Northern Italy – Part II: Blissful Liguria

Day 3 Pompeiana


I may have been counting the days until this trip. I may have been counting them several times a day only to be disappointed when I got the same result, so when the day finally came I was over the moon.

We continued our drive from Torino to Pompeiana. This time around we didn’t take a guess in going for the A-roads but rather jumped directly onto the highway. Well that, and a 3 hour difference between the two routes. To our surprise, the motorway is scenic with roads taking you from tunnel to viaduct to tunnel again. It’s about a 3 hours drive and would set you back around 15 euros. They don’t seem to have too many speed cameras or if they do, they are very lenient. We were doing *cough* 130 km/h, which is the motorway limit, and everybody was overtaking us.

Pompeiana took us by surprise with its picturesque views and authentic atmosphere.

pompeiana-views.jpg

We knew the accommodation was nice but it was beyond our expectations. We parked the car a 5 minute walk away (and guess who had to go and get the car every morning), got our trolleys and excitedly walked to discover our new home for the next couple of nights.

pompeiana-roads

Nestled on top of a quiet hill, there was a winding narrow cobbled street leading to the hidden entrance.

popeiana-house.jpg

The house was laid out on several floors with an incredible terrace at the top.

pompeiana-view

After making ourselves more presentable, we walked down to the village restaurant, Trattoria La Piazza, where everyone seemed to know each other and we were greeted with a few curious but friendly looks.

As the sun set, we dined on pasta (the local speciality of trofie al pesto for me), refreshing house white wine and of course finished everything with the obligatory tiramisu and panna cotta!


Day 4: Riva Ligure & Sanremo


The next morning we went down to the beach to Riva Ligure. I hadn’t heard of it before but it was the closest beach to us and it instantly charmed us with its colourful houses (this one’s taken in the car park)…

riva-ligure-parking.jpg

…gorgeous views and fine sand beaches.

 Riva-ligure-beach

Tip: bring an empty bottle with you as they have cold fresh water dispensers for just a few euro cents.

When the heat became unbearable we made our way to Sanremo. And good luck trying to find a parking space there – it took us about 25 minutes to find one.

We stopped for lunch at Camelot where we met the friendliest staff who offered us delicious aperitifs, deserts and Limoncello and Amari for free. The food was plentiful and delicious and definitely on the affordable side of Sanremo restaurant prices.

Fresh Caprese salad, pasta al pomodoro and salt and pepper seafood platter

With our bellies full we wobbled around Sanremo before going back to the beach for a well deserved after lunch nap.

Day 5: Rapallo & Portofino

On our fifth day we woke up bittersweet knowing that we have to leave our lovely accommodation yet excited about visiting Portofino and Cinque Terre! 

As it is usually the case with the Ligurian coast, the scenic route from Imperia to Rapallo is a combination of sea coast roads, viaducts and tunnels. Once we reached our destination, we checked in and went straight to the swimming pool to cool down. We were surprised that on such a hot day the pool was deserted. About two hours later we found out from a grumpy lady that the swimming pool is closed on Wednesdays because of reasons. Later that day we took a 20 minute bus to Portofino (tickets are 5 euros return from news or Tabacchi shops) and my god, those Italians can drive! The winding road was hugged by steep mountains on one side and the Adriatic Sea on the other, leaving little room for the actual road or any mistakes.

Once in Portofino we lazily strolled around as the sun was setting… 

portofino.jpg

…taking in the magic and dreaming about being able to actually afford a holiday here (a gelato was 8 euros!)

portofino-views.jpg

When the sun sets, Portofino gets a sparkly makeover..

Portofino-night


Day 5: Vernazza & Monterosso al Mare

Whilst waiting for our train, we had a delicious and very affordable breakfast in Rapallo at Panificio Pasticceria Tossini 2 close to the train station so there’s no excuse not to check it out!

italian-coffee.jpg

There were also some focaccias on their way – I wholeheartedly recommend the onion one, it’s mouthwatering!

We then took a 50 min train to Vernazza (we paid around 8 euros each for ours and it was one of the cheapest journeys but you can check train times and prices here). You can also take a ferry and enjoy the views.

The minute I got off the train, the magic of it just hit me – so did a tourist who was also rushing to get to the Instagram worthy views.

Vernazza-train-station.jpg


Vernazza is one of the smallest villages I’ve ever been to. A 3 min walk from the train station and you’re smack in the middle of it.

Vernazza-port

We then made our way up between the colourful houses, through steep and narrow stairs and up the hill to the check-point for the hike trail to Monterosso. There’s a few different hikes you can do, more information on duration and difficulty here.

Vernazza-trek
After we bought our tickets (15 euros for 2 people as it’s an Unesco world heritage site) we realised it was noon and the sun was absolutely burning so we turned back down to the city. We took a VIP spot on one of the rocks and cooled off in the sea.

We may have had gelato but I’m sure there’s an unwritten rule that you have to try at least one in every city you visit in Italy – right?

cinque-terre-gelato.jpg

A few hours, we finally went on our hike. It took us around 2 hours and the views are worth the effort. I have to say that it wasn’t a difficult hike, and I am not a sporty person and can count the number of times I went on a hike on one hand, but the sun can make it uncomfortable. There’s stairs at times and you go up and down on the edge of the hills so might not be the one for you if you struggle with heights.

Vernazza-cinque-terre


The views are simply mesmerising and you feel you are in your own corner of paradise.

Vernazza-footpath

The sea glistens on your left from time to time encouraging you to keep going to see it again.

Cinque-terre-trek

When we got to the end of the trek in Monterosso al Mare we jumped in the sea for a quick swim at sunset.

With water still dripping off of our swimsuits, we went in search for food. We were absolutely famished but decided to queue for a table at Gastronomia San Martino as we heard the food was great and prices low (ok maybe I was the fussy one and took the decision and everyone else was too nice to say anything – but I promise you it’s worth the wait).

Stuffed mussels in tomato sauce, marinated fish with spinach on the side and something I’ve been meaning to try ever since we stepped foot in Liguria – Ravioli alle Noci – spinach and ricotta ravioli in rich, indulgent walnut sauce.  

We then jumped on the train back to Rapallo and went to for some Aperols to unwind before our last adventure, beautiful Florence.

 

Love,
2W

 

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