Girl in Florence aka Georgette Jupe

I started this blog as a writing outlet for me to share what it is I adore about the beautiful city of Florence and Italy also sharing travel tips and stories along the way. Now 'Girl in Florence' includes advice for Florence, artisan features, interviews with locals, tips for life in Italy and travel posts from all over Europe. I'd love to think of myself as a fearless badass but If I am keeping it 100% real on this blog a quote that I sort of live by is"I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

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Cinque Terre for a day

07.05.2014 23 Comments

Cinque Terre for a day

07.05.2014 23 Comments

cin1To see the famous Cinque Terre, a UNESCO heritage site, in the Italian region of Liguria this past week was a treat that I won’t soon forget. While normally I like to savor a place for a few days, I did a typical day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre last Friday to get a ‘taste’ of the place before heading to Levanto the next day as part of the #invasionidigitali [sharing culture digitally] with #welevanto.

I know many tour operators offer this sort of ‘all-day’ tour which allows people to discover an area that once was not so easily accessible or known to the public, that was before the trains were built and Rick Steves encouraged Americans to visit. Some hate Rick for that, but he was only doing his job and I could see what captured his fancy once I too, laid my eyes on this place.

Is this heaven? Plus how could you not love this adorable Italian nonno playing with his grandson 😉

While it’s slightly embarrassing to admit, I had never been to this area of Italy, knew nothing about Liguria – even though I knew it was breath-taking and worth a visit. I suppose it was because I figured I could go at any time and just ended up discovering other areas. I was also intimidated by the thought of so many people visiting such a small place. That being said, of course the first time I did visit, this last Friday, I wanted to slap myself in the face for not going before because it was just so, so beautiful.

A happy Nico turned ‘boat man’ for a day

We hopped on a tour with a new gang Smarttrip, a travel agency specializing in tours like this one bringing you via bus, which had working wifi, to Cinque Terre where you then take trains to move along the various towns. Keep in mind that if you go on your own you can also hike along the paths which are absolutely amazing, some of which were closed still due to the very devastating landslide in October 2011 [highly recommend reading this first-hand account of saving Vernazza by Italy Magazine].

I also recommend getting on a boat which I will touch on a part 2 post about nearby Levanto. We happened to go on a day that was quite rainy & cold but I luckily got a few hours of clear weather, and we went back the following days after basing elsewhere.

Welcome to a ‘Poncho Paradise’ – anyone like yellow?

My favorite photo filter is the ‘umbrella filter’

My first impression upon seeing the colorful facades and bobbing boats in tiny harbors, was just heart-skipping wow. The fact that so long ago people created such beautiful places that before the unification of Italy were not yet accessible by train was not lost on me.

Also because I happened to be there during an Italian ‘ponte’ or holiday, it was super crowded and full of tourists, like myself, filling up the tiny, winding streets. Since the trains are run by uh well trenitalia, that looks like they were last renovated during the unification of Italy, on a busy weekend, expect crowds! Moving from town to town was likened to playing a sort elbow war with many elderly from Poland, which in itself was an experience. We made friends and enemies in countries all over the world ;-).

What I appreciated about Smarttrip was the fact that while we arrived together and the guide explained what to expect and what to see, we basically were on our own to explore and thus not clog up alleyways like other groups tended to do.

Nico photo-bombing a tour group. 

Once again, even after visiting Venice at carnivale, I could not believe how many people filled these tiny streets. It was a complicated feeling because while I myself was there for the same reasons as everyone else, to see this amazing place up close and personal and not just as my PC screensaver background, at that moment just felt like there were too many people.

I know these kinds of towns survive on tourism but surely they must be overwhelmed during the months of May – September. On that note, I later went back on Saturday to Vernazza and it wasn’t as crowded, even if people completely ignore the rope barricades or red-flags to help keep people safe from stormy weather or a dangerous sea.

