After our one night stopover in Lucerne, we headed out for a full travel day, which included 5 hours in the minibus and an hour train ride to our final destination, Vernazza, Italy. I have to say that renting a car and doing a little driving was such a fun adventure. You get to see things that you would never see otherwise. One of the highlights of the trip for me was driving through the Swiss Alps, and specifically through the St. Gotthard Pass. We hit just shy of 7,000 feet and the views were absolutely unforgettable.
As we were ascending the mountain on the Pass, we decided we had to get out and take a few photos and touch the snow of the Swiss Alps. It was crazy to be in 80-degree weather and touching the snow on the side of the mountain. No, that is not a tank top, I have obnoxious tan lines in these photos! :)
About halfway along the St. Gotthard Pass, there is a little bar/food stand on the side of a cliff. Who knew you could buy brats with a mini Swiss flag on the side of the mountain?!
The rest of the road trip took us through parts of Italy, and around Milan. We saw little towns nestled into mountains, very old farmhouses, huge Carrera marble factories and storage (which was very cool for me to see), and we stopped off for some espresso at a rest stop. Only in Italy do they have $20,000 espresso machines at the rest stops!
It was finally time to reach Pisa, Italy, see the Leaning Tower, and drop the car off at the Pisa airport. It had been a long day of travel, but there was no way we were going to be in Pisa and not see the Leaning Tower. We pulled up, parked the minibus near a bunch of other minibusses (probably all a part of tours), ran to the tower, snapped some photos, ran back to the minibus, and drove off. I think it was world record time that any four people have ever seen the Leaning Tower! I have to say it wasn’t leaning as much as I thought it would. It was still very cool to see, and such a bonus on our road trip adventure. It was pretty clear that there was not much else to do in Pisa, so if you ever plan a trip to see the Leaning Tower, stay somewhere else and take a train in to see it!
We finally said good-bye to the minibus and hopped on a train to Monterosso, Italy (the main train hub in Cinque Terre). We took another short train ride from Monterossa to Vernazza, got settled in our rooms, grabbed a pizza and some drinks, and had dinner on some rocks in a cove off the Mediterranean.
I’d say it was the perfect ending to a wonderful day of adventure. It was a day I will never forget. Follow the rest of the story from our time in Cinque Terre here!
Follow Andrea Larson at @lifelovelarson