Treasures of The Cinque Terre



Thanks Liesl Schillinger @wordbirds


It was a stroke of luck, really, that my luggage was lost when I flew to Italy this summer to visit the jewel box villages of the Cinque Terre — five heart-stoppingly picturesque hamlets on the Ligurian coast, dotted with pastel houses nestled amid terraced hills that drop to the jade and lapis waters of the Mediterranean. All I had with me were my eyes and feet. For the next few days, that would be all I needed. Unencumbered, I could leap lightly onto trains and trails, feeling sorry for the heavily laden travelers around me, even as I mourned the absence of my hiking sandals. And I saw at once that the Cinque Terre (pronounced CHING-kway TAY-ray) should not be reserved as a bucket-list destination: they are best seen pre-bucket, while you are still limber enough to hop on and off platforms and boats, scamper up winding medieval staircases and clamber onto slick sunning rocks in secluded coves and on friendly beaches.

A millennium ago, when pirates began marauding in the region, the Cinque Terre had no beaches (or, for that matter, trains), and villagers hid high on the hills amid their vineyards and gardens. Eventually, they built watchtowers to look out for buccaneers. Those watchtowers still spike the coastline, darkly romantic mementos of an age of swords and bullion.

Half a dozen centuries later, following the raiders’ retreat, a garland of beaches and breakfronts bloomed at water’s edge, eventually attracting an invasion of vacationers. They came to sunbathe, to swim, to eat fresh fish and to admire the dazzlingly archaic backdrop of the villages. They also came to do by choice what local farmers and fishermen had done out of necessity: hike the vertiginous stone stairways and narrow paths that link the villages and afford breathtaking views.

I had longed to visit the Italian coast for years, spurred in part by a racy Victorian memoir by an intrepid traveler named Margaret Fountaine, who wrote in “Love Among the Butterflies” of her hunt for Italy’s sublime views and handsome men. “No wonder these southern natures are quick and passionate when every scene around them is such sensuous loveliness!” she rhapsodized.

When, more recently, I read “Beautiful Ruins,” Jess Walter’s bewitching 2012 novel set in the Cinque Terre, on an islet called Porto Vergogna, my inchoate longing acquired a specific destination, and I got on a plane. It would be impossible, alas, to visit Porto Vergogna, since the author had made it up. But I could stay in the dreamy village that inspired his novel, Monterosso al Mare, the northernmost of the terre. I booked a hotel with excellent views — Porto Roca, perched on a rocky hill called Punta Corone above the town’s historic center.  This would be my base for five days of feasting, boating and hiking, and a swim in the grotto where Lord Byron once skinny-dipped, below the nearby cliffs of Porto Venere, the harbor of Venus.

Unlike Margaret Fountaine, I would have no belli ragazzi (beautiful young men) in my viewfinder. I was traveling with my friend Susan, who had jetted in from London to join me, leaving behind her husband and children. But as we descended the steps of the Monterosso train station to the beach promenade along the Via Fegina — Susan with her carry-on, me empty-handed — orange and white butterflies fluttered down from the pink oleanders and palms that lined the sidewalk, as if in welcome. Grinning in the sunshine, baking in the heat, we stopped at a roadside stand and treated ourselves to gelato — creamy fior di latte and tart mango — and set about the leisurely walk from the Via Fegina, through a muraled pedestrian tunnel, to the harbor of Monterosso’s old town, then uphill to the Hotel Porto Roca.

Planning this trip, I had been stymied from embarrassment of choice. Which village to visit first? Which next? And how to get there: Walk, boat or train? The missing suitcase made the decision easy: the first night we stayed in Monterosso, awaiting calls from the airline (which never came). Around 7 o’clock, we strolled down the hill to Monterosso’s centro storico to see what serendipity might provide. The sun still blazed, and the stone walls along the Via Corone radiated the heat of the 90-degree day. Pausing for an aperitivo on the Bar Bagni Alga patio, which overlooked festive ranks of green and orange beach umbrellas and sun beds, we watched fearless teenagers fling themselves off high rock ledges and splash, whooping, into the sea.

