Fun fact: 99% of my time in Italy has consisted of me having 0% of an idea of what I’m doing. The beauty of this in Italy: it’s absolutely OK.
Exhibit A: Weekend trip to Cinque Terre
- It’s 4:35AM, a group of 5 guys (me included) get off the overnight train from Rome to Riomaggiore, the southernmost city in the 5-city circuit. Did we bother to book hostels before arriving? Absolutely not. The only solution to this “dillema”? Posting up outside a medieval castle and passing out until the sun came up. Duh. Let me tell you, the view from this castle that overlooked all of Riomaggiore was spectacular. The whole weekend, you could say was completely lucky weekend. We eventually found somewhere to sleep, and paid 20 euros each for an apartment that housed all of us. Did I mention that Cinque Terre is absolutely stunning, and is located on the Mediterannean? Naturally, we spend most of our time on the beach and in the water. We even had the opportunity to kayak and climb some awesome rocks in the middle of the ocean. Casual.
Riomaggiore in all its glory.
The view from our apartment in Riomaggiore
Some good ole wandering around in Manarola. I picked those right off a vine.
Monterosso at night
Exhibit B: Sagra Dell’Uva in Velletri
- 1:30PM. A group of 8 friends get off of a one hour train from downtown Rome’s Termini station and step into Velletri, a residential village having their 82nd annual Sagra Dell’Uva (Grape Festival), or so we thought. Let me tell you, I’ve never seen a ghost town before, and Velletri would have been an image supplement in a dictionary for a ghost town. After some exploring, we found out that the festival didn’t actually begin until later that evening, like 6PM later that evening. After some professional bumming around at a local cafe and casual wandering, the time came for the festival to begin. It was stunning. If there’s anything that makes me happy, it’s people happy to promote their culture. People of all ages were dressed in traditional Italian clothing, singing and playing instruments, and waving that good ol’ tricolored flag. The small town was decked out from head to toe. Do you know those fake grapes our moms used as a centerpiece for a dining table? Well, in Velletri, they used real grapes to decorate everything, even the fountain in the square. As you’ve probably already guessed, the wine flowed throughout this city like the Tiber in Rome. We even had the opportunity to sample wines from the surrounding areas (10 glasses for 5 euros, how could we pass that up?). After our fill of wine and ciambelle (an Italian doughnut, but significantly more delicious) it was time to head back. This day, was literally the definition of happiness and perfection. Do I still consider myself lucky to be here? You bet.
Remember those decorations I talked about? Oh yeah, real grapes.
Pure Happiness. Thank you, Velletri.
Till next time,