January 19th , 2010 → 8:32 pm @ admin

Cinque Terre

Riomaggiore-ItalyLe Cinque Terre, which means Five Lands, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, and comprises the five small coastal villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso located in the region of Liguria in the province of La Spezia. There is a train service that runs from one end of the Cinque Terre to the other that enables you to get on and off at whichever village you choose. Alternatively, there is a beautiful walking trail connecting each of the villages.

vernazza-cinque-terraAll the towns slope down to sea-level except for Corniglia, which is perched on top of a tall cliff. Four of the towns possess an old-world charm (from North-to-South: Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore) with narrow, crooked, often cobbled streets, lined with colorful old houses stacked haphazardly on top of each other. The northern-most town of Monterosso is a modern sea-side resort with a large sandy beach and lots of beach-side restaurants and cafes.

Lerici, Portovenere, and The Gulf of Poets

PortovenereThe Gulf of Poets is named for some of the world’s most celebrated poets who lived at some points in their lives in the area, namely, Lord Byron and Percy Bysse Shelley. Shelley lived in the village of San Terenzo and died in the Gulf when his boat was hit by a storm. Lord Byron swam from a small grotto at Portovenere, which has since been dedicated to him.

PortovenerreLerici, the largest of the many small villages scattered around the Gulf of Poets, sits across the bay from the breathtaking town of Portovenere. From Lerici you can walk to San Terenzo and there are hiking trails to small fishing villages such as Fiascherino, Tellaro, and Montemarcello. Lerici has a castle and a small old quarter. It also has a fabulous Saturday morning market, abundant good restaurants, and an open waterside boulevard where you can sunbathe, swim in the warm Mediterranean, or simply watch the world go by. Lerici can be reached by ferry from La Spezia, Portovenere, and Le Cinque Terre. Small ferries between the Gulf of Poets villages run mainly in summer. It’s a scenic drive around the peninsula between the Magra River and the sea, as well as up into the interior.

Portofino and the Golfo del Tiguillio

Further north of Cinque Terre is Portofino.  The greater portion of the promontory of Portofino, including the surrounding coastline and seabed, have been turned into a Natural Park, one fo the most important in the upper Tyrrhenian Sea.  The ancient fishing village of Portofino is stunningly located at the western tip of the Golfo del Tiguillio.  The Benedictine abbey of San Fruttoso is located in a small bay which also houses the celebrated “Christ of the Deep,” a statue resting on the seabed 15 metres below the surface.

The coastline between Moneglia and Levanto

The coastline between Moneglia and Levanto is a patchwork of unspoilt headlands and tiny inlets with crystal clear waters. The ancient, sea-faring villages of Moneglia, Deiva Marina, Framura, Bonassola, and especially Levanto are set among spectacular multicoloured rocks with architecture dating back to the Middle Ages, some even earlier.

The Versilia coastline

Along the Versilia coastline are the celebrated beaches surrounded by fragrant pinewoods of Marina di Carrara, Marina di Massa, Forte dei Marmi, and Viareggio.  These popular summer resorts boast numerous smart hotels and many lovely private homes and historical buildings.  In the background, the awesome Apuan Alps (that you see from Casa Lucia) stand majestic against the skyline, the ancient marble quarries glittering white in the sunshine.

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