Exploring Northern Italy in 10 days (we manage to throw in 24 hours in France too!) Part 2/2

First half of our trip: https://blessedlittletravelers.blogspot.com/2018/09/exploring-northern-italy-in-10-days-we.html


I have a soft spot for greeneries and countryside!
Waking up without alarm clock is a bliss and something we do during holidays. Instead of ticking boxes on the various sights we visited, we would rather do it at a leisurely pace even if this means missing out on a few places. Quality is what we treasure more than quantity :)
A simple brekkie
We had a swim before heading out to Leaning Tower of Pisa. We parked at a carpark nearby and walk to the area which houses The Leaning Tower and a church. Surrounding the Leaning Tower, there are many stalls selling souvenirs at a reasonable price, restaurants and even McD.

It was nice walking around the place, looking at the various poses every tourist tried to come up with. Some are quite amusing but I must say they are really creative.
A touristy shot
Loving the church architecture as well
The tower doesn't look leaning in this shot
The weather is really hot so we went to a mall nearby to shop. We then went home, had some fruits for light dinner as we ate McD earlier around 4 plus.


Farewell Fattoria Fibbiano....
Today we will be leaving Tuscany, heading Northwest to Cinque Terre which is also known as The Five Fishing Village, made the UNESCO Mankind's World Heritage in 1997. Now it is a National Park and Protected Marine Area. I must say the water here is really crystal clear and I understand why so many tourists made their way here to enjoy their summer.

Loving the crystal clear water- taken along the walkway between Manarola and Cornelia
As we only booked last minute, plus it is holiday week for people in Italy, Cinque Terre is extremely packed so there are not much choices for us. We manage to book for an apartment by Hotel Dora in the town of Levanto. It comes with washer so we are quite happy!

Parking is covered by the hotel but finding a spot is very hard. The same goes to all the town in CinqueTerre which explains why most tourist either stay in nearby town or take the train.

We are quite lucky that our apartment is a mere 5 mins walk to the train station and from there we can easily visit the five villages. The day pass only valid till 12am on that particular day so this need to be taken into consideration when planning your day.

Beach at Levanto
The town of Levanto is charming as well with its own beach (I must say it is not as crystal clear as the five villages) streets with shops selling souvenirs, restaurant and packed with tourist as well.

After many meals of pasta and pizza, we decided to have sushi for a change.


We had breakfast in our room and headed to the train station. Purchasing a Cinqueterre card ( 42 for 2 adults and 2 kids http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/cinque-terre-card) allows us to take unlimited train, bus and enter the National Park trails along the coastline. Do remember to validate the card before boarding the train. You only need to validate once and it is good to be used for the whole day.

NOTE: Walking trails that are not along the coastline are free!

We spend the rest of the day exploring the villages.

A cliff at Riomaggiore
My favourite has to be Riomaggiore, probably because the cliff is so near the train station and I could literally see the ocean from the train station whereas for the other villages, you would have to walk a bit before coming up to the ocean view. Riomaggiore is also famous for Via dell'Amore (The Lover's Lane) which is a trail connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola. It is also the shortest trail connecting two villages at 1km. Unfortunately, it is currently closed for construction and might only be re-opened in 2021.

Via dell'Amore- check out the lover's lock along the rails...
We are all set to hike but alas, it is closed and the other trails are too lengthy to hike at this hot weather
We had a drink at the cafe overlooking the cliffs at Riomaggiore and I love it. The view is great and the lady owner at the cafe is really friendly.

Manarola town is very scenic and this is where you could take the famous Instagram photo of Cinqueterre. Walk through the town towards the ocean and take the right pathway that leads to Corniglia. You should be able to see the whole Manarola town from there and the photo is great.

Manarola, one of the five villages of CinqueTerre
Walking further down the trail will bring you to a place where many people are swimming and I particularly love this area. Secluded, clear water and tranquil.

Beach at Monterosso- check out the crystal clear water
The biggest town is Monterosso and there is a long stretch of beach and lots and lots of restaurants. There are also more hotels around this area if looking for accommodation within the five villages.

Enjoying the sea in Levanto
We were back to Levanto in the evening and kids went to beach to play for a bit before heading for dinner at the same sushi place again. Tonight we had their buffet, very worth it I must say. Yummy!


It was a last minute decision to head to Nice, France. We have yet booked any hotel because it is our first time crossing border from Italy to France. We did some research online that there is no checkpoint but to be safe, we decided to only book the hotel after we cross the border into France.

Nice is 3 hours drive away from Levanto and indeed, crossing the border is easy. No documents required, we just drive pass the sign Goodbye Italy and then Welcome to France, just as easy as that.

Our lunch at Menton, France
We had lunch in a small town of Menton. Burger, snacks and lemon tiramisu. At the same time, booking our hotel online.

We arrived at Novotel Nice (https://www.novotelnice.com/en/) and checked into a quadruple room with one double bed and one double sofa bed. Parking is available at the hotel for 20 for 24 hours.

Travelling to Nice town centre can be done via tram or walking. We bought 10 one way ticket for 15.
Notre Dame in Nice, a smaller version compared to the one in Paris.
The town centre is not huge, they are full of shops, restaurant and the famous Nice beach with many tourists basking in the sun.

Beach at Nice
For dinner, we booked Le Frog (http://www.restaurantgroupesnice.fr) and had a yummiest dinner. Kids had their first try on escargot and they did not like it. It is an experience! Now everytime I mention escargot, they will shake their head and ran away.

First escargot experience
One could tell from his expression how much he LIKE the escargot!
We love the food here. We had escargot, steak with fois gras and tiramisu complete with a bottle of wine and ended with an espresso.

TIPS: Do book earlier especially if you would like a table outside as it is quite a small restaurant.

DAY 10

We had light breakfast in room before checking out. Leaving our luggages at the hotel, we venture into the town centre once again looking for lunch before heading back to Italy. There are many lunch deals and we went for it but alas, was not a good one.

We bought some pastries from Paul and kids found a huge macaroon from one of the pastry shops. They enjoyed it very much!

Favourite macaroon in gigantic size!
Today is our last night in Italy before heading back to Dubai. We booked a hotel near the airport so that we do not need to rush the next morning.

Sand playing at Lake Maggiore
We headed to Lake Maggiore to play with sand and had dinner before checking in the hotel as there are not much choices for food near our hotel.


We checked out and return our car back to Hertz counter at Terminal One. For tax refund, do head to airport earlier as the queue is really long. You could do tax refund before checking in your luggages if your item is to be checked in. If you are hand carrying your item, do tax refund after custom clearance. Any items bought in other EU country needs an additional stamp at custom counter before heading to tax refund counter. There is a 4 service charged by the tax refund counter.

We could not leave without tasting another scoop of Venchi's ice cream
NOTE: If you would like shop at Milan airport (you should!) ,there are a great selection of shops but do note that the shops are all after the check in gates BUT BEFORE the immigration. Once you pass the immigration, there are not much choices to shop already. Enjoy shopping but allocate some time to pass the immigration and to walk to your gates for boarding.


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