One thing I have done while overseas that I never thought I’d do

Ciao tutti!

I’m Lauren, an ACU student who is lucky enough to be able to study abroad for the Core Florence program in Florence, Italy at the moment. I had envisioned myself doing many things in Italy, but never a day of hiking throughout the coastal towns of Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre is a group of five coastal towns on the Italian Rivera in the Liguria region of Italy. Although very similar, the towns each have distinct features and significant beauty that demands a visit to all five towns. The rugged and mountainous landscapes have enabled great hiking trails throughout the towns that combine stunning views with a challenging exercise. The stunning panoramic views at high points of the trail were definitely worth the massive hike from one town to the next.  I would have never thought that I would accept a hiking challenge while studying overseas as I have never hiked before and had never seen the appeal. However I am so glad that myself, along with a group of students also studying abroad in Florence spent the day in Cinque Terre.

The towns in Cinque Terre featured bright and bold tower houses, lovely little restaurants, cafes, shops and gorgeous picturesque beaches. Each little town encompassed a traditional Italian culture that has embraced coastal living and created something wonderful for visitors to experience. The towns all have amazing seafood that is sourced locally and served in local restaurants with recipes that have been loved for generations. And of course, there was still plenty of pizza, pasta and gelato available as well!

Our day in Cinque Terre began with a minor hike through one of the coastal towns with views that were just an appetiser of what was to come later in the day. After this, we climbed over 400 steps to reach a high point of the town for a delicious Italian lunch which gave us a taste of local seafood and pesto pasta that comprised of local ingredients such as pine nuts and extra virgin olive oil. Feeling full and adventurous, we were keen and ready to tackle the major hike of the day – which was a hike from one town to the next and usually takes 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was a challenging walk; it weaved in and out of forests of olive trees, involved the climbing of many stairs and steps, and it was incredibly hot and humid. With many pit stops along the way for an opportunity to take a selfie with the views, we were able to look back and appreciate how far we’d come and I was definitely proud of how far we had travelled! At the end of the hike it only seemed a fitting reward that we bought gelato and then headed straight to the beach for a relaxing swim in the Mediterranean Sea. The pebble and rock beaches took some getting used to, but the water was unbelievably perfect. The water was shades of beautiful blues and was the perfect temperature to cool down and relax in. We concluded our day with a ferry ride along the coast where we were able to enjoy the view of the towns from the water.

Our day hiking through Cinque Terre enabled us to build friendships, tan lines and red burning for some but was a brilliant experience overall. I never thought I would participate in such a day, but I’m so glad I did, and I encourage all other students studying abroad to take risks and do things you never wanted to or never thought you would do because you may surprise yourself!