Cinque Lessons in Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is Italian for five lands (cinque meaning five and terre meaning lands). On our group’s optional field trip to one of the five lovely villages, Riomaggiore, I learned five lessons about myself, others, and traveling. These five, or cinque, lessons not only apply to traveling but life in general. These are the cinque lessons I learned from only two short days in the water-colored wonderland that is Cinque Terre.

1. Be Like Mary Poppins

After being caught in the rain in both Rome and Cinque Terre I realized just how magical having an umbrella can be. Although I could not fly on my umbrella to Cinque Terre, it still proved to be the most important item in my luggage. Umbrellas are sort of like SPF 100 sunscreen for a pale-Snow-White kind of girl like myself. When I am in the darkness of my apartment with only the glare coming from my laptop screen as I watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix, sunscreen is the furthest thing from my mind. However if I were to be picked up and dropped like a Sims character onto a beach/surface of the sun, I would cry tears of joy knowing that my SPF 100 would shield me for at least 30 minutes from the ultraviolet rays.  So in short, always always always bring an umbrella. I sure was glad I did. Also, thank you Mary Poppins for making something so useful, cool.

2. Singing in the Rain

One might have guessed by now that it down poured in Cinque Terre last weekend. The sky opened up, hiking trails closed, and people got soaked. The question is, does one curl up into the fetal position, cry, and let the rain ruin a beautiful weekend. NO WAY JOSE! Weather is like many things faced while traveling; it is out of my control and unpredictable. I had to go with the flow and enjoy myself no matter the situation. With this attitude every situation can be life-changing, wonderful, and enjoyable. It all depended on my perspective. See the beauty in everything. Italy is breathtakingly beautiful in the rain. It might have been a blessing in disguise because since it rained we were able to take the train to all of the five towns which is something that we would not have been able to do otherwise.

3. I’d Dance in a Storm in my Best Dress, Fearless

Fearless, yes. Stupid, no. With that in mind, one should try new things and live a bit outside of one’s comfort zone so that one can truly experience everything studying abroad has to offer. This trip made me grow as a person by teaching me new things about myself and others day by day. No one should be afraid to try the local pesto pasta or the 300-plus steep stairs in Cornelia, taste the gelato in each of the five towns all in one day, climb the rocks and experience a once-in-a-lifetime view. Trying new, exciting things made my trip memorable and so much richer.

4. Honeybadger Don’t Care and Neither Should I

I know it is embarrassing to be that person, the one at whom the locals roll their eyes. But it is SO worth it. By this, I mean take pictures. Take lots of pictures of everything, everybody, and even food. Don’t be annoying about it. Maybe don’t conduct a photo shoot at every boutique, but definitely take a lot. Pictures are the best, lightest and cheapest souvenirs one can bring back with them. Make sure to also soak in views with the mind and senses too. The moments outside of the camera lens are something that when one closes their eyes, they can think back and relive that moment. But in general, take pictures to remind oneself of experiences so one can show the family, the friends, the random person who will listen, and maybe one day, even the future grandkids.

5. Luke, I am Your Father

The fifth and perhaps most important lesson I learned from Cinque Terre is the importance of positivity. Be real, but stay away from the dark side. People will want to be around the person who is having fun despite the circumstances, the person who chooses to be joyful even when her journal gets soaked and turns into a soggy pile of bleeding pastels. Surround oneself with positive people and more than likely a positive and wonderful weekend will ensue.

There are many lessons I learned from these picturesque little towns on the sea. These were my personal top five. Cinque Terre can bring out the adventure and fun inside every tourist.  Apparently, it can even bring out the inner Socrates. In this hidden jewel on the coast of Italy, anyone can easily learn their very own “cinque” insights.

-Diana Ruppenthal

Friends loving the scenery in Manarola (the smallest of the famous Cinque Terre towns).

Friends loving the scenery in Manarola (the smallest of the famous Cinque Terre towns)