Invigorated, we resumed our saunter to the old town, passed a bocce court where old men played unhurriedly and turned through an archway onto the Piazza Garibaldi, then into the Piazza Colombo, in search of the perfect meal.

There were simply too many options — bouquets of umbrellas tempted us from the paving stones, left and right; the scent of lobster and aglio e olio wafted up deliriously from alfresco tables.  A wine festival (there’s always some festival afoot in the Cinque Terre) on the piazza distracted us, but after sampling half a dozen glasses of locally grown, sunny and playful vermentino, we followed a peach-colored light to an inviting alleyway off the Via Roma and floated into the Ristorante Al Carugio. There, within minutes, we were waited on by the owner’s strapping son, Rico Currarini, and soon dipped our forks into fettuccini with succulent mussels, netted from the waters of La Spezia, and tender trofie — the region’s signature pasta, shaped like mini-torches, irresistibly slippery with pesto (a Ligurian invention, by the way). 

Here is where the stroke of luck truly began.

Two years ago, on Oct. 25, 2011, a torrential rainfall hit the Cinque Terre, drenching the olive groves, vineyards and lemon orchards, flooding the streams, shattering the tracery of stone walls that support the terraces and sending a wave of mud and rubble into the two northernmost villages, Monterosso and Vernazza. Every business in Vernazza was damaged or destroyed. In Monterosso, the main street of the old town, Via Roma, was transformed into a rushing river. The cozy, spick-and-span restaurant where we were enjoying our trofie had been swamped in mud. Rico spent weeks mopping up the mess.

How did we know this? By chance, a blond woman at a table near ours on that late July night — Miriam Rossignoli — not only was a native Monterossan (her grandfather was mayor of the town during World War II, and was decorated for his anti-Fascist heroics), but was also a photographer. Miriam had exhaustively recorded the devastation of 2011 with her camera, and had turned her photographs into a book, “MonterossoAmare,” chronicling the disaster and its aftermath, and contrasting it with a 1966 flood of similar destructive power. Two years ago in Vernazza, “the mud went up to the second story of the houses,” she said. “It was terrible.”

Miriam offered to guide us the next day on a walk along the Sentiero Azzurro — the coastal path between the villages (picture the steps of a pyramid, set flush against a verdant mountain). The walk between Monterosso and Vernazza had been completely repaired, Miriam told us. But the path that usually connects all five villages stopped at the next village over, Corniglia, high in the hills. (Young backpackers take note: Corniglia draws the fittest visitors, as apparently nobody with a rolling bag can face the steep ascent.) The coastal path to the southernmost terre, Manarola and Riomaggiore, was still closed, as was the popular stretch between them, the “Lovers Walk.” 

We could still visit all the towns by train, Miriam assured us, or by tour boat (except for Corniglia, which has no harbor). And though the Sentiero Azzurro had been interrupted by rock slides south of Corniglia, stubborn hikers could still travel by foot between Monterosso and Riomaggiore on trails higher up the mountain. She urged us, at the very least, to visit the tiny village of Volastra, accessible by foot or by minibus from Manarola, where we could observe properly maintained orchards, olive groves and vineyards. The trailhead of the Sentiero Azzurro started right next to our hotel, she said. Could she pick us up the next morning and lead us to Vernazza? Delighted, we accepted.

It is such a mercy, in a terra incognita, when you’re afraid of missing the right sights, to have a knowledgeable local guide. Then again, having crisscrossed the rugged paths since she was in pigtails, Miriam dashed ahead of us like a mountain goat, completely unwinded, while we panted, grabbing at branches for balance and crouching as we ducked under rocky overhangs. Also, since my suitcase (with my brand-new hiking sandals) had yet to arrive, I was wearing three-inch wedge-heels — not the ideal footwear for scrambling up (and down) steps that spiral among rocks and shrubbery.

