This post continues our time in Italy.
Read Day 1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 here, Day 6 here and Day 7 here. – Read Day 9 here & Day 10 here.
Today we had a Pesto making class reserved at Nessun Dorma in Manarola.
However, my hubby decided that he really wasn’t interested in going so, we decided to spend the day shopping for souvenirs before heading to our next location in Italy…Pisa.
Tip: This is a very popular class and has really great reviews. Click here to make a reservation. The cost is 60 euros per person. They offer boat tours as well…click here to book.
Of course, we started our morning with coffee on our balcony.
Then headed downstairs for a delicious breakfast.
Once again, we loaded up on mouth watering pastries, a variety of cheeses, fruits and meats.
After breakfast, we headed outside to wander the streets of Monterosso.
We passed the Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista church.
This Catholic church was built in the 13th to 14th century and restored in 1963 to 1964.
It features a Gothic facade with white & black marble stripes & a rose window.
Next, we came up on another church called Oratorio Mortis et Orationis – Confraternita dei Neri….aka the Oratory of the Dead.
The church was built in the 17th century in Baroque style. It’s characterized by the two-tone facade plastered with black and white stripes.
The church is actually known as the chapel of the Brotherhood of Death and Prayer, the Confraternita dei Neri, “Fraternity of Blacks.”
This charitable group raised funds to support the widows and orphans of men lost at sea and the “black” was in reference to the clothing worn for their religious processions.
Shots of the inside
I have to admit, it was the strangest “church” that I had ever seen.
There were skeletons and crossbones carved into the marble all throughout the church.
After leaving the church, we stopped at a small souvenir shop where my hubby purchased himself an apron for when he’s cooking his Italian meals (aka spaghetti) at home.
Every Thursday there is a huge outdoor market set up in the town…you can purchase all kinds of goods from food to clothing.
We loved all the colorful buildings and architecture in the villages of Cinque Terre
After walking around the “old town” of Monterosso, we walked through the tunnel to the “new town’.
These “two” towns are connected by a tunnel used by pedestrians and the few cars that enter and exit the town.
The old town of Monterosso is dominated by the ruins of the castle and characterized by typical narrow medieval streets and alleys with multi-colored terraced houses.
The oldest parts of Monterosso likely date to the 11th century. The ruins of a medieval fortress, including three former watchtowers built to spot invading pirates, still stand in the old town.
The new part of town, Fegina, is full of life, it is the reflection of an area that tourism has made rich, as the great quantity and excellent quality of hotels and restaurants give evidence.
Fegina dates from the late 19th and into the 20th century when the train line arrived in the Cinque Terre and brought these sleepy villages into the modern world.
I personally prefer the old town over the new.
One of the first things you will see when exiting the tunnel is, Fegina Beach.
Monterosso’s long stretch of beach is also the only sandy beach in the Cinque Terre. It’s protected by a natural harbor and an artificial reef, making it safe and calm for swimming and snorkeling.
The beach is absolutely beautiful and the water is so warm!
Tip: Rent your own boat in Cinque Terre here or here.
There is a sidewalk that spans the entire length of the beach.
I loved all the colorful umbrellas!
Tip: You can either choose to pay for an umbrella and a chair or settle in a free area with your own towel.
At the very end of Fegina Beach, you will find a huge statue called Statua del Gigante.
Built in 1910, the 46-foot tall statue of Neptune, looks like it’s been there for centuries. But the figure, now partially ruined after World War II bombardments and storm damage, has only been in place since the 1900s.
Click here to see a picture of what it looked like before it was damaged.
After reaching the end of the beach, we turned around and headed back the way we had come.
We spotted a cute little church on the way back called Chiesa di Sant’Andrea.
The inside was very simple.
On the way back, we walked the hiking trail that is located near the Porto Roca Hotel.
Tip: Click here for everything you need to know about hiking the trails in Cinque Terre
This trail leads to Vernazza and is one of the most difficult trails.
It’s approximately 2 miles and takes around 2 hours.
There are 500 stairs you will climb on this hike.
We decided to just walk a very short distance to take a few pictures and then turn around.
The views from the trail were spectacular!
Nothing better than clear blue skies and sparkling crystal clear blue water!
Of course, we just had to stop along the way, and take hundreds of pictures!
You will cross this bridge along the trail.
I spotted these beautiful yellow flowers blooming along the trail.
Once we arrived to the stairs, we turned around and headed back.
Tip: You will need a paid hiking card to hike this trail
Heading back to the start of the trail
After the trail, we headed back towards old town.
Once we arrived, we spotted Eros Lombardo.
Eros is a florist by day, and a Opera singer at night. His family has been selling flowers at the Cinque Terre markets for years.
After walking around for a few hours, we decided it was time for lunch.
We settled on an outdoor restaurant called, Ristorante Ciak.
The restaurant was founded in 1974.
Read reviews here
Tip: Click here to read about the devastating floods that hit Cinque Terre in 2011 and killed 13 people.
We, once again, started off with caprese.
Then, for our main course, we ordered the seafood ravioli for two.
It was so delicious!
After lunch, we headed back to our hotel to pack up and head to Pisa.
Tip: Since we didn’t plan on checking out of our hotel until later in the day, I paid for an extra day so we could check out when we wanted.
Tip: When you exit the parking garage that we stayed at, you will take the green coin that you were given when you entered the garage, and insert it into the machine inside the garage where you pay and it will then tell you how much you owe for parking…my advice, have cash as the machine would not take our credit card. We stayed in the Loreto parking garage and the cost was 60 euros for 3 days.
After checking out of our hotel, we headed to Pisa which was approx. 1.5 hrs from Monterosso.
After driving approx. 20 mins, you will come to Levanto.
A lot of people will make this their base when visiting Cinque Terre.
Approximately 20 mins past Levanto, you will have to pull a ticket (called biglietto) to enter the autostrada (interstate).
Tip: Click here and here for everything you need to know about driving the autostrada
After about an hour of driving, we stopped for gas.
We had the attendant pump our gas because we found it to be too confusing!
Once we arrived to Pisa, we headed straight to our hotel.
I had booked reservations at the Villa Magnolia Park due to the fact that it offered secure parking and it was less than a 5 min walk to the Leaning Tower.
After we checked in, we headed upstairs to our room.
The room was very big and had so much character!
The bathroom was very modern looking.
Of course, we had to have a balcony!
Once we got checked in, we headed straight to the Leaning Tower.
There are lots of vendors set up in this area selling all kinds of souvenirs.
I had pre booked skip a line reservations for the tower for 7:30 pm on an app called .GetYourGuide.
Since we arrived about 1.5 hrs early, we headed to the cathedral since my ticket also allowed for entrance there as well.
Tip: Our ticket didn’t include the Pisa Baptistery..so, you will need to buy separate tickets for that.
A shot of the cathedral
Like the bell tower and baptistery, the church leans slightly.
The doors of the cathedral
The bronze doors were made by Florentine artists in the 17th century, after the original wooden doors were destroyed in a fire in 1595 that severely damaged the Cathedral.
The cathedral was built before the Leaning Tower…it opened in 1063 and was enlarged in 1118.
It was the biggest Cathedral in Europe for almost a century.
Inside you’ll find striped columns and a great deal of gold decoration.
In fact, there are 68 monolithic columns that were brought here from Sardinia. The number represented how many churches were in Pisa at the time of the Cathedral’s construction.
Notice the Medieval marble floor that was saved from the fire.
Like most all the other churches we visited in Italy, this one was very ornate.
There were all kinds of paintings on the ceiling of the church.
The marble pulpit is one of the highlights of the cathedral.
The mummified body of San Ranieri is kept in the chapel. He was a Pisan merchant.
This was one of the most ornate churches I had ever visited!
After leaving the church, we went and got in line for the Leaning Tower only to find out that you weren’t allowed to take any bags at all inside.
So, we had to walk to a nearby building where we had to leave our bags in a secure locker free of charge.
Nearby the lockers is the statue of the fallen angel called Angelo Caduto.
Tip: There are restrooms here but they cost 1 euro to use.
The sun was beginning to set and lighting up the tower.
Of course, we had to take our picture in front of the tower!
Finally, after waiting for our entry time, we headed into the tower.
The construction of the Leaning Tower began in August 1173 and took 344 years to build. It was interrupted over the years due to wars, debt and structural flaws ( the lean). The Tower was finally completed in mid 1300s and open to public.
Looking up into the tower
The tower is 187 ft high and to reach the top, you will have to climb 294 steps; each slanting different ways!
All I can say is, where good shoes! The steps are super slick and there are no handrails!
The views from the top are definitely worth it!!
I must say, I chose a great time to go up the tower…not only was the sun setting but there was hardly anyone else in the tower!
Tip: The tower sells its last ticket 30 mins prior to closing and only 45 people are allowed to go in at a time. You are only allowed 30 mins in the tower.
The bells at the top
The bell-chamber was added in 1372. There are seven bells, one for each note of the musical major scale. The largest weighing 8k pounds!
Tip: Click here for 10 fascinating facts about the tower
Finally made it to the top!
You can look down through this plexiglass and see the bottom!
We noticed that Jesus was missing an arm on this bell.
Before heading back downstairs, we had a nice gentleman offer to take our picture.
After spending about 30 mins in the tower, we headed back down.
The walk down was super slick and I slipped a could of times because I didn’t have the proper shoes on!
After making it back downstairs, we took a few more pictures.
We spotted this fish carved inside the stone.
After exiting the tower, we took a few more pictures before going to find something to eat.
We noticed several people standing near these two trees taking pictures….now I know why!
It showed you just how much the tower is leaning.
After taking way too many pictures, we headed to a nearby cafe to have dinner.
The restaurant was called Antonietto Pizza.
It was an outdoor restaurant with views of the Leaning Tower.
We both ordered pizza and it was delicious!
After we ate, we walked around for a few minutes before heading back to our hotel.
Of course, my hubby had to get that iconic shot of him “holding up” the tower!
The tower, baptistery and cathedral was beautiful all light up at night!
After taking a few more pictures, we headed back to our room and called it a night!
Tip: Please be mindful of your surroundings here and NEVER leave your luggage in your parked car….there have been a lot of people breaking into cars in this area. The thieves will watch tourists leave their cars and then break into them…Pick pocketing is also very common in Italy. Read here about a couple who was robbed in Italy.
Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for Day 9…..our last day in Italy!