Cinque Terre Travel Diary

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When my sisters and I booked our trip to Italy, Cinque Terre was at the top of my list of places that I wanted to visit. Cinque Terre is composed of five fishermen villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso. The villages are perched up on the mountains along the coast with trails that connect the towns. Rather than staying in one of the villages, we rented a large apartment in La Spezia, a port town just outside of Cinque Terre. It was a charming city with orange trees dotting the sidewalks, laundry lines hanging between buildings, and balconies overflowing with colorful plants.

We planned to spend two days on the water; one day to hike and another to wander through the little towns. Unfortunately, the train was on strike one of the days, so we had to take a bus to Cinque Terre, and it only traveled to Riomaggiore. We still managed to visit all but one village, though (and now we have a reason to go back someday!).

EXPLORE

Hike the Trails // Hiking between towns will offer the best views, not to mention a way to work off the gelato and pizza as well. Because we went at the start of the season, some trails were closed. When we took the train to the villages, we inadvertently got off at the wrong train stop and ended up hiking the hardest path of all from Monterosso to Vernazza. When you factor in a slight detour (one wrong turn and we were literally on the edge of a cliff), a thousand-step incline, grumbling stomachs, and only a few ounces of water, we had a killer workout.

Catch the Sunset // After hiking through the late afternoon and walking up and down the cobblestone streets in Vernazza, we hopped back on the train to Manarola to watch the sunset with a glass of wine in hand.

WEAR

Cinque Terre is extremely hilly, so even if you don’t plan on hiking and just want to explore the towns, you’ll still want to wear something comfortable. I stuck to slip-on Converses and boyfriend jeans–I could live in these! The temperature on the trails varied a bit, making layers necessary. A lightweight blanket scarf, like this one, is my favorite accessory when traveling.

windowpane top // boyfriends jeans // Converses // scarf // sunglasses

EAT

La Lampara Ristorante // When it comes to pizza, I’m pretty picky. We ordered three different pizzas for lunch at La Lampara, and they all met my checklist: doughy crust, light sauce, and well-proportioned toppings.

Aristide // While waiting for a train back to La Spezia, we stopped in Aristide to warm up. I tried their hot chocolate, which was unlike anything I have ever had before–it had the consistency of pudding and was super rich. So good!

Pulcinella // We had planned to go to another restaurant down the street, but it was closed that night. Instead, we stumbled into Pulcinella, a family owned pizzeria that is a favorite among locals. The night ended with limoncello shots, which quickly became a post-dinner staple throughout the week.

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Cinque Terre 2

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Cinque Terre 3

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Milan Travel Diary

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I’ve been back in the US for exactly one week, and the nostalgia is already hitting me hard. I’ve had a serious craving for pecorino cheese and spicy salami–so much so that I willingly went to Wegmans on a Sunday afternoon to check out their selection. Italy was everything that I hoped it would be, from the friendly people to the amazing food and scenic views. Our first stop was Milan, a city that I obviously loved for the fashion.

EXPLORE

Duomo di Milano: It’s no wonder that Milan’s cathedral is one of its most famous landmarks. The weather was gorgeous when we arrived–blue skies and in the low 60s–so we left our luggage at the train station and headed to the city square to enjoy the sunshine. We first toured the cathedral, taking in the intricate architecture and beautiful stained glass windows, then climbed to the top for panoramic views of the city.

Teatro alla Scala: If you ever have a chance to go to the Teatro alla Scala, you must go! We went to see the ballet and it was amazing. The accompanying music was by Bach, which was incredible too.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: The Galleria, a glass and iron-roofed arcade, houses many flagship stores, like Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci.

Via Montenapoleone: Possibly the best shopping in all of Italy, Via Montenapoleone is a street in Milan lined with designer shops and boutiques. We spent the afternoon walking up and down the street, admiring the storefronts with beautiful displays and stopping in a few places.

WEAR

The locals in Milan were so effortlessly chic–I found myself inspired by the street style and constantly taking mental notes. I tried to pack as minimally as possible (though I still had a suitcase that weighed in at 51.0lbs…), so I brought versatile pieces that I could easily transform throughout the week. A leopard print clutch pairs surprisingly well with a lot, and a classic trench coat is functional yet flattering. As soon as I saw this belted dress (under $70!), I knew it would be a great piece and couldn’t wait to wear it in Italy. I was also finally able to wear the newest addition to my shoe collection, being sure not to ruin them on the cobblestone!

trench (similar) // belted dress // heels // leopard print clutch // watch

EAT

Luini: Oh my gosh. The small bakery is best known for its panzerottis, fried dough filled with mozzarella and red sauce, and they were one of the best things that we ate on the entire trip.

Park Hyatt: After the ballet, we went to the Park Hyatt for cappuccinos and tiramisu. The bar had a cool, low-key vibe that was perfect for unwinding after a long travel day.

CioccolatItaliani: We waited in line for over 30 minutes, but the gelato was well worth it. Creamy, expertly scooped, and friendly service!

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Milan 1

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trench (similar) // belted dress // heels // leopard print clutch // watch

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Up, Up, and Away

Jimmy Choo pumps

When you come across a flight to Europe for less than a pair of Jimmy Choos, you can’t pass up the opportunity to travel. My sisters and I cleared our schedules without hesitation and are leaving tonight on a redeye flight to ITALY! It will be my first time in Europe, and I’m so, so excited to explore a new culture (and obviously eat gelato for ten days straight). I’ve gotten pretty good at the spontaneous trip thing, but planning for an international vacation within a matter of a few weeks required serious cramming. If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear from you! In an attempt to make room for an extra set of heels, I’ve left my computer at home, but you can follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat (@colleenkoches).

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