.
What I’d do again: I’d take Ida on an international trip again. It was a great experience for the three of us to hang out and experience something so new and different. Ida came back speaking a few Italian words and I’m excited to start planning our next family getaway.