Every town was a delight for me. From the colorful (and famous facade) of Manarola to the romantic Vernazza, each holds their zone weight in beauty. Here, everyone can pick their favorite. You can spot pretty signs showcasing the famous “via del amore” [which is still closed?] and pretty murals over many of the streets walls showcasing life from the past or the cities aftermath of the 2011 flood.

viaamore In Monorola we snacked on a perfect crunch oily focaccia, a treat famous in this area of italy. In Vernazza we indulged in the famous dessert wine of the area, Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà. An expensive treat mind you but it is made from the best grapes and aged no less than two years which has some of the other towns upset since they say that inferior grapes are now being mixed into the batch. I have to say that while I did enjoy it, it was too expensive for me [around 28-60] euros a bottle which I would at that point rather have a wonderful vin santo dessert wine, that’s just my opinion. 

That tiny glass cost 7 euros 

We ended up getting back to Florence around 7:45 pm, happy, tired and full of good memories, despite the crap weather. I talked to the folks at Smarttrip and they offer this tour to students for only 40 euros (50 with lunch included). You leave the Firenze Santa Maria Novella station at 7am and return no later than 8pm.

*A huge plus was how informed our guide was, I like that even as we left Florence she pointed out and explained various buildings and places to us that I think any student or tourist would appreciate. Plus she told us where to get some absolutely awesome foccacia which was one of the highlights of the day [ you know how much I love food!]. I know that while these tours might be marketed to students, I think as a student, I would have appreciated someone with some real knowledge of the area visited, while also being fun and upbeat.

The Cinque Terre tour includes:

Transportation by fully fitted luxury GT Coach with WIFI, expert multilingual escort, free tour of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Monterosso, Vernazza; Free time to take a swim in the sea; Motor vessel tickets (if the weather is good) Train tickets. More info & booking here. 

*Disclaimer – My partner and I were guests of Smarttrips for the Cinque Terre tour but trust that all opinions and thoughts 100% are my own. 

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GirlInFlorence

Georgette Jupe is a 'Tuscan Texan' digital social media marketing maven based in Florence, Italy. When she's not at her day job as social media manager and content editor at ITALY Magazine, she's creating social strategies for international clients and providing travel, foodie & life tips via her blog 'Girl in Florence'. Hobbies include plenty of reading, hiking, beagle cuddles, the hunt for the 'perfect' Moscow mule and laughs with the girls.

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23 Comments

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    Giovanna Patella 07.05.2014 at 16:12

    Since being introduced to Monterosso, on a trip researching my family roots, this charming place has captured me, heart and soul. I return as often as possible and live in Monterosso every summer ! I am so glad you have finally seen it for yourself and I promise you too will return. When you do , there is a lovely Ristorante hidden on the hill in Monterosso with the most spectacular view and of course great food (they are a part of Slow Food too), IL Ciliengio. If you go in summer, my suggestion would be to go near sunset and then watch as the lights in the town below begin to glow… you may even run into me as I go there quite often! Looking forward to part two of your post.

    • Avatar
      GirlinFlorence 07.05.2014 at 16:22

      Grazie tantissimo Giovanna, I would love to check out this restaurant in Monterosso, I am huge fan of Slow food.. plus this area just really captured me, with all of the beautiful colorful buildings and the very nice people (but really!). Thank you for your wonderful and long comment

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        VM 05.08.2015 at 19:18

        Hi – do we have to show our american us student id?

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    Cindy 07.05.2014 at 17:47

    Beautiful post Georgette. As always, the post made me feel as if i actually got to experience the trip for myself! I would kill for a vin santo and biscotti right now!

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    Lesya Mikhaylenko 08.05.2014 at 15:59

    oh, my beloved 5terre!! miss youuuuuu )))

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    Jen 08.05.2014 at 22:08

    I never pronounce Cinque Terre correctly (pathetic, I know), but it’s on my must-see list. One day I too shall venture there. Great post!

    • Avatar
      GirlinFlorence 09.05.2014 at 8:41

      Hey Jen, it took me a while too and you absolutely should discover it one day – beautiful place!

