monterosso

Gulf of Poets travel ideas

Gulf of Poets travel ideas, written with love by Cecilia

When one speaks of Liguria, the Gulf of Poets and its iconic Cinque Terre come to mind.

We are in the province of La Spezia and many famous poets and artists, like Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Eugenio Montale called this place home for some time, hence its name “Golfo dei Poeti”.

The gulf encompasses in a single term the municipalities and some of the most photographed places in Italy: Portovenere, The 5 Terre, Lerici, and many other small villages.

In this article, I will provide travel suggestions and useful tips to visit Portovenere, Lerici and Cinque Terre.

PORTOVENERE

Portovenere is a characteristic village, especially from an artistic, architectural and historical point of view. The Byron Cave and the Church of San Pietro, are two of the most famous and popular destinations for tourists.  I recommend admiring these two places from above. In fact,  you just need to climb the stairs that you will meet on your way inside the carrugio (narrow lane) to enjoy a breathtaking view.
How about aperitif with a view? Then “Bar Doria” is your go-to place for Spritz accompanied and simple but always captivating stuzzichini (finger food). In fact, the terrace is right on the sea and, in my opinion, it is the best place to watch the sunset.
Finally, you can enjoy dinner in some of the most famous restaurants in the area, such as the “Iseo” and “Le Tre Torri” restaurants.

HOW TO GET THERE

The municipality of Portovenere only has pay car parks, which are often full during the high season. Therefore I recommend getting to the village by bus or ferry.

Gulf of Poets travel ideas Portovenere

LERICI

The municipality of Lerici boasts a remarkable number of small villages, such as Serra and Montemarcello, and beaches and lidos for a wide range of travel styles and budgets.
Make sure you climb to the two castles at the head of the promenade San Terenzo’s and Lerici’s Castle and enjoy the amazing view.
During the winter days, you will run into teams training for our famous rowing Palio. In fact, on the first Sunday of August, the villages’ teams compete to win the infamous banner.

When you visit a seaside town in this area, you should not limit yourself to the centre, but discover the little pearls that lie within. In fact, I recommend you go further afield and savour the small villages, such as La Serra, that delight us with unique sunsets.

For lunch or dinner, I recommend  “Il Frantoio” (in the centre of Lerici) or the “Pin Bon” famous for its panorama.

HOW TO GET THERE 

In the summer period, the ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato – No Access Zone)  is activated, therefore you can only access the beaches by shuttle bus or via a long walk, which I do not recommend. However, in winter it is not difficult to find parking both on the seafront and in the private area near the Venere Azzurra.

Gulf of Poets travel ideas Lerici

THE 5 TERRE

Gulf of Poets travel ideas for Cinque Terre really depend on your preferences.

Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso are part of the Cinque Terre. Fame precedes them and there is no need to say how unique it is to visit them at least once in a lifetime. Each of them is distinguished from the others by an element: Riomaggiore for the peace, Manarola in particular for the restaurants, Corniglia for the promontory, Vernazza for the paths and, finally, Monterosso for the beaches. At the same time, they all have in common the splendour of the colours of the houses and their unbelievable location!

HOW TO GET THERE

Enjoy a smooth trip and get there by sea, with boats or ferries (departing from the centre of La Spezia). Furthermore, you can travel by train. Access by car is difficult and stressful even for locals.

RIOMAGGIORE

Riomaggiore is the first of the 5 Terre, here are 3 possible ways to take it all in:
– for the sporty traveller hiking, canoeing, scuba diving  and mountain biking;
– a more artistic perspective: discover of the village, the castle, the church of San Lorenzo, the Guardiola tower… and much more;
– a visit purely for pleasure: relaxing on the seashore and indulging in sciacchetrà wine tastings or candlelit dinners above the sea at the “Dau Cila” restaurant

Gulf of Poets travel ideas Riomaggiore

MANAROLA

The village of Manarola offers many restaurants and bars, with breathtaking sunset views. For instance, I recommend the  famous “Nessun Dorma” and “La
Regina di Manarola”, recently opened. In addition to these two vantage points, you can also decide to admire the village from Punta Bonfiglio, an area that
connects the Marina with the Scalo di Palaedo. From Manarola, you can also walk to the nearby villages of Riomaggiore and Corniglia and their respective beaches.

Manarola

CORNIGLIA

Corniglia is the only one of the 5 Terre to be located 90 metres above the sea, surrounded by vineyards and nature, as opposed to the others which are directly on the sea. This village is recommended for those who like to immerse themselves among the trees and smell the scents of the earth.  Just keep in mind that the climb up to the centre of the village is quite demanding although very suggestive. On arrival, you can visit the church of San Pietro, the terrace of Santa Maria and the oratory of Santa Caterina. If, on the other hand, you want to go to the sea, the only way is down numerous steps to the pebble beach. Consider that there is a naturist beach on the border with Manarola… as the scene might not be your cup of tea ;).

My favourite joints in Corniglia are the restaurant “A Cantina de Mananan”, where you will be pampered by the owners and the “Bar Pan e Vin” for after-dinner drinks.

corniglia

VERNAZZA

If you love walking and street food, in this order, then Vernazza is your place. In fact, you can choose between two trails, Monterosso and Corniglia respectively. The
first one, Vernazza-Monterosso, is almost 4 km long and is very difficult. It is recommended for experienced hikers only. The Vernazza-Corniglia path is easier and shorter (around 3km).

As for street food, I recommend “Il Gattaccio” which offers delicacies such as focaccia with mussles , or “La Bottega del fritto”. If you prefer the classic table service, I suggest “La Torre”, a super strategic and romantic spot.

Vernazza

MONTEROSSO

Monterosso is the most suitable place for those with children to relax, refresh themselves and enjoy typical Ligurian dishes. The beaches of Monterosso are the most characteristic, white stretches of sand that are easy to reach compared to the cliffs of the other 5 Terre. Most of the beaches have equipment and a lifeguard, giving those with children the chance to enjoy the day in the sun.
In addition to the sea, there is also the opportunity to visit the village and discover small pearls of culture: the statue of the giant, Eugenio Montale’s villa, the castle and the Aurora Tower.

Monterosso

I hope you enjoyed this article on Gulf of Poets travel ideas.

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