I had a work meeting in Lerici, Italy, and given the many interesting places nearby, I decided to fly out early and spend a day in Florence. Landed in Pisa late on Friday night (around 10pm) and caught the train to Florence. Got into the hotel around 12:30am. Spent all of Saturday exploring the city and caught the Sunday morning train back to Pisa to meet up with colleagues. Despite the short time, I loved Florence for the beautiful art and architecture.
Since we’d already been to Spain (Barcelona) and France (Marseille), we decided to go to Italy for a summer trip. Since we’d been to southern and central Italy (Amalfi, Lerici/Cinque Terre) before, we decided to go north this time, to the lake district. I’d been to Lake Como many years ago for a weekend, and had found it quite beautiful. This time we settled on Lake Garda between Milan and Verona.
I really lucked out in working on a project with colleagues based in La Spezia, Italy, next to Cinque Terre. My last trip there had been in the winter, when things were quite dead. So I was excited when the chance came to go back in the summer. I arrived in Lerici on a Saturday, leaving Sunday free for exploring. Given the gorgeous weather, my colleague and I decided to take the boat from Lerici to Portovenere across the Gulf of Poets.
We had been in Lerici for a week and on Saturday we visited Cinque Terre in gorgeous weather – the forecasted rain never materialized. Any hope of a repeat of the nice weather for our trip to Portovenere vanished the moment we woke up on Sunday morning. Thick gray clouds scudded low across the horizon and a steady rain fell from the sky, quite heavy at times. The forecast called for a possible break in the rain in the afternoon, so we decided to hang around Lerici in the morning and walk around in the rain. The rain didn’t really let up by the time we finished lunch, so we just decided to take our chances and go to Portvenere regardless.
After a week of work in Lerici, we arrived at the weekend ready for a break. Since we were so close, visiting Cinque Terre was the obvious option. We drove to the train station in La Spezia and bought tickets to Cinque Terre. Due to devastating rain and landslides in October, the villages were hurting (especially Vernazza), but they were still open to visitors. A quick 7-min train ride later, we alighted at Riomaggiore, the southern-most village of Cinque Terre. Rain had been forecast for the day, but it turned out quite sunny in the end.
We had arrived into Lerici on Saturday. On Sunday, we had to return to Pisa to pick up another colleague of ours who was coming from the Netherlands. Due to his early evening arrival, we took the opportunity to drive to Pisa in the afternoon to check out the sights. After one wrong turn getting onto the A12 highway which resulted in a 20-min drive in the wrong direction, we made it into Pisa. We found out that non-resident cars are not allowed in certain parts of Pisa, and were a bit concerned about finding parking. But due to it being the off season, we didn’t have to worry — we were able to park only a block away from the Piazza dei Miracoli, and off we went.
Work beckoned overseas again, this time to Italy. The development team I’d be working with was based in La Spezia, Italy, right next to Cinque Terre. Given that La Spezia is a large industrial town, the Italians told us to stay in the nearby town of Lerici for a better experience. Since personally we needed to check out London for neighborhoods we might want to live in, Gen and Aman came along as well. We spent 12 days in Lerici. I spent most of my time in La Spezia with colleagues during the day (a 20-min drive), while Gen and Aman explored Lerici.
After our quick Paris stop, we were off to Italy. We had wanted to go somewhere warm, and settled on the Amalfi coast. Then it was a matter of picking where along the Amalfi coast we would go. Given the scarce parking, we did not want to drive. We wanted to be someplace where we could just relax and walk around a lot; somewhere big enough to keep us interested (in terms of walking paths, restaurants, etc.) for a few days. We didn’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of a big town (like Positano), but also didn’t want a really tiny place (like Atrani). In the end, the town of Amalfi seemed to fit the bill, so that’s where we went.