Florence & The Cinque Terre

Two months ago my partner and I went to Florence and the Cinque Terre.  It feels like a lifetime away.

I still have some chores to do in relation to the trip:-

1. Send thank you card and email to the lovely, lovely people we stayed with in Florence;

Well, I took a break from writing this post to send off the email.  And now, it is done.

2. Show you pictures from the trip;

That’s the whole point of this post, right? I’ve been a bit conflicted, however, because many of the better photos were taken by my partner.  I feel like a fraud showing you HIS photos.

A postcard-esque image: the Tuscan Countryside and the house we stayed in.

The Tuscan Countryside and the house we stayed in. <photo taken by my partner>

3. Send off the postcards that I bought for specific individuals because the cards were just so ‘them’.

My partner and I are notoriously bad at sending postcards from our holiday destinations to our family and friends.  Often, I write on them while we’re away.  Then, the postcards come home with us and I look at them and think, “Argh! I can’t send that now, with a UK stamp.”  Sometimes, I defiantly send them anyway.  Sometimes, they languish with all my other travel paraphernalia (I am an incorrigible collector of receipts, tickets, pamphlets and business cards because I am thoroughly rubbish at buying souvenirs) and years later I am startled by them when I procrastinate from other tasks by tidying my travel miscellany.

Mostly, I find writing postcards thoroughly unsatisfying. I can never think of anything interesting or witty until right near the very end by which time I am out of room and have to sign off.  Postcards, unlike letters, seem completely divorced from their audience.

I must remember though that I love receiving postcards.  Therefore, I should send them because I am sure the recipients, too, love receiving them, irrespective of the pap I write on the obverse.

A postcard-esque picture if I say so myself: view of the River Arno from the Ponte Vecchio.

A postcard-esque picture <if I say so myself>: view of the River Arno from the Ponte Vecchio.

Our visit to the Cinque Terre was an exercise in serendipity.  We had planned to hike in the Apennines for half of the trip.  I thwarted this plan by twisting my ankle on our first day in Florence.  The ankle twist was worsened by the fact that I was carrying a backpack weighing approximately 15kgs and, for comedic effect, had just declined an offer for someone else to take the pack off me.  Stupid pride (comes before an ankle sprain I hear).

My partner, because he is cruel and horrible, finds this picture hilarious.  Me, exiting the duomo, with walking stick.  photo by my partner, naturally

My partner, because he is cruel and horrible, finds this picture hilarious. Me, exiting the duomo, with walking stick. <photo not taken by me>

After tossing ideas back and forth about what we could do with the last half of our trip, we suppressed our fear that the Cinque Terre would be overflowing with tourists and decided to go there as it was (1) easy to get to, (2) easy to get around  and (2) not a city.  I craved countryside, a dash of wilderness, open spaces.  Florence was claustrophia-inducing and overrun with tourists like ourselves.

Does dinner get more idyllic than this?

Does dinner get more idyllic than this?

On our first night, we bought a picnic dinner of antipasti (salami piccante, prosciutto al crudo, pecorino cheese, olives and the most deliciously sweet tomatoes ever), which we ate at a deserted cafe and lookout point in the Torre Guardiola.

Our idea of a ‘relaxing’ holiday is not like most people’s.  But my ankle and the need to change accommodation halfway through our holiday enforced a more relaxed holiday upon us than we would otherwise have had, had we been left to our own devices.  Though we walked the entire coastal path linking the five villages (hence the name Cinque Terre), we did so over two days, with rest days between each, during which my partner drew, I read, and we meandered down to the sea and I was too afraid to swim in it.

We sat upon these white rocks for a solid two hours, idling.

We sat upon the white rocks for a solid two hours, idling. Riomaggiore Harbour by me.

The very picture of peace.  Riomaggiore Harbour.

The very picture of peace. Riomaggiore Harbour.

To take the above photo, I lay sprawled on the rocks trying to get as low down as possible, without falling into the water.   I wanted the blue boat on its own, but no contortions (and I tried a few) enabled me to frame the picture without other boats.

And, lastly, there were many, many window boxes filled with flowers and I thought of you, Wandering Chopsticks, and your love of them.  So here’s a photo that I asked my partner to take for you:-

It was midday.  The light was not great but the flowers are.

It was midday. The light was not great but the flowers are.



  1. So relaxation and a slower pace was forced upon you — and you seem to take it very well! I love the intense blueness and sunshine of the photos, like the blue boat on the blue water against the blue sky. Your picnic meal looks idyllic indeed. I can imagine you both sighing as you bite into a ripe tomato 🙂


    1. nikkipolani
      Oh, the Italian sky was just magic and everything is so very colourful in Italy. And it’s warm enough that if you’re a keen photographer, you can head out early or stay out late to capture the best of the light. I’m not an early riser, however!

      little warthog
      Thanks! Hmm, yes, novelty would wear off getting postcards that much! But you do get some v. amusing postcards from north Qld…

      wandering chopsticks
      Just you wait, Missy.

      I’m so glad we ended up going to the Cinque Terre. It’s not really the sort of place we would have picked if I was in full physical form, but it was stunning – and getting to see an Italian riviera was interesting.

      I also climbed all the steps to the top of the duomo in Florence. I did get some funny looks from other tourists while ascending. But I’m touristing! I can’t miss out!


  2. what gorgeous pix! seems like you guys had a fabulous holiday despite the walking stick.

    the only person i get postcards from is my mother – almost daily when she’s on one of her caravan trips (usually somewhere along the north qld coastline). novelty wears off with that level of frequency…


  3. Aww, thank you. I do love that photo! I only made it to Sorrento as we were occupied with Pompeii and did not get to explore the Cinque Terre before we had to leave.

    I’ve been waiting and waiting on your Italy posts!

    I send postcards to my parents, sister, and cousin’s kids. That’s it. Well, the kids are now all in their late teens and probably don’t care anymore, but they thought I was the cool, adventurous auntie when they were young. Did you write one to me? Hint. Hint. 🙂


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