Italian Coffee Debacles and Great Escapes

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Europe » Italy
July 23rd 2008
Published: August 19th 2008
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Our Italian coffee experiences in Florence fell into two categories: either the coffee was fantastic (ensuring several cups were demolished in one sitting), or so appallingly bad that it wasn’t even drinkable. Average coffee wasn’t present. Here’s a lesson for you ... a tourist trap that we unwittingly fell into ... A nice little cafe situated on the edge of the square. We take a seat, and flick through the menu. There’s no coffee listed on the menu, but then the waiter appears and offers a cafe latte/cappuccino/espresso ... ASK THE PRICE FIRST!!

We failed to ask this vital information, and later discovered that our coffees were €4 euro each, and unfortunately they were of the abysmal variety (black drain water)! The Mafioso-mama cafe owner refused to make us a new ones that we could actually drink, and still demanded that we pay up €8 euros for “the view”! After much heated debate (with the help of some poor French customers who served as translators between the loud Italian/English exchange) we left her €5 (for the view - which wasn’t so great anyway), and we were left reeling from our bad coffee experience. You just sort of expect good coffee in Italy!

We’ve both previously been to Rome so decided to head straight to Florence when our ferry came in from Croatia. We spent a few days in Florence getting a cultural overload from all the museums, churches and galleries, and have now seen enough Renaissance art to last us a lifetime. Michelangelo’s David was amazing though, and since we’d arrived around 5pm we only had to queue for five minutes and pretty much had the gallery to ourselves. This represented a rare accomplishment, as during summertime Europe queues of 2+ hours to all the major sights are common!

On our way to Cinque Terre our train stopped in at Pisa for about 3 hours which gave us ample time to walk up to the leaning tower, eat our lunch under a tree and be entertained by the hordes of people trying to perfect their leaning-on-the-tower/holding-the-tower-up photo pose.

We hadn’t planned on heading to Cinque Terre, but after meeting one too many travellers who’d come from the region we decided to revise our travel plans and check it out. Cinque Terre means “five lands” in Italian and has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. It's
Ponte Vecchio, FlorencePonte Vecchio, FlorencePonte Vecchio, Florence

This bridge is lined with jewelery shops
basically five beautiful and colourful fishing villages perched atop cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean sea, connected by a walking track (and scenic train line). The walk between the villages takes about 5 hours and is quite steep in parts, but well worth it for the views. We stayed at the smallest and first village, Riomaggiore and walked as far as the fourth village Vernazza before the heat and endless steps got the better of us and we traded our trainers for the train!

Onwards to Venice (and hopefully a better coffee situation) ...

Our Route
CROATIA: Zadar > ITALY: Ancona (by overnight ferry) > Florence (by train) > Pisa (by train) > Riomaggiore (by train) > Monterosso (by foot) > Riomaggiore (by train)

Additional photos below
Photos: 34, Displayed: 24


On the Coastal Trail, Cinque TerreOn the Coastal Trail, Cinque Terre
On the Coastal Trail, Cinque Terre

This is a flat section of the trail!
Riomaggiore TownRiomaggiore Town
Riomaggiore Town

We stayed right at the top of the hill miles in the background!

19th August 2008

What is all that brightness?
Why is there so much colour? Could that be??? It's the sun? No... really? Ooowwwww my eyes!!!! Photos are amazing lovely one!!!
19th August 2008

Watch out for the Gelatti!
What you experienced with coffee we did with Gelatti cones! They have different sized cones and unless you specify they give you the biggest (ridiculously big!) and the most expensive! Here's hoping Venice is not too busy for you! The most amazing place but can often be overrun with tourists especially in August! I was lucky and saw it once in the winter in the snow! I have been 3 times to Venice it is that special! If you can make it to Verona I recommend that as well - Romeo and Juliette... Hope you are having a fantastic time. K x
19th August 2008

Oh by the way my Mum advocates that when in Italy and Gelatto a day is compulsory!
19th August 2008

Sun ...
Yes that's what the world looks like when there is sun shining! Surely Dublin has not completely erased your memory! x
19th August 2008

Have to echo what the wifey said, I've never felt so rediculous as walking along the streets of Florence with an ice cream cone the size of a rugby ball! Oh and Dave, let's take comfort. We may never have the torso of David but I reckon we're both packing more where it counts!!!! (Suz, fear not, I'm speculating rather than basing that on fact!) Keep up the adventures, very jealous ...
20th August 2008

WOW guys, after all these amazing pics and the free flowing poetry, we'll have to sit around a glass of wine t get over it ala Dave"... Have a wonderful time. Hope to see you soon. Nazim
26th August 2008

Heya babe, Your photos r amazing!!! I sooooo wanna go there, its beautiful! even the cat looks great & i hate!! Glad ur having great time...loving the updates :) Have a gelato on me ...mmmm...italian ice-cream is just yummmy!! xo
11th September 2008

Nice work with the camera! The kinds of pictures that make me *sigh over my job and want to visit the place, as if everyone doesnt want to visit Cinque Terre anyways right?! Stunning photos, good work!!

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