The walk, which is supposed to take under two hours, took us three (I was relieved, later, chatting on a local train with a 17-year-old Texan named Claudia, to learn that she’d also found the trek challenging: “I’m really happy I did it, but in the middle of it I wanted to kill myself,” she said. Exactly.) And yet — the views! Whenever Susan and I paused to catch our breath, we drank in the landscape — cataracts splitting the piney hillsides, lemon trees heavy with fruit, olive boughs snooded with orange netting — “the farmers shake the olives into the nets at harvest time,” Miriam explained. And when we looked out to the sunlit sea, where yachts and ketches frisked, we knew it was worth it, and that we would gladly do it again (though the next time we would remember to bring water).

We also knew that we were very, very hungry. When, from a rocky promontory fringed with feathery tamaricciu trees, we at last beheld Vernazza — a cluster of sage, golden and terra-cotta puzzle-piece houses hugging a piazza filled with a rainbow of cafe umbrellas — we doubled our pace.

Descending to the village, we found a festival in progress — it was the name day of Vernazza’s patron saint, Santa Margherita — and as Susan and I staggered down the last staircase to level ground, gasping with thirst, we saw priests issuing forth from the doors of the medieval butter-colored church, converging on the Piazza Marconi for a celebratory lunch. As Miriam herded us to an outdoor table at Gianni Franzi, a marching band came tootling down the piazza. She ordered for us her favorite dishes: squid ink risotto, its pungent pearls of molten arborio rice flecked with red peppers; gleaming, garlicky black mussels with spaghetti; linguine alle vongole, and best of all, a layered timbale of potatoes, tomatoes and melting, savory anchovies.

We were just digging into our pasta when a beaming mustachioed man passed by, saw Miriam, kissed her on the cheek in greeting, and sat next to her. He turned out to be the mayor of Vernazza and Corniglia, Vincenzo Resasco. Miriam, we belatedly realized, was something of a local celebrity. Enzo, as Miriam called him, was mayor in October 2011, and worked so hard restoring Vernazza in the first months after the flood that he had to be helicoptered to a hospital for heart palpitations.

He had recovered, and so had Vernazza, though restoration continues. Looking around us at the bustling restaurants, sun-dappled loggias, boutiques and focaccerias (and the long table 10 feet from ours, where a dozen priests were making merry), we could scarcely believe that disaster had so recently blighted this idyll.

Miriam would have to leave us before dinner, she told us, so we all hopped the next train back to Monterosso. But later, before she vanished into her weekend, she scooped us up onto a boat in the old town harbor captained by Beppe Martelli (a distant cousin), and off we scudded to see the Punta Mesca, at the western tip of Monterosso, just north of the public beach at Fegina, where a massive statue of Neptune called “Il Gigante” looms over the bay, clinging to a boulder. Erected a century ago, Neptune lost his arms and his trident to bombs during World War II. Since then, rough seas and winds have battered him, extending the damage, but his scars lend him character; he looks as if he has grafted himself to the Cinque Terre soil, and draws strength from it. “We’re not like Rome,” Miriam said proudly. “We don’t have a cathedral. Our museum is nature.”

Why, I wondered, as Susan and I walked to the Ristorante Miky on the Via Fegina, passing couples strolling hand in hand, had some of my well-traveled friends warned me that I would find the noble Cinque Terre “touristy?” (This, mind you, from people who regularly go to Aspen and Las Vegas.) Yes, there were tourists, visible in gaggles as they emerged from platforms and gangplanks or plopped their beach towels on the strand — but most of them dispersed into twining passageways, pursuing their individual whims. Would my sophisticated chums have preferred, like medieval pirates, to have arrived in Liguria to find empty, beachless, cafeless shores, and to scrabble up unpopulated rock faces to feast their eyes on the vegetation in utter solitude? Perhaps. But as we sat at a patio table at Miky, marveling at the fillet of Monterossan red mullet with eggplant and walnut caviar, we were not troubled by the happy families who sat near us, cracking delicate pizza crust over their fragrant bowls of risotto, or the honeymoon couples who leaned across their tables gazing moonily at each other. We didn’t even mind the children who cavorted under the palms across the Via Fegina, giggling over their ice creams. Not in the least.

