I should add that the backpack is empty in this photo! See below for the full pack.
Let’s set the stage for this post.
In high school I went away for the weekend and packed a full-size suitcase. Yes, I managed to shove my sleeping bag in there as well, but that moment vividly stands out as the moment I recognized my true, suitcase-jamming-self. My name is Kat, and I am a chronic over-packer.
I’m starting off here, because I want to say, if I can manage to pack for 2 weeks in Europe in only a backpack, so can you.
At the last-minute before we went on our trip, we decided to spend a day or two in Tuscany. After some research, we decided that exploring the Chianti region of Tuscany made the most sense as we were coming from Florence.
We rented a car (which I’ll detail down below) and thought we’d take Route 222, also known as the “Chianti Road” down to some smaller towns we wanted to visit – Greve, Radda, Castellina, Panzano.
I’m not one for bucket lists, but visiting Italy is definitely one of the few items on my life “wish list”. I had always pictured myself studying abroad while I was in school, and that would be my way to get there. But one thing led to another and I couldn’t carve out the time to do so. (One of my few regrets.) Not only did I imagine myself visiting Italy someday, I specifically envisioned myself in Florence.
Cinque Terre is a UNESCO world heritage park, and it’s easy to see why. The area is full of natural beauty that should be preserved. In 2011, Cinque Terre suffered from flash flooding and mudslides, and the area was massively devastated. It has since rebounded, and, as an outsider, I would have never guessed. With the exception that several of the hiking trails were still closed. The trailheads from Riomaggiore to Vernazza were closed, leaving only the Vernazza to Monterosso trail open – which is lucky for us because it’s the longest and hardest (!)
I have many happy places, and I’m officially adding Vernazza to that list.
I had heard so many wonderful things about Cinque Terre, I was starting to wonder if it could all possibly be true.
The roads of Rome are hard on your feet. I loved my Merrell sandals!
Rome again, Rome again. Jiggity jig.
I failed to mention this in my last post. We trip-journal. I’d definitely recommend it. At the end of every day we each record the events of that day from our own recollections. It’s funny to see what we each remember differently. Plus, 12 days of vacation can turn into a giant blur if you don’t write it down each day!
When in Rome. All roads lead to Rome. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
There’s a reason Rome is a natural part of our vernacular.
Essa è viva! She is alive!
I’m current riding the simultaneous waves of post-vacation euphoria, jet lag stupor, and grapefruit gelato withdrawal. In a word, our trip to Italy was dreamy.