My first experience of an train travel in Italy was everything you'd expect it to be, complete with delays, missed connections and a lonely martini at a train station bar.
It would've been a lovely day. The Cinque Terre is just under an hour and a half away from Camogli on the train, so I'd get there for around half 3. I'd be able to explore at least three of the villages, hiking between them all (obviously), calories literally falling off of me, whilst taking photos worthy of a Conde Nast publication. I'd then congratulate myself at the end with several Aperol Spritz on a terrace, served by a gorgeous Italian man who would be so obviously enamoured with me he would lavish me with free peanuts and tiny pizza-like pastries.
Firstly, 'twas not the sunglasses and large sunhat weather my BBC Weather app had promised me but, in fact, anorak weather. So, I arrived at the train station a very soggy woman.
Once at the train station I realised I was going to have to take three different regional trains to get to Corniglia, the third village of the Cinque Terre, since I'd missed the only direct train of the day by about five hours. Then, having realised half-way through my (slightly delayed) train that I was supposed to validate my ticket at Camolgli, I spent the next half an hour in a state of sheer panic, googling horror stories about vulnerable tourists and cruel ticket officers who charge abominable fines to those who forget to stamp their tickets.
I arrived at the second train station twenty minutes after the train was due to arrive, just in time to see my next train disappear and, after several very confusing conversations with two unapproachable train guards, I established that the next train wouldn't arrive for another half an hour.
'..But, I'm in Italy!', thought I. 'The sea is close, I can investigate a new village, no matter that I'll arrive at dusk. All experience in the greater name of adventure!.. Plus, its not like I'm in an office, rejoice!'
Sestri Levante, requires quite a long walk from train station to beach, along quite a long autostrada. When I finally reached the beach, everything was closed and looked much like that scene in the Wizard of Oz, where everyone has abandoned ship and run for cover underground, just before Dorothy passes out and it all becomes colourful. I end up just going for a very long walk along a motorway.
The next two trains were delayed so I spent a bit more time lurking about funny train stations and sending frustrated texts to friends in London.
In the end, I didn't reach Corniglia. I did get to Vernazza, the second village along the Cinque Terre, and it was beautiful, but that's a post for another day. All you need to know for now, is that I ended up getting a much earlier train back to Camogli than intended, for fear of never getting home, and downing two very large (and very reasonably price, mind) martinis at a train station en-route.
For all you brave souls out there who are going to take a train in Italy, I've write a few helpful tips over here, to help you on your way.