I’m having a hard time starting this post.  I know that I need to write it before I forget the details of my trip to Italy and Corsica, but I’m sick and exhausted and just want to lay around and watch movies.  Bear with me.

Heidi and I dragged ourselves out of bed at 3:30 in the morning to catch our 6 am flight to Bergamo.  The worst part of taking such an early flight is not waking up, but trying to fall asleep and thinking, “If I fall asleep now, I’ll get four hours…if I fall asleep now, I’ll get three and a half hours…” Luckily, Bergamo is beautiful in the early morning.

We traveled all day to reach Cinque Terre, but it was worth it.  Cinque Terre is a group of five towns on the western coast of Italy, and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.  The houses come down right to the edge of the cliffs, which drop off into the kind of blue water that you imagine seeing on desert islands.

The next day we hiked through all five towns, through the vineyards and along the cliffs, stopping in each town to eat.  The specialty of the region is pesto, and Heidi and I did our best to put a dent in their supply.

The next day we got up early again to meet Alexis and take the ferry to Corsica.  Corsica, at first, seemed like a disaster.  We arrived around noon on Easter Sunday.  We didn’t know how to get to our hotel, which was in a town 20 km away, and there were no trains or buses running.  Eventually, we managed to find a taxi to drive us along a terrible winding road during a rainstorm, worried every moment that the car would just go over the edge.  Because Corsica is mountainous, we were also in the middle of a huge, dark cloud.  When we arrived at the hotel, though, things started to look up.

The place we were staying was owned by a man who owned hundreds of acres of vineyards and made his own wine.  Because we were the only guests in the hotel he gave us a lot of free wine and talked to us in a mix of broken French (mine) and decent Italian (his, Heidi’s and Alexis’s).  I realized while I was there just how much of my French I’ve lost.  To be fair, I only took one year, but tenses, verbs and vocabulary have all gone out the window and what remains has become mixed in with my ten years of Spanish to form some sort of barely-comprehensible hybrid.  “Est-ce que nous vamos a la restaurante?”  I mean, we got there in the end.

The town, St. Florent, was on the northern end of Corsica.  It’s a beautiful resort town full of small cafes and fancy clothing stores.  Because the coast was about 6 km away from our hotel and we had no car, we hitchhiked there and back each day.  Apparently hitchiking (“faire du auto-stop”) is pretty common there, and the people who picked us up weren’t creepy, but mostly older couples who always wanted to know if we were on vacation and where we were from.  The day we were at the beach was a bit colder and windier than we would have liked, but the water and landscape were stunning nonetheless.

From Corsica we made our way to Rome.  Slowly.  Bus to ferry to taxi to train.  When we arrived at our hostel at 10:30 pm, we found out that they had double-booked us.  We were shuttled across town to the Freestyle Hostel, where there was supposed to be a room ready.  Nope.  They took us to an apartment behind the hostel.  The apartment was dark, dirty, and–inexplicably–there was a man sitting on the couch outside of the bedrooms, sleeping.  In short, do not stay at the Freestyle Hostel in Rome.

But anyway, Rome is wonderful.  It has been wonderful every time I’ve been.  I forgot, though, just how exhausting it is.  Every street is crowded, everyone is yelling and every tourist is staring somewhere about fifteen feet off the ground and not paying attention to where they’re going.

My favorite part of Rome is Trastevere, where we ate dinner.  It’s quieter than the rest of the city, more of a neighborhood.  At night its back streets and alleys are all lit up with bars and restaurants and people talking and laughing.  It’s the good parts of Rome with few(er) tourists.

The trip was wonderful, but what I came away with most of all is that I could never live in Italy.  Extended vacationing and eating, yes.  But for living, it’s too unorganized and chaotic for me.  I think I would be much better suited to somewhere like Germany.  Maybe that’s a good thing, though, because it means that Italy will never get old for me.  I’ll always experience it in small enough increments that I will be left wanting to come back, which of course I already do.

P.S.–As always, the rest of my pictures are at kunkelle.smugmug.com