The next morning, my suitcase arrived (minus my jewelry, which I had foolishly tucked into my checked baggage, but never mind; the change of clothes was the important thing), and under a sublimely blue sky, we boarded a tour boat to Porto Venere. As we pulled up to the Gulf of Poets — which got its name after Lord Byron swam the five miles from Porto Venere to Lerici in 1822, supposedly to meet his friend Shelley — we saw the hulking Gothic church of San Pietro, built upon the ruins of a temple to Venus, looming from a stone cliff above the village.

Walking up from the harbor, through an arched gateway and up a staircase, we reached the Via Capellini, Porto Venere’s main road, no wider than a library corridor. The church was only a three-minute walk away, and at its foot we saw a rough rectangular entry in a high wall made of stacked stones. This was the entrance to the Grotta Byron, which lets onto a perilous stairway down to Byron’s swimming hole. Stepping carefully, we crawled, crablike, onto sea-splashed rocks, and slid into the water for a dip as pleasure yachts lazed a few hundred yards away. I floated on my back, looking up to the towering cliffs.

Wanting to hop back on the next boat north, we soon returned to the Via Capellini, where we lunched at a petite cafe on tris di testaroli — Ligurian crepes with walnut sauce and Parmesan — and cool slivers of fresh tuna carpaccio, tangy with lemon-spritzed arugula, which deserved a Byronic ode. Later that night, we would take the train to Vernazza for Sue’s send-off and watch the sun set from a crow’s nest of a restaurant called Belforte, beside the town’s castle watchtower.

The next morning, sitting in the sunny waiting room of the Monterosso police station, to make a “denuncia” about my stolen treasures, I daydreamed as I looked through the window grille to the leafy branches outside the carabinieri. The young policewoman, Agata, dressed in a crisp light blue and navy uniform, her chest crossed with a white leather bandoleer, reminded me of a Gilbert and Sullivan soldier. She sympathetically took down my complaint, and when she heard what the thieves had done — removing the best jewelry and leaving the costume pieces — she gasped. “Hanno scelti!” (“They picked and chose!”) I just smiled, tucked the sheaf of impressively stamped documents she gave me into my backpack, and headed for the train to Riomaggiore, Manarola and Corniglia.

For the rest of the day, I would continue to greedily devour the wealth of a living museum whose brilliance defied thieves, tourists and nature at her worst. I had steps to climb, scenery to savor. I even took the minibus up to Volastra, as Miriam had recommended, and surveyed its lovingly tended vineyards; and this time I was wearing my hiking sandals for the walk down. If the pirates of the Mediterranean had managed to strike again, I congratulated them on their ingenuity and rued only my naïve packing mistake — who checks jewelry? On that last, long, sun-drenched day of my trip, the jewels that mattered most still flickered around me — the emerald glimmers of the sea and the orchards; the amber butterflies; the pearl and topaz gelati; the timeworn cameos of the paint-box houses — all the inexhaustible treasures of the Cinque Terre.

As I left the next morning, I already yearned to return. I knew I would come back to Liguria again, and when I did, it would be with a carry-on.


36 Hours in the Cinque Terre, Italy



4 p.m.

Before you start connecting your Cinque Terre dots, bouncing from one village to the next, take a 15-minute uphill trek through gorgeous vineyards, to the Santuario della Madonna di Montenero (entrance is a five-minute drive west of Due Gemelli, a hotel at Via Litoranea, 1; 39-0187-920-111). The storybook journey, replete with fragrant wildflowers and colorful butterflies, is topped with uninterrupted views that allow visitors to size up the region's entire 11-mile coastline from 1,100 feet above sea level. The sanctuary, an active church with a pink and yellow bell tower, is a spectacular example of the 14th-century buildings that put these small towns on the map.

5:30 p.m.

