It´s been a long time with no new blog posts coming out. And if it wouldn´t be for all the messages I received via my social media channels from you, my dear readers, it´d probably be even longer…
The truth is that there are a lot of personal and professional changes going on in my life right now, so unfortunately, this summer I´m not able to update my blog as much as I´ve used to. However, I´ll soon make a very personal post to share all the details with you. Thanks again for all your messages. I´m doing great and I´d like to assure you that there are more exciting trips and surprising stories yet to come, so stay tuned.
An Italian Vacation: A Beautiful Nightmare in Liguria
This post was supposed to start with words “I´m just back from my Easter weekend at the Italian Riviera.” However, it´s already been 3 months since that last draft [lol]. So here´s a quick update – for the Easter Weekend 2017 I made a 4 day-long trip to Liguria.
We all know traveling somewhere around these dates might be stressful: cause basically everyone gets days-off and with many cheap flight options, Europeans lately fly to another country simply for a weekend (I´m one of these people, by the way – so no judging). No wonder I´m constanly on the road over the Easter. But this trip to the Ligurian coast has made me questioning Italy as a travel destination during holidays or vacations forever.
One thing I can tell you for sure, nothing in this world will make me visit Liguria again during any kind of European holidays. I´ve decided to share my story, so that you´d learn from my mistakes. Liguria for the Easter Weekend might be not a good idea.
When people ask me how was my trip, I don´t even know what to answer: a beautiful nightmare, I guess. How could you possibly describe somewhere that wonderful, and yet I couldn´t help the feeling I was taking part in Hunger Games. [lol] And let me explain, it´s not just a number of tourists – it´s the way all these touristic sites were organized. My last Easter holidays took me to the French Riviera and, of course, it was crowded and overpriced – and yet we haven´t had problems with moving around.
Our first plan for the Italian Riviera was to stay in a small city called Millesimo and visit Genova, Portofino & Cinque Terre, and a bunch of the cities on the way from Genova to San Remo. Needless to mention: we´ve managed to see less than a half of everything we´d planned. So, when I´m fully recovered after this epic failure trip [lol] – we´ll definitely going back to Liguria… one day…
Welcome to Portofino
I love traveling by car, so I could move independently and cover more places. It appears in Liguria (unless you´re traveling out of the season) it is almost a “mission impossible”. We used the autobahn all the time and an access to every more or less touristic city greeted us with a huge traffic jam. But Portofino was a peak of our vacation.
The line of cars on the left is the endless traffic jam
Once we took an exit from the autobahn E80 to Rapallo we were stuck in a huge 10km/2h traffic jam. But that was not the funniest thing – 300 m before the arrival there was a police car blocking an access to Portofino and making everyone turn around. My question is: How could a place that touristic have such a bad access and almost no parking at all. And if you block an access to the city, maybe, letting people know it before they´ve been waiting for 2h wouldn´t be a bad idea at all.
The Cinque Terre train
The must stop number two was Cinque Terre. And here I was informed about the train connecting all the 5 cities and the complexity of parking. So we directly headed to La Spezia and left a car there. Once we got off the 5 Terre express in Manarola, we saw a train station full of people (and not simply full, full like a metro in Hong Kong during the rush hour) – and the line to exit didn´t seem to move. As we found out later, there was only one small tunnel connecting Manarola station and the city and it was so overcrowded that it took us 40 min to get out into the city. Conclusion: if you don´t have the agoraphobia or claustrophobia yet – this is where you might develop it. The next 2h in Manarola I´ve spent thinking of all the possible ways we could avoid taking this train ever again. However, the Manarola boat service was officially closed due to the weather conditions – even though I´ve clearly seen some small boats bringing tourists to Manarola. In a complete day we´ve managed to visit only 2 cities – Manarola and Vernazza: we´d definitely manage to visit them all if it won´t be for the crowds and lines.
What a view
Don´t look down…
A small paradise of Millesimo
At the same time the most comfortable part of my Italian vacation was the place we stayed in. The greatest thing we could have possibly done is living somewhere far from the crowds in a very local rural area. I normally don´t mention the concrete hotels or guesthouses I´ve stayed in: this blog is more of a hobby of mine, so I don´t do reviews. However, when I honestly fall in love with a certain place – I feel that I simply must share it with my readers. So far it happened only with two places of my numerous international travels – and both were small and family owned. The first one was Yannis Retreat in Crete, and the second one I was lucky to find here, at the Ligurian Coast – B&B Rose Garden.
I don´t even know where to start: the loveliest and friendliest hosts ever, who cooked the most delicious/ home-made breakfast only for the two of us; the quiet rural scene, surrounded by green forests and mountains. Every morning I woke up to the birds singing… The location was good to visit Genoa and the part of Liguria from Genoa towards San Remo. However, if your main goal is Cinque Terre it might be a bit far away – 2h 30 min drive one way.
A cup of delicious Italian cappuccino
Only in Italy… Parmigiano Snacks
Homemade delicious pastries for breakfast
A gourmet feast
A gourmet tour is a must of all my trips, Liguria was not an exception. Even though every pizza, pasta or gelatto we tried were good – most of the restaurants at the Italian Riviera were overpriced, overcrowded and had a very slow service. While let me say it again – the food was always good.
Gelatto in Genoa
It´s hard to believe, but from all the places we´ve visited, the best one was found by a complete accident. In search of any restaurant close to our B&B, we entered the first place we saw in the city center of a small village of Millesimo – Pantarei Cucina. To my surprise it turned out to be one of the most local and delicious places we´e been to in Liguria. We were the only tourists there: now I can claim with all certainty: the very best thing that could happen to you in Italy – is dining where the locals eat.
Pasta al Pesto Genovese
My Ligurian Favorites #ontheroad
The streets of Genoa
Arco della Vittoria, Genoa
Passeggiata Anita Garibaldi, Genoa
Views from the hiking trail Manarola – Corniglia
By and large, Liguria is absolutely one of these “once in a lifetime” trips. It´s charming and unique, like a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life… I guess, after all these years of traveling I simply developed a passion for more undiscovered and less touristic places. Which might be hard to find in such a popular country as Italy…
And what about you? Have you ever been to Liguria? How did you like it?