Cinque Terre: Just a Train Ride Away

Looking to fit in a quick last-minute day trip this weekend? Definitely check out Cinque Terre! Explore these five towns and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery the Italian Riviera has to offer. 

Transportation:

  • Take a train early morning from Firenze SMN or Campo Di Marte Stations to La Spezia.
  • From there, take a train to any of the 5 towns: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
  • Be careful about catching your train home: trains back to Firenze will only run so late!
  • Plan your whole train itinerary on the Trenitalia or ItaliaRail websites. The cost of the entire train itinerary should only be about 45 euros.
  • For traveling from town to town, buy a day pass train ticket at any of the train stations in the 5 towns, or they are sold at the booths on the mountains where they sell hiking passes.

What to do:

  • Hike! The five towns of Cinque Terre are built into the mountains of the coast, and most times of the year, you are able to actually hike from town to town! It costs around 8 euros for a day pass to hike between any of the towns, but the views are so worth it!
    • I highly recommend the hike from Vernazza to Monterosso as it is the most famous, or go off the beaten path and try your hiking skills from Vernazza to Corniglia! 984076_1315696511780909_5547079171934619031_n
    • Refresh yourself with a delicious granita drink from vendors throughout the hike! 12987198_1315696441780916_7471731645547527469_n
  • Eat! Cinque Terre is most well known for its pesto and its focaccia. You will see pesto dishes on the menu of every trattoria. For a quick bite, enjoy some focaccia (a thicker type of Italian bread) often topped with cheese or veggies! Oh, and don’t forget to save some room for gelato!12993560_1315695995114294_2926444372913198651_n
  • Shop! Cinque Terre underratedly has some amazing shopping! I recommend the first few towns (Riomaggiore, Manarola). If you’re lucky, you’ll run into some artisans selling their jewelry and art ON the mountains while you’re hiking!

I highly recommend making the trip to Cinque Terre before heading back to the states, you won’t regret it!!

 

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Positively in Love with Positano

You’re lost in your thoughts as the salty ocean wind blows through your hair and the sun shines bright on your shoulders… But suddenly your boat slows. You turn around in your seat away from the endless ocean vista and instead see layers upon layers of pastel buildings, stacked upon each other until they reach the mountains and clouds above. Welcome to Positano.

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A couple weeks ago, I spent a weekend in Positano, a small seaside town on the Amalfi Coast known best for its proximity to both the ocean and the mountains, its numerous varieties of lemons and citrons, and of course, its colorful pastel buildings. I didn’t need an entire weekend to know that I was absolutely, positively in love with Positano!

Most of our days in Positano were spent exploring the town. There’s only one main road that goes through the town, which makes walking the main means of transportation. The town can be difficult to navigate at times – almost all the “streets” are actually staircases and any streets you do find are winding and twisting – but we found that getting lost in Positano is as much fun as reaching a destination. We also religiously followed a rule told to us by the locals: all staircases and main roads that slope down eventually lead to the beach, which is also where the town center is located!

IMGP2391The beach in Positano is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. First of all, the water is an incredibly vibrant shade of turquoise blue. The “sand” is actually made up of pebbles (which hurts to walk across barefoot, but is fun to sit and lay out on). However, my favorite thing about the beaches in Positano is the vast amount of sea glass that covers them. Varying from shades of dark and almost-opaque green to light and transparent turquoise to bright and vibrant shades of royal blue, you won’t be able to resist pocketing a few (or many, in my case) pieces of sea glass.

FullSizeRender-1Positano is also known for its lemons and citrons. They vary in size from small lemons to giant and inedible citrons. If you get the chance, definitely stop by a grocery or a fruttivendolo and pick up one of the citron plants (pictured to the right)! They’re made of mostly rind and there’s actually very little fruit inside, but their size is seriously impressive! Almost all the shops and boutiques sell some form of a lemon product – we saw everything from lemon-scented soaps and candles to lemon-printed aprons and makeup bags! They take their lemons very seriously in Positano.

My weekend in Positano was one of my most relaxing (and therefore favorite) trips since being abroad. From hiking in the mountains to laying out on the beach to shopping in the various boutiques, there is truly something in Positano for everyone!

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Post and photos: Joy Fan

 

Travel Tips: Rome

The beautiful capital city, Rome, is only a short train ride away from Florence and an absolute must see! If you’re traveling on Saturday or Sunday, be sure to look out for the two-for-one deals (two tickets for the price of one) on the fast train. It can make traveling with a friend easier and cheaper, a win-win for everyone!

Must See Places

1. The Vatican

Taking time to visit the holy city center is definitely worthwhile. The famous Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and a chance to see Papa Francesco are all waiting for you within the city walls! Ladies, be sure to cover your shoulders and do not wear shorts in the warmer weather, as dress code is very strict. Buy your tickets online to take advantage of the student discount and avoid the line upon arrival!

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St. Peter’s Basilica 

2. Trevi Fountain

Get ready to channel your inner Lizzie or Paolo and make a wish at the Trevi Fountain. The beautiful masterpiece, designed by talented Nicola Salvi and installed in 1762, is one of the most famous attractions in Rome. Visiting the fountain is free, except for whatever coin you decide to wish on, and make sure you bring your on photographer (a friend will do) as many street vendors try to charge you for pictures. If you’re visiting during peak tourist season (April-October), try to get to the fountain as early as possible to get the best Insta-worthy picture possible!

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Trevi Fountain

3. Colosseum

The Colosseum is another must-see site in Rome! Whether or not you’re a history buff, you’ll definitely enjoy visiting this beautiful amphitheater built around 70 AD. Again, make sure you buy your tickets online to get a student discount and skip the line! A word of caution: many people sell counterfiet tickets on the street so make sure you purchase tickets ahead of time or the official ticket booth!

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Must Eat Places

1. Old Bridge Gelato

Located right outside of the Vatican, Old Bridge has some of the best gelato in town. For only 2€, you can get a giant scoop of your favorite flavor!

2. Hosteria Del Moro

Located in the Trastevere neighborhood, Hosteria Del Moro is a great inexpensive place to grab dinner! For only 20€, you get a delicious 5 course meal including endless wine, appetizers, and several primi and secondi plates! Definitely a great deal for students traveling on a budget.

3. Pizzeria Da Remo

One of the best places to grab a slice (or a whole pie if you’re like us) in Rome. Located in Piazza Santa Maria, this local pizzeria has some of the best pizza for the best price. Enjoy it sit-down style among local families or takeout to the piazza. Either way, you won’t be disappointed!

If none of these catch your eye, or you’re out wandering, check out any of the side streets between the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon!

Nightlife 

Here are a few of the best places for students to live up their time in the old Roman city!

1. Shari Vari (club) Via di Torre Argentina

2. The Drunken Ship (bar) Via del Plebiscito

3. Scholars (bar) Piazza Campo de’ Fiori

 

Fiesole

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This past Sunday, I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and take the short bus-ride up to Fiesole.  In the main piazza, a small market was set up that featured different homemade artisan goods.  Around the piazza were a number of different restaurants and gelaterias that took advantage of the amazing view of Florence.  After checking out the market, I began my walk up the hill through the amazing houses and continually great view.  Towards the top of the hill was the entrance to Monte Ceceri, a beautiful park that had a number of trails equipped for hiking.  Having not seen a lot of nature over the past few months, the hike was a great way to enjoy the weather in a different way than eating gelato outside.  The town also features a number of ancient ruins, including a well-preserved Roman amphitheater and Etruscan temple. Being such a short bus-ride away from Florence, Fiesole is an amazing way to enjoy a nice spring afternoon.

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Contributor: Gabe Silverman