July 24, 2014

Places to see before you die: Cinque Terre & Portofino, the exception confirms the rule

Portofino, Italy
Everybody associates the word beach with the word south. And if we add the word Italy the link is even stronger: Sicily, Sardinia and the regions bathed by the Ionic sea... But, as always, there’s an exception that confirms the rule.
And the exception when talking about the Bel Paese is called Liguria. A real exception to every imaginary of the classic beach all around the world. In this region of northern Italy are settled two unique destinations: Portofino and the Cinque Terre.
When you travel here it’s nor for the beach (it’s a rocky coast), neither for the weather (frequent floods area). Yet these places are among the most frequented and renowned by international tourists in Italy, besides big yachts and luxurious villas’ owners.


Perhaps its tricky access is why Liguria’s most exclusive seaside resort has long been a hideaway for writers, including Guy de Maupassant and Truman Capote, and Hollywood luminaries, especially in its 1950s and ’60s heydays. Today the tiny Portofino is home to only about 500 permanent residents, but in summer it is all a different story, with the sun shining and the celebrities placing their yachts at the marina to enjoy the shore. The resort is almost wholly given over to designer boutiques, art galleries and ritzy cafĂ© terraces around the narrow streets, but there are also some beautiful walks fanning out into the protected green surrounds, the Parco Naturale Regionale di Portofino, scuba diving and hiking sites, and also some historic sites such as the Church of San Martino and the Brown Castle, a fortress hill.
Portofino, Italy

Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre are one of the most extraordinary corners of Italy, became a National Park in 1999. Wedged in the bitter mountainous areas of the Ligurian coast, these places are able to keep tabs on tourism and are connected to one another by a scenic trail that winds along the sides of the terraced hills, between vineyards and olive groves. The Cinque Terre are closed to cars. In Riomaggiore, overlooking a small creek, fishing boats rule and are proudly displayed not only on the coast but also in the small square.
Cinque Terre, Italy

The Way of Love connects Riomaggiore to Manarola, the most picturesque of Cinque Terre. Perched on top of a cliff at the end of a winding staircase, Corniglia is not for the faint of heart. Vernazza takes full advantage of its sea views, with a walk and a square right by the sea. Finally Monterosso is the only one to be equipped with a real beach and also has some great statues carved in the rocks above.

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