Cinque Terre & Portofino | Italy Summer 2016
First proper travel post! It's been almost half a year since this trip, but I never got around to posting the pictures. Long story short, I lost most of them in a terrible hard-drive-meets-stone-tiled-floor accident but managed to recover some from old memory cards. If you scroll all the way down you'll find the highlights video I made after this trip.
Last summer me and my boyfriend Jon flew to Italy for a quick 3-day trip to visit the beautiful Liguria region in Italy. We were based in Genoa and hired a car to drive ourselves around as we wanted to see Pisa, Portofino, Cinque Terre, and every little village and winding mountain road in between.
Our flight landed in the afternoon so we decided to spend the rest of the day on a little roadtrip to Pisa - it was a nice way to ease ourselves into the crazy heat and make the best of a half-day, and to be honest that was probably enough. We saw the leaning tower, wandered around, and had pizza on a shaded sidestreet somewhere in the heart of the town.
Ironically, we didn't see much of Genoa but we did feel a bit like the locals as we were rushing to catch a 7AM train the next morning to take us to Monterosso al Mare, the first of five villages in Cinque Terre national park. All of our friends who had been there before us recommended taking the train as there's very limited road access to Cinque Terre - the pastel coloured villages are set on the very edge of some stunning cliffs, with a railway running through. We ended up spending two whole days here (so two days in a row of waking up at 7am to catch that train, while on vacation... but it was SO worth it). If you do go there, make sure to spend one of the nights in one of the villages. We didn't have the chance to do it this time, but will make sure to stay here longer next time - I can only imagine what the coastline looks like at sunset.
I read that hiking is a must-do, so on the first day we decided to hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. Although the villages are only 3 kilometres apart, it took us about 3 hours to get to Vernazza - that seems like a lot for such a short distance but to be fair we did it at the peak of the heat with barely any shade to hide from the 12pm sunshine and the path leading us through ups & downs on the edges of the cliffs. And even through all the sweat pouring down my face the views were just stunning. As we approached Vernazza we could see the colourful pastel buildings from above and I wished we had more time (and energy.. and appropriate shoes!) to hike along the rest of the coastline.
On the second day we decided to do a boat tour. And let me tell you, it was so good that I try to find a boat tour everywhere I go now. Many people online were saying that the best way to see Cinque Terre in it's full glory is from the water, and I couldn't agree more. The hike was amazing too, but nothing beats the boat tour!!
So I did my research into the best companies for this, looked at all the reviews and decided to go with Angelo's Boat Tours. And it was way better than I expected. We took a small group tour with 8 other people and it took about 5 hours, including an amazing seafood lunch at a local family restaurant (poor Jon is allergic to fish so he didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did..), we saw all the villages, swam in the warm sea, I took about a million pictures, and at the absolute highlight moment of the trip my camera battery died so I don't have the pictures to show you my favourite moment of 2016, swimming right by a waterfall coming down a cliff with nobody else around but us. All we could see were the rocks and the never-ending turquoise sea. I'm kind of glad that I couldn't take pictures as I'll never have to share that moment, I get to keep it all for myself. Anyway - do a boat tour, even though it might seem expensive - you'll love it. On the way back we saw someone paddleboarding with a dog standing at the front of the board barking as they made their way between two villages - that was just the cherry on top :)
The evenings of those two days we spent exploring Portofino and the small towns around it. You can actually drive there and find some parking (it was a bit difficult and pricey in Portofino but the rest of the little towns were fine), so that's exactly what we did. I had heard so much about Portofino and seen so many pictures on Instagram but when we actually got there it was way less impressive than Cinque Terre. It was amazing to spend an evening there and walk along the marina to check out all the crazy yachts but for me that was enough. I've lost all my Portofino pictures but you can see some of it in the video - and I'm sure you've already seen it from every angle on Instagram. I can't remember the name of the restaurant that we chose for the evening, but we sat outside and got a beautiful view of the whole marina at sunset - just remember to do a quick google reviews check before settling on a restaurant as there's so many of them and all quite pricey.
That's about it - a short but very sweet trip. I guess you can never really go wrong with Italy. Not many pictures to share unfortunately, but I wanted to have this for my own memories, and hopefully there are some ideas in here for those of you wanting to visit this beautiful area. Don't forget to watch the video if you haven't already! :) x