Drive down to Riomaggiore proper, park your car and head downhill to explore its marina. Then double back to the main drag and look for signs pointing to the village's biggest attraction: the Via dell'Amore, the first segment of the Sentiero Azzurro or the Blue Trail — a five-hour and somewhat challenging hiking trail that connects all five hamlets (5 euros for a daily pass). Connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola, this patch is just a leisurely stroll, offering a relatively flat coastal path that was carved into the mountain almost a century ago. The inspiring views and romantic nooks have earned it the nickname, the Path of Love. What will you really love? It's super easy.

7 p.m.

The tiny town of Manarola is a sight to behold: a confection of pastel houses that climb up the side of black cliff, next to the region's most productive vineyards. This small area is known for not one, but two specialty wines: Cinque Terre white, a dry, tangy blend of three different grapes, and sciacchetrà, a super-sweet late-harvest dessert wine generally reserved for special occasions. To create your own special occasion, grab a table at the lovely Marina Piccola (Via Lo Scalo, 16; 39-0187-920-923), next to the waterside hotel of the same name. Ask to sample a Manarola Cinque Terre and then compare it to one that's made from grapes blended from all five villages (8 to 12 euros for a half-bottle). While you're at it, order the Cinque Terre sciacchetrà, too.

8:30 p.m.

For a taste of a home cooking, head to Trattoria dal Billy (Via Rollandi, 122; 39-0187-920-628), a quaint three-story restaurant tucked into Manarola's lush mountainside. An enchanting climb through the village's mazelike alleyways leads to a set of garden terraces where you can sample local specialties like anchovies with salt or lemon, and taglierini with tomato, pecorino, pine nuts, baby shrimp, pepper and olive oil (both 8 euros). Sweeping vineyard and sea views abound.


10 a.m.

With three towns to hit in one day, take the quick regional train via the Spezia line (, 1 euro) to Corniglia, the smallest and most remote of the five villages. Forgo the 365-step climb to its tourist-filled center. Instead take the road much less traveled, to the clothing-optional private beach, Guvano, that only locals seem to know about. It's not easy to find: above and to the right of the train platform head down a narrow flight of stairs, follow a brick coastal wall and turn right, until you come to an industrial tunnel with a metal gate. Ring the bell to the left. Someone on the other end will buzz you in. Walk through the 10-minute-long path to a private vineyard overlooking two phenomenal beaches. Pay the gatekeeper 5 euros for your little slice of sunbathing heaven. Be sure to stock up on water and snacks at the train station; there are no concession shacks at the beach.

1:30 p.m.

Vernazza, the next village over, could certainly nab Miss Congeniality in a Cinque Terre pageant. Everything from its historical attractions and manageable size to its somewhat chic vibe make this port arguably the most agreeable of the five towns. From the train station, walk along Via Visconti, the town's bustling main street, until you reach its adorable main square. Have a leisurely lunch at Trattoria Gianni Franzi (Piazza G. Marconi, 1; 39-0187-821-003), a 45-year-old institution that still serves scrumptious dishes like ravioli with fish sauce (13 euros) or baked fish with potatoes (20 euros). Finish things off with a glass of limoncino (3.50 euros), Northern Italy's answer to limoncello, the lemon liqueur popular in the south.

3 p.m.

With a full belly and a slight buzz, you'll want to check out these sights in the following order: Santa Margherita d'Antiocha, a 1318 church built on sea rock with an odd facade that seems to turn its back on the piazza; the lookout towers of the 11th-century Castello Doria (1.50 euros) where you'll be rewarded with magnificent aerial views of the entire region; and La Cantina del Molo (Via Visconti, 27; 39-0187-812-302), a high-end enoteca that sells the most divine delicacies, along with wines from the owner's vineyards.

5:50 p.m.

You've been stealing glimpses of the Mediterranean Sea since you've arrived; now it's time to seize it. Board the last ferry (; 3.50 euros) to the westernmost and largest village, Monterosso al Mare (or Monterosso by the Sea), which, as its name suggests, is the sandiest and most resortlike of them all. Upon disembarking, hang a left toward Fegina beach and join the locals enjoying sunset aperitivos after a day in the sun. Top-notch wines and terrific bruschettas (6 euros), as well as fantastic promenade people watching, can be had at the outdoor wine bar and shop Enoteca 5 Terre di Sassarini Giancarlo (Via Fegina, 94; 39-0187-818-063).

