25 August 2014

cinque terre | riomaggiore (the bumper post!)

I put my name on the wait list for Italian Fix's Cinque Terre in 7 Days tour but didn't give it much more thought.  I figured that if the tour was sold out, there was little chance that someone would drop out at the last minute(-ish).  But then, an email popped up in my inbox ... a place had become available, and it was mine if I wanted it.  To be honest, I wasn't certain that group travel would be for me, but after emailing the ridiculously lovely and ever-helpful Bianca, my gut feeling was that it would actually be a really great thing, and after sleeping on it for a couple of nights, I decided to take the plunge and fill in the registration form.  I thought I would die of nerves.  I actually squeezed my eyes shut (and possibly squealed) when hitting the "submit" button but then, it was done, and all that was left for me was to plan the rest of my trip around the tour.

First up, I have to say this: I cannot recommend Italian Fix highly enough.  Honestly, I had the BEST time.  We had incredible meals, visited beautiful places, and met wonderful people.  That being said, all the planned activities were optional, and we also had plenty of free time built in, which suited me down to the ground (photography time!).  As I mentioned in my last post, we spent six nights based in Riomaggiore, the southernmost of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre.  After looking at so many photographs of the area, it felt kinda surreal to be seeing the town in real life, with its candy-coloured houses clamouring for room on the hillside, sandwiched between vineyards and the blue, blue sea.  I was in Photography Heaven.

We stayed at the Cinque Terre Residence, located at the top of Riomaggiore ...


Many hours were spent talking, eating, and drinking on this beautiful terrace overlooking the town ...


... and this was the view from my front door, eek!  I did a little happy dance :)


On our first evening, we had pre-dinner prosecco at A Pie de Ma (details at the end of the post) ...


... accompanied by this ridiculously awesome view (!!!).  I could have passed out from happiness ...


The town was so very peaceful in the early morning ...


The fruit and vegetables looked and tasted amazing (I snacked on tomatoes and fruit all week!) ...


I loved all the lovely soft colours ...


And here are a few extra shots from another early morning walk that I took around the hill at the top of town ...

Looking towards the sea ...


... and back towards the mountains ...



I spent a long time here, pondering all kinds of stuff whilst gazing out to sea ...





And that's about it!  Just a few photos :)

Riomaggiore recommendations:

A Pie de Ma - Via dell'Amore 55, Riomaggiore
A bar with one heck of a view!

Ripa del Sole - Via de Gasperi 282, Riomaggiore
A wonderful restaurant at the top of Riomaggiore (again, with a beautiful view!).  We had an incredible seafood dinner here on our first night.

Primo Piatto - Via Colombo 72, Riomaggiore
Fab, fresh takeaway pasta for a quick and inexpensive meal (loved the ravioli with walnut sauce!).

Generi Alimentari Costeve - Via Colombo 193, Riomaggiore
This is a small deli/supermarket on the main street that offers freshly-made panini with ingredients of your choice from the deli counter.  A great option for lunch :)



21 August 2014

cinque terre | an afternoon wander around riomaggiore

The Cinque Terre has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, so I was super, super thrilled (as in, walk around with dopey grin-thrilled) to finally visit.  Our Italian Fix group was based in Riomaggiore for six nights, and whilst I have lots to post about the lovely town (and everything else we got up to that week!), for now I will just be sharing some photos from my very first afternoon, when I wandered from our hotel - at the top of the hill - through the town and down to the sparkly sea ...


All photographs © Natasha Calhoun

12 August 2014

italy | lucca

As promised, here are some more photos of lovely Lucca.  Many of them were taken in the early morning, which accounts for the lack of people!  One thing that I did notice about the town was that it could go from being super quiet to completely hectic within what seemed like a matter of minutes (perhaps coinciding with the arrival of bus/train loads of day trippers?) - crazy!

Okay, here we go!

This photo was taken from the top of the Torre Guinigi  on Via S.Andrea.  It was an easy climb to the top, even for me ;) and the entry fee was four euro.  The tower is easy to spot - it has trees growing out the top!


My hotel was in this building, and I loved having a key to get through that beautiful doorway.  The door was so heavy, though - I pretty much had to lean all my weight onto it and puuush with my shoulder, hehe.


The Piazza dell'Anfiteatro is considered by many to be the centre of Lucca, and is encircled by medieval buildings, most of which now house cafes and shops at ground level.  I had an awesome watermelon and vanilla gelato, sitting under one of those umbrellas with Coldplay playing (on the radio, not live) in the background.  I thought that the song Yellow was very appropriate, and remember feeling stupidly happy in that moment.



All photographs © Natasha Calhoun

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