This weekend in Liguria will stay in my travel memory box as one of my worst trips ever. This Italian region has a truly magical appeal, but visiting it over the Easter weekend definitely was not a good idea….
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A Weekend in Liguria
Liguria – a charming region in north-western Italy, world-famous for its colorful Cinque Terre, glamorous Portofino, lofty mountains, and stretching towards France’s Mediterranean coastline.
As one of the sunniest places in the whole country, the Italian Riviera might seem like a perfect vacation choice all year round. But before you pack up your bags – here come the pitfalls… my weekend in Liguria was far from perfect!
Liguria during the Easter weekend
This post was supposed to start with the words I´m just back from an epic Easter weekend at the Italian Riviera. However, it took me a month to wrap it up. We all can talk forever about our favorite travel moments or romantic experiences around the world, but no one likes to go back and savor the details of the trip that did not go as well…
For Easter Weekend 2017, together with my husband, I decided to spend a long weekend in Liguria. Which has been one of my dream destinations for so long.
The trip took place around the Easter holidays. The region was flooded with tourists and locals.
We all know traveling somewhere around the holidays dates might be stressful: cause basically everyone gets days off. My husband has a 9 to 5 job. So, most of our recent trips took place over the holidays – Malta, Lucerne, Cologne… All of these were touristy, but, nothing like the Italian Riviera. Liguria was a beautiful nightmare…
It would be fair to mention that all of my other trips to Italy, Tuscany, Savona, and Lake Como, were amazing. So, maybe, I was simply not ready for what was going to happen during this weekend in Liguria. When friends ask me about this trip – I honestly feel confused about the answer… How could you possibly describe somewhere that wonderful and chaotic? – Yes, Cinque Terre was picture perfect, but during this weekend in Liguria, I couldn´t help the feeling I was taking part in the Hunger Games.
Let me specify this even more: it´s not only about the number of tourists. It´s rather about the way all these tourist sites are organized. My last Easter holidays took me to the French Riviera and, of course, it was crowded and overpriced, yet we haven´t had problems with moving around. But Liguria was different…
Our initial plan for the Italian Riviera was to stay in a small city called Millesimo, rent a car, and visit Genova, Portofino & Cinque Terre, and a bunch of small towns on the way from Genova to San Remo. In the end, we managed to see less than half of everything we´d planned. So, when I´m fully recovered after this epic failure trip – we´ll definitely need to go back to Liguria one day.
Welcome to Portofino
You know from my Spanish road trips, that I generally prefer traveling by car. It´s the best way to cover more places on the road. But this time in Liguria it felt like a mission-impossible task. We used the autobahn all the time and paid a fortune at the tolls, yet road access to every more or less touristy city greeted us with a huge traffic jam. I don´t even want to mention parking difficulties at this point.
But the biggest traffic jam of our Liguria weekend caught us on the road to the glamorous Portofino.
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 ( 2 hours) traffic jam.
But it was not the funniest part of the story: 300 m before the arrival at Portofino´s Parking there was a police car blocking access and making everyone turn around (since the parking was full). I mean, if you officially block access to the city, maybe, letting people know before waiting for 2 hours is not a bad idea?
In the picture above you can see only the small part of it. At some point, I felt like we were never getting out [lol], and there was no space to turn around till the mentioned police post.
We were forced to turn back 300 meters before the Portofino and did not get the chance to visit the most famous place on the Ligurian coast.
The Cinque Terre Train
The must-stop number two for this weekend in Liguria was Cinque Terre.
Before the trip, I read about the train connecting all of the 5 cities of Cinque Terre and the complexity of parking in the area. So, we directly headed to La Spezia. But all the parkings there were full.
We waited for 1 hour till we could leave the car. But when I thought we were out of this driving madness and parking dilemmas, it was time to get off the Cinque Terre Express train in Manarola… and there it was – the rock bottom of our Liguria weekend!
The train station collapsed, it was worse than a metro in Hong Kong during the rush hour. The whole station and the line of tourists exiting it seemed not to move in any direction. Apparently, there was only one small tunnel connecting Manarola station and the city. It was so overcrowded that we needed at least 40 minutes to get out into the city. If you do not have agoraphobia or claustrophobia yet – that´s the secret location to develop it over your Liguria weekend.