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    hannah 11.05.2014 at 20:43

    Did you notice my name and that of my beloved on the wall of the VIA DELL` Amore? HAN

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    bobblesse 12.05.2014 at 15:55

    Thanks, so much for this informative post and your wonderful photos, Georgette. Vicki and I can’t wait to visit this lovely piece of Italian coastline with all it beautiful colors. There is so many places to visit just in Tuscany once we get settled there this fall and I’ll bet Sept/Oct is a good time to visit Cinque Terre.

    • Avatar
      GirlinFlorence 14.05.2014 at 8:33

      Thank you Bob! You guys will certainly have an amazing time, its just so beautiful and the colors are jaw dropping! September, early october is one of the best times to visit Cinque Terre 😉

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    caro 07.10.2014 at 14:08

    am off to Cinque Terre tonight for four days, very excited, hoping the hiking will balance out the wine and pasta!

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      GirlInFlorence 07.10.2014 at 14:21

      I’m sure it will, I think this is a fab time of the year to go, have fun!

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    Cindy 26.01.2016 at 0:49

    So, just found out my girlfriend will be taking us to cinque terre in June, so I had to re read this post in anticipation!!! Half the fun of traveling is learning about these incredible places/culture before I step foot on a plane;)! So excited!

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      GirlInFlorence 26.01.2016 at 10:00

      How exciting! I am sure you will have a wonderful time 🙂

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    Betty 22.03.2016 at 15:03

    Any recommendations of where to stay either in Levanto or Cinque Terre for a 2 day visit?

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      GirlInFlorence 22.03.2016 at 15:44

      Hotel Garden is a nice choice, I love their terrace 🙂

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        Bettt 22.03.2016 at 16:49

        Thanks but unfortunately it is not available. If you have any other suggestions please let me know.

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        Betty 03.04.2016 at 21:40

        Thank you. I found a reservation at Hotel Carla (265e for 2nights $$) in Levanto and a B&B Ivo runs in Vernazza for (130e 2nights). Do you recommend one town over the other?

        Thanks so much for your help!
        Betty
        PS-My daughter Jackie, a Marist Italy-LDM student recommended I ask you.

        • Avatar
          GirlInFlorence 04.04.2016 at 8:53

          I am partial to Levanto only because there is more going on at night while Vernazza is very small. Both are lovely though!

          • Avatar
            Betty 05.04.2016 at 1:28

            Thank you!

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    Bettt 22.03.2016 at 16:40

    Thanks so much. Unfortunately, they are not available. If you have any other suggestions please let me know.
    Betty

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    Disha 16.06.2017 at 23:48

    Hello! Loved reading about your trip and it made me more excited about mine coming up! I will be traveling to Florence with my boyfriend in August. We would like to take a day trip to Cinque Terre with a quick stop to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa beforehand. I wanted your advice on which town(s) you would recommend in a half a day or so. We would probably reach Cinque Terre around noon. I don’t even really know where to start my research. I have looked up the basics on each of the 5 towns, but I don’t know what will be feasible in the amount of time we have. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

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    Aparna Pande 16.05.2018 at 21:28

    Hi, I noticed on their website that Smart Trips is mainly targeting students, age 29 and under. They definitely have great prices. I am 42 and will be in Florence this summer with my healthy, energetic parents (around age 70) and adventuresome children (age 9).

    I saw on TripAdvisor that some 50 year olds inquired directly with the company and they responded that as long as they were aware that the trips were for younger folks it would be okay for them to still join the group.

    Based on your experience of the tour, do you think we would enjoy the SmartTrip to Cinque Terre for a day or would it be impacted in some way that we should give some thought to?

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    About Me

    About Me

    Hi There!

    Ciao, I'm a curious American "Tuscan Texan" who calls Florence, Italy home for the past 11 years. I am the editor at Italy Magazine and I also work as an established digital social media marketing strategist (5+ years) as well as a freelance writer. My bylines have appeared in Lonely Planet, Luxos Magazine, and International Living. This blog is my way to share what life is like living and working abroad, as well as provide up-to-date true advice on traveling and living in Italy, weekend trips around Europe, and a monthly roundup of interesting events. I'm married to a wonderful Frenchman and we have a Florentine beagle who rules the household. Keep in touch with our adventures with your favorite glass of franciacorta or espresso!

    Georgette

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