By Jenna Severson
CORNIGLIA, Italy-This past Friday, our study abroad group had the first full free day off of the trip, so we decided to cross an excursion off of the long list of things we wanted to do in Italy – Cinque Terre. A few days prior to this trip we decided it would be fun (and cheaper) to plan a picnic with fresh bread and meat from the Mercato San Lorenzo after the hike as a little reward. When Friday morning finally rolled around we collectively dragged ourselves out of bed and were on the train leaving Florence by 6 a.m.
In total the trip from Florence to Manarola, one of the Cinque Terre coastal towns, was around three and a half hours. As excited as everyone was to be on our first train in Italy, sleep eventually won out and by the last hour of the train ride almost everyone was snoozing on their backpacks.
That rest came in handy.
Our hike from Manarola to Corniglia was excruciating and several times we thought about just passing out in the middle of the trail and calling it quits. Through the tiredness and extreme leg workout, we pushed through and ended in the quaint, pastel-colored town of Corniglia just in time for an afternoon picnic.
We stopped in a hole in the wall market and chose Italian beer, mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and pesto so green you could tell the basil was fresh. These ingredients were all we needed to have an intimate picnic between the seven of us. We spread our food across a small patio overlooking the sea and dug in.
Breads were dipped into the pesto, custom made sandwiches were created and each ingredient was enjoyed as if it was the finest meal we’ve ever eaten. During our lunch we shared stories about ourselves and our hopes for the future and hesitantly joked about how sore we were going to be the next day. I basked in the sun and inhaled the slightly salty essence of the Mediterranean Sea as I relished the focaccia bread with pesto, tomato, prosciutto and mozzarella.
I’m not sure if it was the death-defying two-and-a-half-hour hike that held breathtaking views or the deliciously cozy moment shared between new friends, but that day trip was pure magic, something that comes a few times in life and is too unique to ever be replicated. The strength and energy needed for the hike heightened my senses in a way that made the tomatoes taste just a little bit juicier and the company a little more valuable.