8:30 p.m.

Traditional Ligurian cuisine, while entirely delectable, can also get repetitive. For something regional yet refreshing, head to L'Ancora della Tortuga (Salita Cappuccini, 6; 39-0187-800-065), a new spot housed in a converted bunker that was used during World War II. The contemporary kitchen specializes in fish dishes, including a seafood carpaccio with country vegetables (11 euros) and the daily catch served on grapevine leaves (12 euros). Be sure to reserve one of three tables that overlook the sea, or a spot on the upstairs terrace.

10:30 p.m.

You didn't come to the Cinque Terre to party, but if you're looking to keep the torch burning in Monterosso al Mare, you might be in luck. During the warmer months, day trippers and locals alike will stage beach parties along the Via Fegina. All are welcome. Or mix with the congenial crowds at one of the mellow, pub-style bars on Via Roma in the historical district.


8:30 a.m.

The sweet and savory goodness at Il Frantoio (Via Goberti, 1; 39-0187-818-333) should be enough of a reason to get you up before your alarm clock rings. Bring your euro coins to this unassuming alleyway shop and make a breakfast of its unique dolci castagnina — warm circular pastries baked with chestnuts, salt, milk, pine nuts and raisins (1.60 euros each). Be sure, too, to grab a selection of the superior focacce to go (1.50 euros a square). The varieties are endless, and they'll make for the perfect lunch at the beach later on.

11 a.m.

Soak up the town's biggest selling point: it's Riviera-ness! Not far from the entrance up to Convento dei Cappuccini monastery, you'll find the Bagni Eden beach club (Via Fegina, 7-11; 39-0187-818-256), a postcardlike world of colorful chaise longues (with matching umbrellas), turquoise water and bronzed beauties playing Kadima paddle ball. For 16 euros you get the chaise longue, umbrella and use of the changing cabin. Pellegrino, focaccia and salty air never tasted so jet set, especially after all that hiking.


While there are no regularly scheduled direct flights between Genoa and the United States, Delta Air Lines offers direct service between Kennedy Airport in New York and Pisa. It may be easier to fly to Milan's Malpensa airport and then drive three hours to reach the Cinque Terre.

Leave your car at the Autosilos garage, at the tip of Riomaggiore, and retrieve it at the end of your trip (40 euros for two days). Driving is not permitted within the villages. Shuttle around by foot, by train (one-day pass for 5 euros) or by ferry (except to and from the port-less Corniglia).

Lodging is scarce in Manarola, so book early to snag one of the 10 rooms at Ca' d'Andrean (Via Discovolo, 101; 39-0187-920-040;, a charming hotel converted from an old oil press and wine cellar. The lemon-tree garden and cozy fireplace lounge are nice bonuses. Doubles start at 92 euros.

Expect a wider range of hotels in Monterosso al Mare. Avoid the well-worn warhorses and opt for the sharp new Hotel Margherita (Via Roma, 72; 39-0187-808-002,, the closest thing to a boutique hotel in the area. The 25 rooms have plasma-screen TVs, cosmopolitan mini-bars and luxurious bathrooms. Rates begin at 90 euros.

There are few ATMs and many places don't accept credit cards, so take cash.


Fava beans conquer Corniglia. And for many tourists was the first time ...

Cinque Terre - Riviera di Levante - The first festival of the bean Corniglia is a success. In the village of the middle of the five lands by the Cultural Association "United for Corniglia", nine young local producers have poured in carruggio more than 180 kilograms of pods accompanied by cold cuts and cheeses hinterland of La Spezia, with homemade bread and wine of Corniglia.

And the snack Cornigliese was appreciated by hundreds of tourists who passed through on Saturday afternoon in the narrow streets of the village. For many foreign tourists was the first time I have come to know the fava beans and they all got to taste this fruit of the earth combining it with cold cuts and cheese. The party atmosphere created has involved all participants joyfully making them feel the warmth of locally. The offerings made will be used to purchase a weather station that will be installed in the square Largo Taragio.

