Roland and Stephanie's Semimoon
The Short Report
These three pages exist as an alternative to the main trip report. Instead of forty-four pages and 1200+ pictures, this short report whittles it down to three pages and seventy-six images. A lot more digestible if you're not willing to waste hours upon hours of your life.
If you've come here and are in fact looking to read the main trip report, then this isn't it! Please go here
The Special Day
This trip started out as a European honeymoon vacation for our good friends Stephanie and Roland, who got married this year (in 2015). Due to some last minute scheduling changes, their wedding got moved, but this trip did not. While they still had an official honeymoon immediately after their wedding, they still wanted to go through with this trip - a sort of half-honyemoon after the fact. A semi-moon.
Rental Car Pickup
The trip was divided into three major sub-parts: Exploring cities and towns in Northern Italy; A stretch of climbing in the Dolomite Mountains; and city and family visiting in Austria and Germany (for the last part, we were only on board for a few days before we'd be heading back to Canada - Roland and Stephanie would stay longer).
The first phase of our trip involved visiting a famous section of Ligurian coastline (in northwestern Italy) known as the Cinque Terre, or the Five Lands. Now a national park, the Cinque centers around five historic cliff-clinging towns that dot a rugged section of coastline. Ancient paths link the towns, and a very popular activity is to walk between them over the course of a few days. We planned to do just that.
Above Mediterranean Rooftops
Basing ourselves in a very reasonably-priced AirBNB apartment rental in Corniglia - the central town along the Cinque Terre coastline, we enjoyed a beautiful couple of sunny days hiking between the towns. The weather was beautiful, the water turquoise-blue, and the vineyards plentiful and full of ripe grapes.
Through terraced Vineyards
We discovered several things during our time in the Cinque Terre: first, the main streets of the larger towns can be quite busy, quite overrun with tourists, but it is easy to get beautiful solitude and a bit more authenticity with a bit of off-the-main-street wandering. Second, the town of Corniglia is the smallest but also the quietest, and is a fine place to stay if you want a more relaxed pace. Third, the 'low path' routes along the coast can be overrun with walkers, some clearly not the least bit prepared for hiking. The high routes up in the hills are more scenic and more lonely (the good kind of lonely). Fourth - the mostly-underground inter-town railway is indispensably convenient. It is a cheap and effective way to shuttle between the towns as needed, and the fact that it is mostly underground means it doesn't impinge too much upon the scenery.
Finishing our five-town hike
Quick relocation by train
Finished with the Cinque Terre, we began a drive across the "leg" of Italy towards Venice. Along the way, we detoured over to the Republic of San Marino - a fully enclosed city-state with Italy. Our visit here was primarily driven by Roland, who had it on his bucket list of world countries to visit.
In Transit to San Marino
Our actual boots-on-the-ground visit to San Marino lasted almost exactly one hour. In that short period of time, we toured the old city center, then walked along the three-pointed summit ridge of Monte Titano - the highest land in San Marino. Each of the points has a castle-like structure built on it. Roland ensured that we made our way to the highest of the three, so that he could official get a picture at the country highpoint.
Roland achieves highpoint
With our short detour to San Marino over, we continued on, now heading north towards our next stop - the canal criss-crossed historic city of Venice. All of us save Stephanie had visited Venice several times before, but its power to attract had not diminished. For our stay this time, we rented a small AirBNB apartment located on the top floor of an old Venetian house in the Dorsoduro neighborhood. Much like our place in Corniglia, it was quiet, unpretentious, and off the beaten path. Just as we like it.
We stayed in Venice for two nights, and during our time there we filled our days with what could be be described as relaxed exploration. Much of it was unstructured meandering, although we did visit a few specific things: a tour of the old clocktower in the Piazza San Marco, the Doge's Palace (Jenn and I), the glassworking island of Murano (Stephanie and Roland), and the Correr Museum.
Venetian Public Transport