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LIGURE/CINQUE TERRE

Five pastel colored villages overlooking the sea.

Boasting dramatic coastal views, terraced landscapes, picturesque harbors abundant with fishing boats, cliffside trattorias serving fresh seafood, romantic sunsets, and postcard perfect panoramas, the stretch of Cinque Terre coast never fails to absorb its visitors.  Each of the five glorious towns are dotted with small pastel colored homes flanked by lush nature and the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Your experience to this enchanting area must include a hike along the path connecting the five ancient hilltop villages that give the area its name. Begin in Monterosso al Mare, a village that boasts the only beach of the five towns.  Surrounded by the natural beauty of the coast, spend the day lounging beneath the warm Italian sun while cooling down with a lemon gelato.
From Monterosso, venture toward the quaint, colorful harbor of Vernazza.  Charming cafes and shops line the main street.  Narrow side streets lead to Genoa-style caruggi, a trademark of the village, where sea views abound at every corner. 
Cornigila, the smallest and quietest of the five towns is famous for its exquisite wine production.  Try the locally produced Cinque Terre DOC or the acclaimed Pollenza and pair it with a traditional dish of the region – trofie, a twisted-shaped pasta, topped with a generous heap of pesto.  

Manarola, rich with more vineyards than any of the other five towns, sits atop a cliff facing the tumbling sea below.  One of the most romantic villages of Cinque Terre, dazzle in extraordinary views while enjoying the village’s famed Sciacchetra wine.  Stroll along the famous Via dell’Amore connecting Manarola to Riomaggiore and stop along the way to sip a limonata with a view. 
As the largest of the five villages, Riomaggiore is best known for the region’s picturesque scenery, where its pastel buildings glow against fiery sunsets.  In Riomaggiore, take notice of the beautiful mural created by Italo-Argentine artist Silvio Benedetto: commemorating the workers who constructed 300 million cubic feet of dry stone walls throughout Cinque Terre.  Awe inspiring, this mural captures and commemorates this amazing feat. 
Whether you are up for the challenge of hiking the five towns or sitting back and basking in the view from a boat, the jagged cliffs, pastel hued homes and sea will certainly enthrall you enhancing your authentic Italian experience.

PORTOVENERE : The port of poets
Sail along the Golfo dei Poeti and you will spot Portovenere, where famous poets such as Byron and Shelley called home. It is the perfect town for a romantic day trip just south from Cinque Terre or a more permanent locale for exploring the Ligurian coast.  Blended together in unique yet idealist form, the brightly colored harbor homes lead to narrow medieval streets that pull you from the ancient city gate to the town’s castle.

PORTFOFINO, SANTA MARGHERITA LIGURE & CAMOGLI : The chic & timeless Italian Rivera
From Cinque Terre, hug the shores around the Golfo Paradiso where the seaside resort towns of the Italian Riviera will lure you with their charm.  With palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze, lively cafes, elegant facades decorated with trompe-l’oeil frescoes and a marina filled with yachts, Santa Marghertia Ligure remains one of the favored towns on the Riveria. It is more tempered than its luxurious, exclusive, and ultra-famous neighbor, Portofino, which remains a posh playground for the rich and famous. This exclusive hamlet has been a haven for artists, celebrities and royalty.  The brightly-colored buildings of Portofino are surrounded by rich, verdant vegetation and its harbor is one of the most picturesque sites in all of Italy.  Enjoy sunset drinks in the cobblestoned Piazzetta overlooking the harbor dotted with impressive yachts. Later, meander the streets where charming shops and cafes await. 

A short trip away from Portofino lies San Fruttoso, a 10th century abbey nestled at the foot of sloping mountains, which can be reached by foot via hiking trails or by sea. Explore the abbey and gaze at the Cristo degli Abissi statue submerged below its pristine waters.

Carry on toward Camogli, a relaxed, authentic fishing village.  Known as the “city of a thousand white sails,” Camogli remained an important seaport during the Middle Ages.  Camogli offers the opportunity to relax, embrace, and appreciate pure beauty and serenity.  Indulge your sweet tooth with a stop at a local pasticceria for some Camogliesi, doughy handmade treats with creamy fillings like rum and amaretto or almond and hazelnut. Nibble on a sugar-dusted cookie oozing with warm chocolate or local ricotta. The area is also known for the best focaccia. With its crispy crust and airy core, it is no wonder locals enjoy this regional delight.    
As you follow along the well-known, but lightly traveled stone footpath, take in the abundant olive groves, citrus trees, and palm trees. Scents of wild lavender bushes and rosemary heighten the experience as you pass along toward San Rocco.  Here, indulge your taste buds with traditional Ligurian dishes while admiring the magnificent countryside and reflect on the journey.