• BLOG
  • ROADTRIP TO ITALY: CINQUE TERRE

    Tiina Kivelä

    One of the best things about living in Switzerland is how close everything is. The other towns, valleys, mountains, glaciers, countries and cultures, like Italy. And in our series of Instagram-friendly trips mixing adventure and chill I’m now going to introduce you to Cinque Terre. It wasn’t the lightest trip, combined with another one, with many hours in cars and trains, topped with Italian food… But oh boy, it was worth the effort. In all, I was travelling for a week in the beginning of June; first on a real road trip to Italy, after which back to Switzerland to catch a flight to Andalusia, Spain. And let’s start with the Italian story, and the others will follow sooner or later.

    For the trip, friends (including the best trip organiser ever, thanks again M) had booked an Airbnb in a surprisingly nice little Ligurian town called Sarzana. And there we spent few days and nights, mostly on the roof terrace with good friends, ex-colleagues, ex-lovers and new lovers. Yes, with these people it’s kind of complicated, but that’s what makes it fun really. When travelling, better not to take oneself, nor others, too seriously. On a second thought, better not to take oneself too seriously ever. I’m afraid I’ve done that too much myself, and it would be a time to loosen up. Not to care that much about everything… But well, that’s another story. Let’s again get back to the Italian one.

    First day night we arrived after midnight to this sleepy town, a bit surprised for the road and tunnel charges on the way (and noting how one day we have to come back and stop on the way in Arosa Valley for biking). The next day, we started with real Italian breakfast (espresso! cappuccino!) before taking a bus and train to the first village of our Cinque Terre tour, Monterosso, from where we continued after a chill beach day to Vernazza by local boat shuttle. And since we are adventurers, not tourists, we had to rent kayaks for an hour before sunset and drink our aperó’s from plastic cups. And yes, there was pizza and seafood included in that day too. It was Italy and the sea, after all.

    The next and for me also the final Italian day, we drove to Portovenere (or Porto Venere – still not sure how it really goes) and tried to rent a boat to go further to the sea. But as the weather in the sea wasn’t permitting, a friend dug out his inflatable rubber boat and after late lunch, and gelatos, we paddled over from Portovenere to the nearby island. I think it’s called Palmaria but again not 100% sure. Nevertheless, there’s a national park and fewer tourists than on the mainland. In a matter of fact, it might so that the whole Cinque Terre is national park (hands up for nature and outdoor recreation!). It was a fun, a bit crazy trip and like always the island seemed to be something I want to go back to, hiking and finding a bit quieter beach for skinny-dipping, maybe…

    And yes, of course, there was a nice Italian sunset by the sea. And more pizza, wine and frutti di mare. And a bit of Lord Byron too (google Portovenere and Lord Byron to find out more) before,  at 5 am the next morning, heading back to Switzerland through Parma, Milan, catching a beautiful view to Lake Como too, to catch a flight to Andalusia. But that’s another story for another occasion. This was Italy in June 2017.

    Good night now.

    Tiina Kivelä

    There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
    There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
    There is society, where none intrudes,
    By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
    I love not man the less, but Nature more

    ― George Gordon Byron


    Cinque Terre ennen huippusesonkia ja viikon pituisen eteläeuroopan kierrokseni ensimmäinen etappi kesäkuun alussa. Aurinkoa, lämpöä, pastaa ja frutti di mare’a eli mereneläviä; yllättävän kirkas ja suolainen merivesi, kanottireissu ja kumivenereissu. Ihastuttava Airbnb kattoterassilla ja mahtava, hieman vinksahtanut seura How I Met Your Mother tyyliin; entisiä ja uusia pariskuntia, vauva-arjesta lomailijoita ja italialaisia tulkkeja ja melkein paikallisoppaita. Oli hauskaa, vaikkakin raskasta, eikä vähiten taas italialaisen ruoan johdosta.

  • BLOG
  • EXPLORING TICINO: MONTE SAN GIORGIO

    Tiina Kivelä

    Ticino’s the sunny side of Switzerland, they said. And after last Sunday I can pass the message on, with empirical proof. Past year, many people and magazine pages have advised, especially during the rainy months of Bernese Oberland, to visit Italy or at least Ticino, as it’s said to be almost always sunny in there. It tempted me, but since it hasn’t rained so much (or even better; it’s been snowing) and there’s been enough of exploring at home in the Jungfrau Region, it took me a while to get myself further. But last Sunday, on my birthday, when it was pouring rain in Interlaken,  as it regularly does during these months, which further on didn’t allow any nice hiking or biking or climbing or skiing at home, my road trip wishes were answered. And so I got a ride and the crew to Ticino, with the mission of hiking to the top of Monte San Giorgio and eating some pizza in Italy.

