|Fisherman at Dusk|
If I had to choose my favorite region in Italy, it would have to be Liguria. This tiny coastal region stretches from the French border to the Eastern side where it borders Tuscany.
Some of the highlights of this coastal region are Genoa, the capitol, Portofino where the rich and famous love to play, Santa Marguerita, just as beautiful as Portofino but more down to earth and the extremely charming and old-worldly Cinque Terre.
I spent most of my time in The Cinque Terre, italian for "five lands". Made famous by the European travel guru, Rick Steves, this tiny grouping of towns is starting to become more and more populated with tourists, though with a limited numbers of rooms and not really much room to grow, hopefully it will forever stay the way it is.
The five towns are Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarolo, and Riomaggiore. They are connected by hiking trails, train and boats. You will only see a few cars, which are used to service the area's businesses. Outside vehicles are not allowed into the towns.
The larger hotels are all located in Monterosso and that is also where you will find the most restaurants and the beach for lounging and activities. The rest of the towns offer accommodations in private homes, small inns and bed and breakfasts. I stayed both times in Vernazza, first at the top of the hill, which was quiet and away from the crowds. I was entertained at night by the gentle sound of a creek outside my window. The second trip, I was closer to the harbor, which is also where the restaurants are situated. This time I was entertained by the sound of waves and singing locals.
The Ligurian Coast is the birthplace of pesto. I was very surprised to find that they add cut up potato to the pasta dish, which I have never seen at home in the US. Other local delicacies are the anchovies and seafood in general. One particularly memorable meal was at Al Castello. Our appetizer was anchovies prepared four different ways. They were surprisingly delicious and unlike anything I'd ever tasted.
Photos of Cinque Terre:
Photos of Santa Marguerita: