part one of three

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Istanbul

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Our Italy travels started in Venice and ended in Naples with a progression of the following cities: Venice, Milan, Cinque Terre, Lake Como {Bellagio}, Florence, Rome, and Naples. Logistically, it made sense to start from the north and work our way south, but allow me to start our Italian adventures out of order with 2 of my favorite cities.

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Let me also preface this post by thanking some very important people:

1. My butt-buddy, Kinjal- for being my spectacular friend and travel partner. We spent countless hours making this trip seamless and I really could not imagine doing this adventure with anyone else!
2. My dad- for letting us use his hard earned reward points on some of our hotels. My dad is wonderful!
3. My husband, Phil- for joyfully letting me satisfy some serious restlessness and for always supporting my need to ‘go on an adventure’.
4. Friends & friends of friends- who wrote us novels via email giving us their suggestion and sharing their experiences. We found everything you wrote helpful and referenced your advice often throughout the trip.

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Cinque Terre is a beauty to behold. A force to be reckoned with. A coast that can launch 1,000 ships! The 5 towns, Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, are linked together by the Ligurian Sea (an arm of the Mediterranean Sea). We arrived just a couple of minutes before midnight at the Margherita Hotel in Monterosso. Since we had less than 19 hours here, we woke up an hour before sunrise to find elevation. The hiking was difficult but rewarding. We passed by vineyards, rows of lemon trees, bubbling brooks, unending stone steps and a lot of other unspeakable, beautiful visions. We almost made it to Vernazza before we realized that 19 hours would not be enough time to hike and explore all 5 town; so we opted for the train instead.

We adopted the laid back, local attitude of these 5 towns and ate lot of pasta, drank lots of local wine, lounged on their beaches, inhaled countless gelato cones, and, my absolute favorite, people watched. It was hard to leave this town and every daydream I have now brings me back to their coasts.

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Florence is another favorite because it was small enough to walk through but large enough to keep you captivated. Maybe it was our short stay that made this city so much sweeter? Nevertheless, this place completely redefined ‘romance’.

We opted for a homestay right by the Arno river. While the address indicated that we were on the 3rd floor, we had to scale 8 flights of narrow stairs. I’m still amazed we didn’t fall backwards and to our doom! Our hostess was kind and left us with city recommendations and cake. Kinjal and I then walked into the sunset, hand-in-hand (really- we did).

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