Next appointment for party "cornigliesi" is fixed for the feast of "Saint Peter" patron saint of the country where they will offer the famous cake of the Fieschi.


Cinque Terre - Riviera di Levante - First sunbathing

First sunbathing in the Cinque Terre and the Levant with reservations that start coming in now after a first half of April on the sly. And 'This is the air you breathe in the coasts of the Riviera of La Spezia, Cinque Terre included.
Last season, no doubt, was affected drastically by the bad weather that hit on many weekends, but the lifeline remain foreign guests arriving on the Ligurian coast thanks to trips booked well in advance.

The journey of CDS, the discovery of the tourist season to come, continue tapping the towns of Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Levanto, Bonassola and Deiva Marina.
The view of the tourist season in costs does not stray far from what reported in the previous episode, in which CDS analyzed the flow of tourists in the provincial capital, Lerici and Porto Venere. After a difficult beginning of April, with declines of nearly 30 percent, the tourists begin to arrive.
Are European tourists, that at this time, save the season and nationalities are more loyal the French, Swiss and German. This time of year is in high demand the use of trails but, with the Way of Love shut, are forced to deal with different areas and demanding trails.
Of Italians if they see a few around because, as usual, is the summer season favorite by his countrymen to enjoy the area of ​​La Spezia.

From Riomaggiore, Stefania Hotel Zorza explains: "April is decidedly understated and started with the bridges work better. For the month of May we have already booked some weekend, and our guests are mostly foreigners. By the Way of Love closed propose to guests of alternative paths, but are much more challenging. "

Simona Hotel Gianni Vernazza explains: "The difference is noticeable, especially at the beginning of the month in May, although we are confident that things will improve given the reservations. Our guests, as always in this period are mainly foreigners, Italians expect in the coming months. "

A Levanto, the season began with a few weeks in advance. This is confirmed by the operators at the Hotel Carla: "I ask a lot of tourists visit the Cinque Terre and Levanto use 'as a basis' for the closeness and comfort. Visitors are mainly from Europe, even if you begin to get some American couple. Bad weather, however, has strongly penalized the season. With the problems on the trails of the Cinque Terre offer guests tours are always different even with the opportunity to visit the Tigullio. Since the beginning of April to the first group are now arriving and some new arrival, which we expect to May. "

A Bonassola some structures have just opened, others open only on weekends. The season here proceeds at a rate slower than the other villages and the first group are expected after April 20.

Finally, from Deiva Marina, Giulia Hotel Clelia is confident that things will improve from 25 April. "April is started quietly and tourists - mainly Swiss and French - ask to visit the trails. In May, the situation should improve, even if the conditions of the trails in the Cinque Terre create problems. This still remains the favorite season by foreigners. "


Basil and Genoa

You may have known Genoa primarily for its salami or its brash explorer, but the city's most direct effect on your life away from Italy may be through its cultivation of one of the world's best pasta sauces. The sublime blend of basil, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and grated pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses that forms pesto alla Genovese is one of Italy's crowning culinary achievements, a concoction that Italian food guru Marcella Hazan has called "the most seductive of all sauces for pasta." Ligurian pesto is served only over spaghetti, gnocchi, lasagna, or—most authentically—trenette(a flat, spaghetti-like pasta) or trofie(short, doughy pasta twists), and then typically mixed with boiled potatoes and green beans. Pesto is also occasionally used to flavor minestrone. The small-leaf basil grown in the region's sunny seaside hills is considered by many to be the best in the world, and pesto sauce was invented primarily as a showcase for that singular flavor. The simplicity and rawness of pesto is one of its virtues, as cooking (or even heating) basil ruins its delicate flavor. In fact, pesto aficionados refuse even to subject the basil leaves to an electric blender; Genovese (and other) foodies insist that true pesto can be made only with mortar and pestle.


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