Fresh Focaccia Bread – Backpack France, Switzerland, & Italy

Buongiorno from Italy!

We have just completed the first leg of Italy with our time spent in the beautiful La Spezia and Cinque Terre. Upon first arriving in La Spezia, we set off for our first taste of real Italian food. We strolled along cobblestone streets, following our noses to the smell of fresh pizza. Here, Katie salvaged her cravings for authentic caprese salad, while Benji enjoyed a truffle-based pizza. We could not get over how fresh and delicious the bread was, and Grace exclaimed that this was the best pizza she has ever had in her life, covered in pesto of course. After dinner, we took a walk to our first gelato stop, and Jason raved about the stracciatella flavor that he got. Jake kept it simple with lemon, while Danny enjoyed vanilla. The girls then discovered a fresh frozen yogurt cart on the way back to our hotel, which served up frozen yogurt with a choice of multiple sauces and toppings- this quickly became a favourite for Jolie, Stella, Jessica and Kat. We then settled in for our first night, and rested up for our exploration of the Cinque Terre villages. After cleaning our clothes at the laundromat the following morning, we set off to visit three beautiful and unique villages. On the train over, Grant, Matt B., and Benji decided to play security for the group, and took turns rotating on lookout. Discussions are in the works for matching sunglasses.
Backpack France, Switzerland, & Italy
The first village we visited was Corniglia, where we climbed 382 steps to reach the beautiful village. The granita that we discovered at the top was worth the climb! Katie and Jolie took beautiful pictures overlooking the scenery, while Gustaf and the boys set out to purchase some oil and vinegar (more on this to come). After Corniglia, we visited Manarola for a short time. Kat and Stella discussed how this was one of the most beautiful places they had seen, and could imagine how happy the locals must be to wake up to such colourful views. After taking in the views of the coast, we set off to our final town of the night, which was Riomaggiore. Here, we enjoyed the local cuisine, including spaghetti carbonara, and trofie with pesto. After a fun-filled day we headed back to the hotel, and of course, made a stop for more gelato. The following morning, the boys joined Trip Leader Mike to explore the fresh market that set up shop right outside of our hotel. Here, they purchased fresh focaccia, tomatoes, and burrata cheese to go along with the oil and vinegar they had purchased. They made themselves fresh sandwiches to enjoy for breakfast. After breakfast, we walked out to the port, where we boarded a ferry that took us to the five villages by sea. Danny could not believe the castles that he was seeing, while Benji and Grant learned about the military history that surrounded us. Grant also educated us about how the fields are used for growing grapes to make local wine.

The last stop of the ferry was Monterosso, which is the largest beach town of the five villages. Here, we enjoyed some of the most incredible fresh focaccia breads, and cookies. We then took a stroll down to the beach where we set up for the rest of the afternoon. We spent the rest of our day sun-bathing, swimming in the sea, going to walks along the beach, and sampling more granita and village treats. Our dinner that night was a real treat, including Jolie’s fresh off-the-coast lobster pasta, and Kat’s scampi spaghetti. Kat’s face was priceless when the scampi were served to her still in their shells. Luckily, Jason was brave and was able to help her out! Katie, Matt S., and Jess shared a fruit and cheese platter as an appetizer that looked incredible! We were greeted there by the new members of our group, and we could not have been more excited to meet them! After a dinner all together, we headed back to our hotel for some gelato and ice breakers before we said goodnight. The last day in Cinque Terre, the group set out on a hike from the last of the villages, Vernazza, down to Monterosso, followed by a beautiful afternoon at the beach, where we continued to get to know the new members of our group. Tomorrow, we are off to Venice, and I am sure there is going to be a lot to write about!!


The Westcoast Blogger

Do you want to join this amazing adventure? Get ready for our one-of-a-kind Italy, France and Switzerland tour with a small group of high school students.

Glass Souvenirs – On Tour Backpack France, Switzerland, & Italy

Bonjourno from Italy!

We have arrived in the final country that we will be visiting on our incredible backpacking trip and there couldn’t have been a better place to start than the beautiful La Spezzia. We were also very excited to be able to welcome our new trip members into our trip family as they joined us there. We were all able to enjoy a fantastic day of hiking and relaxing at the beach in Cinque Terre.

We visited Corniglia before hiking the magnificent trail that goes from Vernazza to Monterosso. These three villages, which make up part of Cinque Terre all felt so dainty and adorable! Along the hike were many views of the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea, which Avery was excited to catch a glimpse of for the first time ever. Rachel took some awesome photos and Kayla described the scenery as “walking through a postcard”.

At the end of the hike, we got to enjoy a dip in the ocean. Maria and Julia M. were the first ones in. Marta, Hayley and Jason were not far behind!
We then enjoyed our first taste of real Italian food which definitely lives up to it’s reputation! Sophie brought us to her favorite seafood restaurant in Monterosso that was located on a cliff overlooking the sea. Our new favorite gelato place, Gusto, became our nightly hang out! Where Cori discovered dark chocolate flavored sorbet that quickly became a new trip hit!

Hayley, Ariel and Matt were really into the photo scavenger hunt we did before our final dinner in La Spezzia. Everyone came back with crazy photos including pizza selfies, photos of local chihuahuas and human pyramids!

As sad as we were to leave Cinque Terre, we were equally excited to get to Venice! On our first night there, we cheered on Germany as we watched them win the World Cup from Venice’s largest American pub! Johnny and Matteo have loved being able to keep up with the soccer matches in different
European cities.

We learnt a lot about the history of the Venetian Jews on our guided synagogue tour, which Sophie really enjoyed. We were then all amazed by a glass blowing demonstration that we watched and many of us even got some authentic Murano glass souvenirs! Misha, Matteo and Julia M. discovered secret passageways as they explored Doge’s palace. Taylor and Julia W. had an exceptional time on the gondola ride we took, on which we got a true feel of Venice from its many canals!

As we pack our bags, sad to say farewell to this beautiful city, we eagerly await all that Florence has in store for us!

Ciao for now,

The Westcoast Blogger

Do you want to join this amazing adventure? Get ready for our one-of-a-kind Italy, France and Switzerland tour with a small group of high school students.

A Refreshing Jump – Florence – Pre-College Enrichment

Hi! Buongiorno! We’ve just wrapped up our first full weekend of the program, and after awesome back-to-back day trips, we’re happy to be back in home sweet home Florence! On Friday morning, we had the opportunity to see two of Florence’s cultural gems: Michelangelo’s masterpiece sculpture, The David, and one of the world’s most prized art […]

La Dolce Vita in Venice – Backpack Italy

Bonjourno from Venice! We just wrapped up a great few days in La Speiza and Cinque Terre. The group really enjoyed our scenic hikes, the small Italian towns nestled into the hills, the beaches, and of course heaps of gelato. Hannah, Lana, and Patrick took full advantage of our beach surroundings. They gave tribal body […]

So Far So Great with On Tour Backpack Italy!

Hello from Italy! Before we knew it, we had landed in Italy and embarked on our own journey to get through customs and read the Italian signs.  While we waited for the rest of our group to arrive, Marc taught us how to play a traditional Italian card game and Madeline P. assigned us our Italian names. After […]

Accomplishing Italy! – Backpack Europe

Dear friends and family, As we depart La Spezia, a town located at the southern end of the Cinque Terra region (and our home base for the past 4 nights), we can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing that we fully explored all five villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. On our […]