Ligurian Riviera and Cinque Terre (Five Villages)

Lavagna — Portofino — Camogli — Santa Margherita — Levanto, Monterosso, Manarola.
(from Genova — La Spezia — Lavagna)

May €490/person
June €560/person
July €660/person
August €730/person
September €640/person

  • Skipper included + food
  • Insurance
  • Navigation Set included*
  • Dinghi included

*navigation set: icludes the kitchen and toilet equipment (soap, shower gel, paper, detergent, plastic bags, water).


Ligurian Riviera and Cinque Terre (Liguria — Italy)

The Italian or Ligurian Riviera has nearly 200 miles of coastline. It climbs from Ventimiglia in the west, sweeps around Genoa, and finishes just beyond Cinque Terre, five famously inaccessible villages with gravity-defying lemon orchards and kitchen gardens. Liguria is rich in natural reserves, the landscape bristling with palm trees, parasol pines, vineyards, olive groves. And it is home to one of Italy’s great regional cuisines.

Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for its particularly mild climate and relaxed way of life which, together with the charm of its old fishing ports and the beauty of its landscape, has made it a popular destination for travellers and tourists since the time of Byron and Shelley. We may stop for lunch in Vernazza: Trattoria Franzi, on the Piazza Marconi, has been serving typical Ligurian food for decades. Arrive at Porto Venere, a pretty jumble of multi-coloured houses, passing through ‘the narrows’ between the church and the rocks of Palmeria.

Many villages and towns in the area are internationally known, such as Portofino, Bordighera, Lerici and the Cinque Terre. The highest villages concentration is in the Levante, the glamorous eastern segment that begins with Genoa and includes Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Camogli, Rapallo, Lavagna up to Cinque terre.

The jewel of the Italian Riviera is the sumptuous fishing village of Portofino, east of Genoa. Amazingly little has changed from the Sixties when Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra were among those holidaying there. It sits on a rocky promontory, its cluster of ochre and pink buildings backed by hills clad in pines, palms, azaleas and cypresses. Filled with summer yachts and the odd fishing boat and fringed with cafes and restaurants, the harbour is the little hub of village life. But despite Portofino’s small size there are several other attractions.

The Italian Riviera is not short of rugged coastline or romantic towns and villages, but the five fishing communities of the Cinque Terre are its most iconic highlight. The five villages are no longer the isolated hamlets they once were, but there’s still a feeling of remote authenticity, with few roads, perfectly preserved architecture and a network of stunning coastal and mountain trails.

Riomaggiore — Easternmost Riomaggiore is the largest of all five villages and acts as the Cinque Terre’s unofficial capital. Peeling buildings line up down a steep ravine to a tiny harbor. Their pastel glow at sunset, best appreciated from the sea, is one of the Cinque Terre’s most romantic sights. A botanical garden and bird watching centre sits on a rocky promontoryup the hill from its pebbly beach.

Manarola — The grapevines that surround Manarola produce the Cinque Terre wine, Sciacchetrà. The bustling main street and waterfront promenade are still lined with fishing boats and other such reminders of everyday village life. Punta Bonfiglio, a short uphill hike, has fabulous views and a playground with a bar (or a bar with a playground, depending on your priorities).

Corniglia — Sitting atop a 100m-high rocky promontory surrounded by vineyards, Corniglia is the only village that lacks direct access to the sea, although steep steps wind from a rocky cove and its waterfront train station far below. Its tranquil, tangled streets lead to a broad and breezy sea-facing terrace, the only vantage point from where you can clock (and photograph) all five villages at once.

Vernazza — Vernazza’s small harbour — the Cinque Terre’s only secure landing place — has long been its raison d’etre, but it is Piazza Marconi with its sea-facing amphitheater of pastel houses that brings on the sighs. The village’s trademark caruggi (narrow lanes) rise almost vertically from here, a maze of stairs and tiny terraces, with big blue sea views popping at every turn.

Monterosso — Monterosso only rates as ‘swoon-worthy’ until you catch sight of the competition around the corner, but it’s the only village that has a proper strip of beach. Known for its lemon trees and plump anchovies served right off the boat, it’s the furthest west of the villages and the most easily accessible by car.

The cuisine in Liguria is exceptionally good, with a remit ranging from seafood to porcini and pasta. Local specialities include olive oil from Imperia, anchovies and dry white wine from Cinque Terre (the wine takes the same name), and perhaps best of all, pesto from Genoa. The Genoese devised this heavenly blend to prevent scurvy among sailors. Genoa is also renowned for its breads and pastries: focaccia, farinata (a pancake made with chickpea flour), pandolce cake with candied peel, raisons and nuts, and gobelletti biscuits with fig jam.