    Ticino’s only three hours away from Interlaken, so it’s almost perfect for a day trip and just perfect for a weekend getaway (next time hotel and biking too, please). Not to mention that it’s just an hour drive away from Milan if you’re interested in flying nearby. But luckily we didn’t need to fly this time; all we did was took the car and drove away. After the Gotthard tunnel (of course I had google how the story of the fire goes in that loooong tunnel – btw when did they start offering 4G in road tunnels?!) the rain stopped and the sky turned cloudy but dry. Moreover, the roadside signs turned to Italian; it was like going abroad, even though we weren’t even officially on the Italian side yet.

    Tiina Kivelä

     Finally in Ticino, after the drive and 10min hunt for the parking spot, we hit the trail through this forest towards our destination, the top of Monte San Giorgio (which holds an UNESCO status, btw), in where the greatest birthday surprise was waiting for me: it was sunny, and the views were just breathtaking. The “Sunday walk” kind of hike didn’t really do the job, but the snow-topped Swiss alps in the north, Italy in the south, the lakes, and the green hills of Ticino took my breath away, big time. And when the day ended just a short drive further to the Italian side, with pizza and wine, panna cotta and espresso, I hugged my crew and said that this was definitely one of the best, if not even the best, birthday I’ve ever had. My favourite people, food, drinks and mountains. La grande bellezza. Only thing missing was the sea and gelato, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time when I get the crew to Finale Ligure or Ascona, for even more Italian outdoors fun. Or I might just return to Ticino with more time and my bike, as it was already more than fine in here.



    FI: Voihan Pyhä Yrjö (San Giorgio), mikä paikka.  Tämä Ticino siis, jonne suuntasimme sunnuntaina juhlistamaan syntymäpäivääni. Interlaken tervehti kyseisenä aamuna sateella, kuten tähän aikaan täällä asiaan kuuluu, ja ainoa kuivalta vaikuttanut kolkka oli säätiedotuksen mukaan  Luganon seutu. Syntymäpäivän, ja huonon kotiseudun sään (ei kiipeilyä, ei pyöräilyä, ei vaellusta tai hiihtoa) varjolla sain siis helposti hankittua matkaan autokyydin ja mukavan seuran, sekä idean valloitettavasta huipusta. Ja niin suuntasimme aamulla auton keulan kohti Ticinoa, läpi Gotthardin (surullisen)kuuluisan tunnelin ja sumuisten maisemien.

    Vielä Meridessä autolle parkkipaikan löydettyämme ja kohti Monte San Giorgion huippua suuntaavalle polulle astuttuamme taivasta peitti ohut pilviverho, joka ei kuitenkaan haitannut nauttimasta kävelystä läpi vihreän metsän ja ohi viiniköynnösten, heinäsirkkojen sirityksen säestyksellä. Lopulta UNESCO -stauksestakin nauttivan vuoren huipulle päästyämme sain vieläpä ihan parhaan syntymäpäiväyllätyksen taivaan auettua ja aurinkon lämmitäessä lepohetkeen asettuvia matkalaisia. Pakko kai nyt on uskoa kaikkia niitä vakuutuksia, että Ticinossa paistaa aina.

    Leppoisan sunnuntaikävelyn jälkeen nälkäisinä ja janoisina päätimme vielä ajaa muutaman ylimääräisen kilometrin Italian puolelle, jossa muutaman neuvonpidon (kiitos italainen seuralainen tulkkauksesta) jälkeen löysimme tiemme erinomaisen antipastin, pizzan, viinin, panna cottan ja espressokupillisten äärelle. Siinä kohtaa myönnän hyvin epäsuomalaiseen tapaan halanneeni seuralaisiani tiukasti, ja todenneeni kyseessä olleen yksi parhaista, ellei paras syntymäpäivä.

    Ticino on Interlakenista vain kolmen tunnin ajomatkan päässä (ja Milanosta vain vajaan tunnin) ja vaikka se näin soveltuukin hyvin päiväretkeilyyn, voisin suositella  sitä jopa vielä enemmän yhden tai kahden yön reissua alueelle. Itse ajattelin seuravalla kerralla varata mukaan myös pyörä, ja aikaa uimiseen ja gelatolle.


    Pizza: La Ghironda, Viggiù