Throughout lengthy experiments and exhaustive projects, the day-to-day grind can wear a researcher down, sometimes to the point of slowing work rather than advancing it. When time doesn’t permit a lengthy vacation, a long weekend away is a great alternative for getting some needed refreshment. Less travel time and planning are required for a shorter trip, and work can quickly be resumed afterward – with a renewed mind.
Italy’s Cinque Terre is the perfect spot for a brief getaway. As birds soar in the crisp air, the sky-blue Ligurian Sea splashes below along the rocky shoreline. Pastel-colored buildings mark the five towns hugging the coast, each with their unique layouts. Natural colors of sea and land bring a calm and tranquility to any weary soul. Early fall is an optimal time to stay. As tourist season comes to a close, the area becomes less crowded, but the weather is still comfortably in the mid 20’s during the day and mid teens at night.
The landscape allows for outdoor excursions ranging from easygoing to strenuous. Sentiero Azzur, the famous footpath linking the villages, can be hiked in a day, with time to explore each village and admire the vistas in between. Many alternative footpaths line the coast, explorable on foot or by mountain bike. For a different view of the shoreline, paddle alongside Cinque Terre in a rented kayak. After an exciting day, the local train or pedestrian ferries are easy choices for returning to the place of accommodation.
For those who aren’t thrill seekers, options still abound for relaxing and enjoying the panoramic views. Many prime spots can be found to settle into a good book, including the comfort of your own rented room if it includes a verandah with an overlook. Several coffee shops and restaurants offer seascapes from which to enjoy a fascinating read. Or grab a towel and be refreshed by the crystal waters. Choose from sandy beaches, pebble beaches, or deep swimming off rocks! Explore the coast by boat tour, or use the train to venture the area. Admire the wondrous architecture and beauty of the old churches. In the evening, savor some delicious local delicacies and wine varietals.
Whatever the choice of leisure, research may temporarily be forgotten while nature, sunlight, and rest restores the scientist’s mind and body. Cinque Terre is a magical place of exquisite beauty to be visited more than once. Instead of rushing around to see everything in a few days, time may be balanced between excursions and intentional rest. Perhaps a long weekend trip can be made to Cinque Terre once a year when a “reset” is needed to keep research as productive as possible. Wherever the destination may be, a few days away from the lab will go a long way to affect the next hundred days in the lab.