We have finally arrived in Italy!! It was obvious at the first train stop over the boarder. Accents changed, tone was more dramatic and everyone is loader, hands are flying everywhere as people are talking, and I couldn’t be happier! Everyone is very friendly, and most seem to know a little English. I wish I had finished taking a foreign language in high school, it would be so helpful and then I wouldn’t have to feel like such a tourist.
Our first night in Cinque Terre was a late one. By the time we arrived and got to our hotel it was a little late for dinner, even by Italian standards. The half of us that made it off of the final train headed out to the first city, Riomaggiore, where we grabbed some pizza and vino and headed to the rocks along to shore. We watched the last bit of the sunset with our classy meal.
The next two days we explored the complexity of Cinque Terre’s small towns. We have been focusing a lot of our studying on contextualism and place-making. Cinque Terre is interesting in its layering of buildings up the cliffs of the coast. The topography is mostly unchanged and terraces are stacked up the steep incline. The dense streets and uneven and somewhat unpredictable nature of the planning is very interesting in the concept of place-making. Even walking on the streets there is a close sense of space, as if you were indoors.
Our first day we visited the third city, Corniglia, and visited the site of our first studio project. We sketched and studying the space. Which included testing out the local cuisine. So naturally I found the closest tomato, mozzarella, pest sandwich. And it did not disappoint! I took it back to the site and sat and enjoyed the view. After Corniglia we headed to Vernazzi, which seemed like the biggest of the towns that I visited. We followed the steps up to a cafe with an amazing view to sketch the city and drink a cappuccino. I became really interested in the buildings and sort of coding the facades as a map.
The next day we set out for Manarola and explored the streets and found a good swimming hole for later. We set out on a hike between Manarola and Corniglia, the 2 hour hike was steep at first, but once you make it to the top the views were amazing. And up amount the vineyards really brought the whole dynamic of the towns to life. After the hike we took a chilly salty dip in the Mediterranean right off the rocks in Manarola, which may be the highlight of the trip thus far! It was crazy to be floating in the water and look up at the towns and out to the sea.