By Bobbie Lerman, Parker Villas Senior Travel Advisor
This past August I spent a week on the Italian Riviera, a region of Italy I had not visited. Apart from the abundance of gorgeous seas, charming villages, pastel colored houses and outstanding seafood, one of the main reasons I chose the region of Liguria was to visit the Cinque Terre. I had heard about this heralded attraction on the eastern corner of the Ligurian coastline from fellow travelers and clients for years. The five villages always garner rave reviews as one of the most quaint, picturesque and romantic spots in Italy. Authentic, charming, a wonderful place to kick back and relax while watching the world go by was the consensus I most often heard. All of the characteristics I look for when choosing a travel destination, a perfect choice to spend at least one full day, maybe two or three I thought ...
Our home base in the small town of Bogliasco turned out to be all of the above and more. Perched on the Ligurian coast 12 kilometers east of Genoa, this enchanting village with a pretty cobblestone promenade winding its way past rainbow colored houses and pebbly beach coves is a spot I highly recommend. That is, if you seek the more authentic and decidedly non-hectic rhythm of Italian village life. I thought if the Terre villages turn out to be anything like Bogliasco, I might seriously need to relocate.
For our day planned in the Cinque Terre, the first matter we needed to figure out was how to get there. At this time of year there are four options open to us: we can go by car, train, a combination of train and hiking or by boat. I’m not much of a hiker and with a canopy of cloudless blue skies, an equally clear and calm turquoise sea and temperatures in the mid-eighties by day, my husband and I decide a boat ride would be the most enjoyable.
There are a variety of seasonal boats and tours operating from various villages along the Riviera through mid-September. We chose the Tigullio-Super Cinque Terre tour which leaves Rapallo every weekday morning. The dock is located along Via Lungomare Vittoria. You’ll find their little white booth in the center of Rapallo’s seaside promenade. If you get lost, look for the tourist office across the street. The boat leaves precisely at 9 AM. Plan to be gone all day, not returning to Rapallo until close to 5 PM. The price of a ticket is €30.50 per person.
We quickly snag a topside spot where we are able to enjoy the fresh sea air and the spectacular views as the ferry heads into the Ligurian Sea. Clean, spacious, with comfortable seating and a well stocked bar serving good espresso, tea (Earl Grey), homemade snacks, and much to my husband’s joy, a variety of gelato. Anticipating our first look at the Cinque Terre we settled back to enjoy a relaxing cruise down the coast.
Our first stop is the small fishing village of Lavagna. Pulling up to the dock to pick up a few more people, we are immediately drawn by the picturesque harbor. Ringed by mountains the town rises from a thick ledge of ebony black stones. Colorful homes in bright canary yellow, tangerine and sparkling white reach up to the sky. From the ferry guide we learn this marble-like stone is the town’s main export used nowadays for making high end billiard tables. From a friendly Italian couple sitting in front, we learn that Lavagna has remained an undiscovered haven well worth a trip on its own merit.
Leaving Lavagna, the ferry hugs the rocky coast and within minutes we pass an array of blue and white striped umbrellas set on what I discover is the longest uninterrupted sandy beach in the region.
Stay tuned for: Le Cinque Terre — the Perfect Approach Part 2