Stumbling Through Italy

I should be bubble-wrapped and placed into a plastic cage that rolls.

I’m a walking disaster, a complete klutz. I have been a hazardous nightmare for as long as I can remember.

To recap, I am allergic to the sun, yet somehow still had skin cancer on my face. I am allergic to gluten and to shellfish. I have a sliding kneecap, and I trip over air.
Do you see how I should be trapped and blocked off from society? Yeah, I pretty much think that my mom would like to place me in a glass container, away from other people. Sometimes, I would like to place myself in a container too.

As a pale, fair-skinned girl, who had skin cancer but is allergic to the sun, shellfish and gluten, traveling takes extreme planning. The weather is either too hot or too cold, but it doesn’t really matter because it makes my skin red either way, super unfortunate too. Unless I’m by the ocean, shellfish is usually not an issue, but being gluten-free in Europe is hard. When I’m in a new and different place (other than London), I struggle to eat real food most days.

So when I decided to spend over a week in Italy, everyone, including me, thought I was stupid. However, I found myself in the depths of endless gelato cups and tantalizing views – ones I would not exchange for anything else. Not even the horrifying 24 hours where I had an allergic reaction and fell down a mountain, nope, still worth it.

True Story. My last 48 hours in Italy started out beautiful. My friends and I did a wine tasting at a place called Vivanda in Florence. They made their own organic wine, pasta and cheese. I fell in love with their gluten-free asparagus flan and gluten-free, handmade pasta. Afterwards, we found a place that made gluten-free woodfired pizzas. I was in absolute food heaven. Gluten-free food heaven – in Italy of all places!

Vivanda, gluten-free, fresh pasta (omg so good)
Vivanda, gluten-free, fresh pasta (omg so good)

The next morning on our way to Pisa, I found a chocolate gluten-free croissant at the Florence train station. Every sign in the world pointed towards a great last weekend in Italy. It took a turn for the worse, when I sat next to someone who obnoxiously ate two apples. Then all of my Pisa pictures turned out bad, but that’s okay – you win some, you lose some. But it went downhill from there, dramatically fast.

We made it to Riomaggiore, the first stop in Cinque Terra. Our group of seven had a few minor problems getting into our hotel, like the fact that the hotel manager was not there even though we emailed him what time we were getting there. We also could not find it because it was hidden in between two steep stairwells, very bizarre.

After settling into our hotel room, we decided to hike from Riomaggiore to Manorola. The via dell’amore trail from Riomaggiore to Manorola is permanently closed because of a natural landslide, so we did the alternative hike. The day manager at the hotel said it was an easy to a medium hike, as she hiked it every morning.

It was not an easy hike. It was a never ending hike to burn off all you body fat and then propel you over the side of the cliff because it was so steep. Once you got to the top, you didn’t know whether to be happy or sad because the unfortunate part was going up was easier than going down. I think my life flashed before my eyes going down. I made it, somehow. I really have no idea. I slid a lot, and I prayed that I would not fall down the sharp incline or even steeper stairs.   

After the hike, we went to get drinks and antipasto plates while soaking up the amazing ocean views. Then we went to dinner. I was pretty full from the antipasto plate and very sick of salads at this point (it had been a week of non-stop salads for lunch and dinner), so I ordered a plate of fries. Alas, alarm bells should have gone off, but no they didn’t. We were on the ocean and everyone ordered seafood. So when I started to eat my fries and notice that they had red talons from shrimp, I should have stopped eating them. But I did not stop until my head felt like it was going to explode, I was on fire, and I felt nauseous. Then I noticed the rash all over my chest. Of course I pulled out my phone and saw that my face was red and swollen. Bad news, Katey.

So basically my night ended there. Everyone else was able to stay up and hang out, but I had to pop some Benadryl and sleep off my reaction. It probably was not the best idea to go hiking the next day, still groggy, but I did.

I am not a hiker. At least that is what I thought before I hiked in Cinque Terra. I fell in love with the challenge of continuing to trek up a seemingly endless terrain, all while looking at the breathtaking views.

I fell in love with the views. The first hike went well, from Monterosso to Vernazza, and it was pretty flat once you reached the plateau, which took about 20 minutes of intense ascension and steep stairs. All was well. I had four scoops of gelato and a celebrity spotting (Kate Micucci, if you were curious). Hopes were high, but they came tumbling down. Like actually tumbling down.

I fell down the mountain. My legs just kind of gave out, and there were these steps down to a plateau. The rocks were slippery, and I was in Adidas Superstars… You can just imagine this scene. (This actually happened, shoutout to Alyssa, Georgia and Nicole who all witnessed this and still remained my friend). I slid down several sharp, rocky steps for approximately 10 seconds. I then proceeded to scream several curse words, jump up and down like an energizer bunny and then head straight back on the trail.

Alyssa chased after me with Kleenex and used my water to try and douse my superficial wounds. But nothing could treat my wounded pride.

A lovely park attendant poured Betadine all over my arm and hand to disinfect the bleeding nightmare, but it still scarred. I now have a lovely scar on my forearm from cutting open my arm.

So basically, Italy was great until the last 48 hours, in which, my inner klutz came out to play. So let’s bubble-wrap me so that the next time I try to hike in non-hiking shoes, I won’t slide down a mountain. But then again, if we bubble wrapped me, where would all my good stories come from?