Tuesday, December 09, 2008

One Week in Lerici...

Lerici & The Gulf of Poets

The season has come and gone (a while ago actually considering the brutal fall we’ve had), but it’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s Italian adventure! As property manager of a lovely villa here in Lerici, I am often asked, “What would we do with a week in the Cinque Terre”?

Well, first of all, Lerici is not in the Cinque Terre, but in the gorgeous Gulf of Poets nearby. Secondly, there is so much beyond the Cinque Terre (and the other famous Riviera hotspot, Portofino) that you could actually skip these two and still have a fabulous time.
BUT I don’t actually recommend that. Instead, I believe they are a part of what could be one incredibly fun and enriching week while staying in Lerici.

So here is my suggested “itinerary” for the week. It’s based on a Saturday to Saturday stay, just because most rentals are that way (not mine though!):

Day 1 - Saturday
Arrive settle in to you accommodations and take a “passegiata” along the lungomare of
Lerici. Don’t forget to enjoy a glass of Prosecco at sunset from Bar Pontile or Corona, followed by a delicious Ligurian meal at either Bonta Nasconte or Golfo dei Poeti.

Lerici Port & Lungomare

Day 2 - Sunday
Board the 25 minute ferry across the bay to the gem of a place called
Portovenere. Explore it’s 1000-year old carruggi (little alleyways), the commanding Castle Doria, the calata boardwalk and the colorful facades of the palazzi, take a swim in Byron’s Bay and don’t miss the breathtaking views from the porch of San Pietro. All this and a good meal at Da Iseo or Bacicio, and then head back by ferry to Lerici.

San Pietro & Byron's Bay, Portovenere

Day 3 - Monday
Assuming you have a car, drive to the Sarzana train station only 12 minutes away (non-car people can take the bus which runs every 20 minutes) where you can catch the train to
Le Cinque Terre. Spend the day hiking between villages as well as swimming in the sapphire blue Med. I suggest lunch at one of my all time favorite restaurants in the area, La Lanterna in Riomaggiore. Trains run back to Sarzana until early evening.

The Vines & Trails high above Le Cinque Terre

Day 4 - Tuesday

You can either drive or take the train from La Spezia to the truly fascinating and underrated city of
Genoa. The architecture is unbelievable and the old city center is the largest in Italy, full of history and color! Make sure to stop at the port as well, maybe even the aquarium (especially with kids).

Palazzo Reale, Genoa

Day 5 - Wednesday

30 minutes south is the Tuscan resort town of
Forte dei Marmi which holds its famous flea market every Wednesday. Go and scout out some deals, but be prepared for some hefty prices as well - this is the only flea market I know of where you can actually buy real designer stuff!

Afterward, head 20 minutes east into the marble mountains of
Carrara where you can tour inside a quarry at Fantiscritti.

If you’re still raring to go, make a stop in the medieval walled village of
Sarzana for an aperitivo and passegiata, one of the best in Liguria.

Carrara "snow"

Day 6 - Thursday
Living la Dolce Vita can be found in
Portofino just an hour north by car and slightly longer by train (due to stops). There is not a whole to see in Portofino but it does provide for some of the best people watching around, especially in the summer when the uber-yachts arrive. You can also hike to or take the ferry boat to beautiful San Fruttuoso.

If Portofino proves to “high roller” for your taste, head 15 minutes north to the seaside village of
Camogli which oozes old world charm.

The Inlet of Portofino

Day 7 - Friday
One of the most authentic and enjoyable outdoor markets I have experienced in Italy happens to be in
La Spezia. The city gets a bad rap for being just another ugly port town, it’s not (nor is this the first time I've mentioned this but...)! They have really clean up the place over the past 5 years and now you can enjoy some beautiful Liberty style architecture, a lovely port side promenade, excellent restaurants for a fraction of the cost of the neighboring tourist areas and on Friday, the always fun flea market on Via Garibaldi, the deals are really deals here!

In afternoon, I say enjoy it at one of Lerici’s 5 sand beaches. There are some nice beach clubs where you can rent chairs and umbrellas such as Lido di Lerici and Colombo, or you can go free to Venere Azzura and San Terenzo beaches.

Port & City Center of La Spezia

Day 8 - Saturday

Bid arrivederci to Lerici knowing with another week you could visit: Lunigiana, Lucca, Pisa, Versilia and more in one hour or less (heck, you could even lunch in Monte Carlo, only 2 1/2 hours away!).  Needless to say, you touch the surface with one week in Lerici.

Hope to see you here soon!

Portovenere from Palmaria Island


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hello Megan..a great post, I am surely going to have to return to Italy. We have just been to Liguria for 10 day..still doing my posts about the places we visited. Yes you are right about Portofino, not a lot to do..but a fabulous place. Here is my link to the post, hope you don't mind. http://anne-arnott.blogspot.com/2008/11/portofino-and-sante-margherita-ligure.html

- Susan - said...

Hi Megan,

great post! I will send my father in law the link (via Militaria...)

I still need to post this restaurant above Lerici, curious if you know it? (have to find the card)

And one more thing about friends: you said you have around 5... this is A LOT!
Maybe there is a different definition of friends in Europe and the US ??
ciao a dopo

Anonymous said...

Another enticing blog! Can't wait to return! som

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Meg, fabulous post! It gives a really well rounded idea of what a person can do in a week -- and that is just from Genoa to La Spezia! The area is so special and you know it so well (wonder why).

Can't wait to see you again.

Megan in Liguria said...

Ciao Suzie - Could it be Pin Bon or Osteria Redarca???

Megan in Liguria said...

Anne - Thanks for the link. Great photos! M:)

Polideuce said...

hai menzionato dei bellissimi posti, ma quello che preferisco rimane Portovenere; c'ero andato anni fa per rilevare un edificio e vi avevo passato due giorni, la sera tornavo a casa, e oltre al rilievo avevo trovato il tempo di visitare il castello e la chiesa.
Ricordo che dal castello, credo, c'è una stradetta che porto sulla scogliera...mi era seduto sulle pietre scaldate dal sole e mi ero perso a guardare il mare; bellissimo posto

Anonymous said...

your blog and your comments are absolutely perfect as the pictures
My best greeting for the New Year

Anonymous said...

Hi, just want to invite you and your readers to our site about the cinque terre
( in my signature ) and to the blog where you can also vote the nicest of the 5 Terre.
Also a video section is online: Video of the Cinque Terre, a different point of view..

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