The next 2 hours in Manarola we spent thinking of all the possible ways we could avoid taking this train ever again.
Ironically, there was nowhere to run. The Manarola boat service was officially closed due to the weather conditions – even though I clearly saw some small boats bringing tourists, none were leaving from Manarola.
Doomed to return to the train, we decided to visit Vernazza, before getting back to the car. The day was already lost anyway.
By and large, in one day, we managed to visit only 2 cities of the Cinque Terre – Manarola and Vernazza. And it all felt like climbing the Everest.
At this point, writing about the 3rd day of our weekend in Liguria feels strange.
We spent a day exploring Genoa, Boccadasse, and the small town of Cervo. But my mind was already rolling around spending a few days on the beach of Benicassim with a new wanderlust book. I felt desperately in need of another vacation after this weekend in Liguria.
Even the famous Genoa, the birthplace of Columbus, could not make up for the rest of our frustrating weekend in Liguria. Somehow I enjoyed the city even more when it was a brief stop during our Mediterranean Cruise than I did this time.
Where to stay in Liguria
At the same time, the most comfortable part of our weekend in Liguria was the place we stayed in. We were lucky to book the B&B Rose Garden. It was literally the only positive memory about this weekend in Liguria.
I don´t even know where to start: the loveliest and friendliest hosts ever, who cooked the most delicious homemade breakfast only for the two of us. Every morning I woke up to the birds singing… The rental location was good for visiting 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 – a 2h 30 minute of driving one way. We woke up at 7 a.m. to get to Cinque Terre (if only I knew what we were getting into that morning).
A gourmet feast during a weekend in Liguria
A gourmet tour is a must of all my trips, this weekend in Liguria was not an exception.
Even though every pizza, pasta, or gelato we tried was good – most of the restaurants at the Italian Riviera were overpriced, overcrowded, and had very slow service. While let me say it again – the food was always good.
Gelato 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 Rose Garden, we entered the first restaurant we saw in the city center of the small village of Millesimo – Pantarei Cucina. To my surprise, it turned out to be one of the most local and delicious places we discovered during a weekend in Liguria.
The two of us were the only tourists dining inside – the rest were locals.
Pasta al Pesto Genovese
Photogallery of My Weekend in Liguria
Let´s not focus on the views, since my feelings about this weekend in Liguria are pretty clear by now. I really try to go through the pictures more often to remind myself how beautiful was Liguria despite it all…
Once in a Lifetime
A weekend in Liguria is absolutely one of those once-in-a-lifetime travel ideas.
Yet, my experience was far from magical. Hard to forget, for sure. Once I recover from this trip, I’d love to plan another weekend in Liguria in the off-season to explore the region fully. But the nearest few years might be Italy-free on the blog
And what about you? Have you ever been to Liguria?
- Accommodation: For short stays, I usually book via Agoda, Booking, and Hotellook
- Tours&excursions: My favorites for guided tours are GetYourGuide and Viator
- City breaks&sightseeing: Go City helps to avoid multiple entry fees and paper tickets
- Travel Insurance: find the best trip insurance plans via VisitorsCoverage, EKTA, and Insubuy
- Flights: To find the best deals I like WayAway and Aviasales
- Airport Lounge: Get independent airport lounge access worldwide via Priority Pass
- Train&bus tickets: Currently, I book via RailEurope, Omio, and Busbud
- Car rental: To find the best deals I use Rental Cars, Discover Cars, and GetRentalCar
- Transfers: For individual transfer services I like Kiwitaxi
- For Foodies: Eatwith is great for finding culinary experiences with locals
- Cruise Reviews: To find the best cruise offer I check out Cruise Critic
- Suitcases&Luggage: To eliminate problems of early arrivals/late departures I find helpful Radical Storage
- Compensation for delayed/canceled flights: AirHelp is useful for all flight cancellation or delay claims
- To avoid roaming fees I use Airalo eSIMs around the world
- Budget-friendly stays: Check Hostelworld to find the best deals around the world
- Events: To find the best offers I use Ticketmaster and TicketNetwork
- Renting Bikes: to find motorcycles, scooters, quads, and bicycles I use BikesBooking
- Package Tours: head to CheapOair, Expedia UK, Tourhub, and loveholidays
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