Go Inspired in Cinque Terre

Exploring Cinque Terre with Go Inspired

A trip to Cinque Terre

The Commedia dell’Arte and Italian Interior Design groups got together this year and went on a one-day trip to Cinque Terre. It was an amazing day. The weather was absolutely perfect and the company was even better.

If you haven’t ever been to Cinque Terre, it should definitely be on your list to visit while in Italy. Cinque Terre is located in the rugged area of the Liguria region. In Italian, “Cinque” means five and “terre” means land or town so the name of the area translates to 5 towns. Cinque Terre was an area quite unknown to the rest of the world-that is, until an American backpacker discovered the hidden towns and wrote about them in his travel book back in 1978. Since then, Cinque Terre has seen a tremendous growth in tourism.

Before the first train was built in 1870, only boats and walking paths were used. Now, tourists can travel easily by train or boat though sometimes the trains are not as reliable as you would like (for example, our train was cancelled 15 minutes before it was supposed to take us back to La Spezia and we had to wait another 30 minutes). But despite all this, it is worth visiting.

The 5 towns are set in the mountains, all connected by train. To get there, you take a train to La Spezia. Try to get on the train early as it fills up fast although it is not a long train ride. Then you get off where you want to. Each town has something unique to offer.

Cinque Terre Trip

Here is some information provided to us by the tour guides regarding the towns:


  • Riomaggiore-It is known for its historic character and its wine which is produced locally. The La via dell’Amore (Lover’s Way) connects Riomaggiore with the next town (Manarola) though unfortunately it has been closed for a bit because of the mudslides caused by the weather.
  • Manarola-The church of San Lorenzo is the most famous landmark in this town which was built in 1338.
  • Corniglia-This is the only town in Cinque Terre that is not in contact with the sea. It is set in the rocky cliffs which means it takes almost 400 stairs to get there! Make sure you try some local pesto there!
  • Vernazza-Many people think this is the most beautiful of the towns. It has quaint shops and the historical monument Santa Margherita di Antiochia, which is a Roman-Genovese style church.
  • Monterosso al Mare-This is the largest of the towns and it is the first one to be documented. Here there is a beach (rocky) and many shops and restaurants.


The Hike-We started out in Vernazza. Probably not the best idea to start at the hottest hour of the day but we did. The first 20 minutes were a nightmare though you can stop along the path and take some pictures (which allows you to catch your breath a bit).  The views are just breathtaking. The colors are just spectacular with the sun and the blue sea against the green mountains. Enjoy the time as you pass other hikers from different countries. The path can be small at times so you may have to wait to let others pass.

We had a fabulous time and finished that part of the hike in about 1 hour and 45 minutes. We went straight to eat in Monterosso and had some pesto pasta and some cold white wine. Then some of the group went to cool down in the water. The day went flying by and we got some great pictures. Everyone wants to go back there but next time spend at least 2 days there.

Cinque Terre Food

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Celebrating the Patron Saint of Florence

 Feast of San Giovanni in Florence, Italy


Every June 24th in Florence, Florentines celebrate their patron saint, San Giovanni, also known in the English speaking world as St. John the Baptist.

Kick starting the celebration is a parade that is not to be missed. The parade begins in Piazza Signoria and heads to the baptistery which is dedicated to the saint.

If you have ever seen a rugby match, you know it is not for the faint hearted. Well Florentines one up rugby. One of the most interesting parts of the festivities, especially for tourists, is the Calcio Storico. This is a crazy mix of football, rugby and wrestling among the four neighborhoods in Florence: San Giovanni, Santa Maria Novella, Santo Spirito, and Santa Croce. The men dress in the Renaissance colors that represent their respective neighborhoods.


This historical Florentine football match dates back to the 16th Century. Spectators go back to the sport’s ancient origins where head-butting, punching, elbowing, and choking are allowed. The game is bloody and violent but Florentines demonstrate their pride in the sport. If the player gets hurt, tough luck as no substitutes are allowed. The rules from 1580 are still followed. The game lasts 50 minutes with 27 players on each team. Players can use any part of their body to move the ball. The atmosphere is explosive, with fights and broken noses, but the match is certainly worth going to see. In the past, the winners received an entire white calf as their prize. Nowadays, it is the famous bistecca Florentine as well as a dose of neighborhood pride. Tickets range from 15 to 40 euros.

The afternoon and evening activities include a regatta and a night run for those looking for some exercise. The festivities finish at Piazza Michelangelo when fireworks light up the Florence sky!

If you do not want to participate in the San Giovanni activities, head up to Fiesole for the Estate Fiesolana which takes place at the historical Roman theatre where you will be dazzled by music, cinema, and dance.

So much to do in and around Florence, so little time!

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One more benefit of traveling abroad…and it isn’t what you think!

Another benefit to traveling abroad!

As if we needed more reasons why we should travel or study abroad-Now we have one more….and it isn’t what you think!


We all know the benefits of traveling-

  • Gain new perspective on the world.
  • Increase language skills.
  • Test your interests.
  • Meet people from different places and make connections.
  • Break out of your shell.
  • Enjoy life like never before.


But now there is one HUGE benefit that we can attribute to living abroad. Creativity! Yes, traveling and living abroad helps the brain with creativity. So let’s get to the bottom of this. An interesting book called IMAGINE by Jonah Lehrer talks about how our brain works in terms of creativity. Here are some highlights:


  • Traveling cultivates an outside perspective. Often, we are physically near the source of our problem. This means that our thoughts are “constricted” because they are “bound by a more limited set of associations” and so this inhibits the imagination. So this is where travel comes in. It helps you escape from the place where you spend most of your time. Those ideas that your mind had previously suppressed now are able to be awakened!


  • And what is more interesting, is that the longer you are away from home, the stronger the effect. One study showed that “students who lived abroad for an extended period were significantly more likely to solve a difficult creativity problem than students who had never lived outside their birth country”.


So really-how does traveling change us? Well first of all, experiencing another culture provides open-mindedness to the traveler and in this way, he/she has an easier time realizing that “a single thing can have multiple meanings”. An example given is the simple act of leaving food on one’s plate. In China, leaving food on a plate is often seen as a compliment, a signal that the host has provided more than enough food. But, in the US, the same act can be seen as an insult. These cultural contrasts mean that seasoned travelers are open to ambiguity, more willing to realize that there are different ways of interpreting the world. Because they have “felt like outsiders before, immersed in foreign places, they’ve learned to examine alternative possibilities”.

In other words, increased creativity, according to the book, appears to be a side effect of experiencing difference. When traveling, you need to change cultures, societal norms, “feel the disorienting diversity of human traditions. The same details that make foreign travel so confusing-Do I tip the waiter? Where is this train taking me?-turn out to have a lasting impact, making us more creative because we’re less insular. We’re reminded of all that we don’t know, which is nearly everything; we’re surprised by the constant stream of surprises”.

So when you are struggling to figure out which side to kiss on, or if you should even kiss, or what the cashier is saying to you, or how the heck to read the train schedule,  know that all of your struggles are helping your brain!

And as the book says, “when you get back home, home is still the same. But something in our minds has been changed, and that changes everything”.

Happy traveling!!