Megan McCaffrey-Guerrera is a California native turned Ligurian. Her longtime passion for Italy inspired her to move there, where she married Cinque Terre native Luigi, and created Bella Vita Italia, a company that offers customized itineraries, trip consulting, rentals, and excursions up and down the boot. Clients rave about Bella Vita Italia’s services, that tailor all details to individual desires, and give travelers insiders’ experiences for the memory books.
Back in Lerici, you may also enjoy a walk up to the medieval fortress. While the inside is nothing special, the panoramic views of the Gulf of Poets are SPECTACULAR.
Another nice walk is from the village center to the charming village of Tellaro (about 30 minutes) through the area known as Fiashcerino with some of the most beautiful, old villas on the Italian Riviera jutting down into the Mediterranean below. Tellaro itself is a well-intact seaside village with typical colorful “terratetto” homes and a charming old church right on the sea.
If you are up for hiking, there are a couple of fantastic routes from Lerici up to the area known as Zanego and then down to Tellaro. Another good one is on the ridge of la Rocchetta to Montemarcello where you have views of both the Gulf of Poets to the west AND the Carrara marble mountains to the east.
A couple of good places to stay in Lerici are Doria Park – a nice, family-run 3-star hotel that has been recently renovated. They serve an abundantly delicious breakfast until NOON!
Grazie Megan, for bringing me to sunny Lerici on this cold winter day…
Grazie mille for all your wonderful comments/answers to the Who Inspired Your Love for Italy question.
I’ve loved reading each of them–from beautiful stories of nonnas, parents to teachers, children, friends, chefs, neighbors, Dante!–what amazing paths bring Italy into our lives!
My husband drew names from a pasta bowl today…Allora…Drumroll…
Here are the Book and Dream of Italy subscription winners:
Trena Johnson = 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go,
by Susan Van Allen
Margery Holdsworth = How to Eat in Italy…if Chicken Parm is Your Favorite Italian Dish, by Carol Coviello-Malzone
Christine Reinhardt = Italy: Instructions for Use, by Nan McElroy
Who Stole My Basil bloggers = Dream of Italy subscription,
Kathy McCabe=Editor and Publisher
AUGURI to all!
Winners, please send your address to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can mail you your prizes.
To Celebrate the Holidays:
ITALY BOOK GIVEAWAY!
FIVE BOOKS ABOUT ITALY &
AN ONLINE SUBSCRIPTION TO THE DREAM OF ITALY NEWSLETTER WITH BONUS 2013 ITALIA CALENDAR
Will be given away to commenters selected in a RANDOM DRAWING
It’s NOT a CONTEST, anyone who comments can win!
TO PLAY: Complete This Sentence In The Comment Section Below:
Someone who inspired my Love for Italy was/is ________________________
Write the first thing that comes to your mind, for example…
My Nana, who emigrated from Molise, traveled back to Italy, and sent letters that intrigued me OR
Iolanda, the signora in Montefollonico (Tuscany) who taught me to roll pici OR
The barista at the Caffe Farnese in Rome OR
I’ve never actually been to Italy, but I’ll say Sophia Loren is inspirational!
One of These Can Be Yours…
edited by Kathy McCabe
DEADLINE: MIDNIGHT, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 8
The SIX WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED: SUNDAY, DECEMBER 9
You may win a book to give to an Italophile in your life Or it may be your first present of the season!
“Texan by birth, Italian by accident,” is how Kate Little describes herself. For Kate, a sciopero (strike) became a life-changing event. In 1989, she was traveling through Italy, got stranded in Monterosso al Mare (Cinque Terre) because of a train strike…and never left. She now lives in Fontana, a village between Monterosso and Levanto, with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 2 cats, 8 chickens, a turkey, and 2 awol land turtles.
I discovered Kate through her Little Paradiso blog, where she writes great insider posts about her area, including a recent one about Monterosso’s prized lemons. Kate is an authorized Italian tour coordinator, a licensed sommelier, and holds a master’s degree from the University of Rome in Italian Enogastronomic Culture. She enjoys helping tourists understand Italy and its culture through food and wine. She is also a founding member of RebuildMonterosso.com, and has been active in the reconstruction of the Cinque Terre after the devastating flood of October 25th, 2011.
My day would start by waking up early to sunny blue skies and a calm sea. After slipping on my swimsuit, comfy clothes and my hiking tennies, I would walk on the dock in Monterosso to see what the day’s weather will be and to breathe in the delicious salty air. Next, I’d backtrack to Midi Bar (Piazza Garibaldi, 3) in the main piazza, for a cappuccino and a slice of fresh, warm, focaccia–and a daily dose of town gossip.
Grazie Mille Kate–I am ready to pack my bags!
Andi Brown’s Once in a Lifetime blog sparkles with her lively passion for Italy. You’ll always find stunning photos there, and she covers the range of Italian experiences from recipes to rock bands, to one of her recent posts, that had me nodding along and smiling: Top 10 Cheap Thrills in Italy.
Though Andi’s traveled all over the globe, she has always been drawn back to Italy. She brings her love and decades of experience traveling there to her Consultation Service, where she customizes Italian travel itineraries, designing fabulous trips to fit any budget, giving visitors the chance to experience authentic Italy–from family run businesses, to cooking classes, to wine tastings.
I love waking up in the town, seeing the harbor, and even walking up to the cemetery at the top of the village. It’s probably a bit morbid, but there are so many unanswered stories, so much history and so much sameness in our humanity through loss.
(Yikes! As I wrote this, a huge rock slide injuring hikers has shut down Via dell’Amore–read more about it here. I know they will work hard to repair, but I don’ t have any idea when it will reopen. …Always check for trail closures before heading out!)
From Riomaggiore, I’ll train back to Vernazza. Right at the Vernazza train station is my favorite caffe, The Blue Marlin (Via Roma 43)–great for espresso or beer. It’s not what you would expect to find in this little village–it’s got an energetic vibe, always filled with young people.
Or, I might treat myself for gelato at Porto Dody Gelateria Artiginale (also on Via Roma). It’s a sentimental favorite–the owner died during the last year’s flooding while helping to save his family.
In the evening, I love to take the Vernazza to Monterosso walk again, as the sun is fading, just to the top of town for amazing views. There is an area with a romantic view and a bench to enjoy it.
Here are a few of my favorite places for dinner:
Trattoria da Sandro (Via Roma, 0187 812223). This amazing place, just re-opened after being badly damaged in last year’s flooding. Have the octopus salad for a starter, then either the Troffie al Pesto or the ravioli with walnut cream sauce.
Pizzeria Vulnetia. This is our go-to place for good pizzas. It’s a fun place with friendly service–unless you are a crabby snob, they don’t have patience for that! Order THE best tegame alla Vernazza (potatos, tomatos and fresh anchovies). Giuliano has been serving us there for years.
For romance, reserve a table at Ristorante al Castello (Via Guidoni 56, 0187 812296), on the edge with cliff side views. I had an amazing pasta and shell fish dish here. It’s a strong family restaurant with guarded family recipes.
Stay overnight or you risk missing the beauty, charm and soul of this place.
Okay, it’s not that easy. There are No Real Hotels Here BUT…. Martina Callo rents several rooms. The very top room, #3, (up something like 79 stairs) has its own terrace and a view that makes you reluctant to head back down all those stairs. Her website is pretty marginal at www.roomartina.com
Giuliano Basso had rooms that I loved but they were destroyed in the flooding and I honestly don’t know if they will reopen by next season. I’m heartbroken, he built the B&B by hand, each stone laid down with such a love and passion.
Finally, I encourage travelers to help bring back Vernazza, as the residents still work to rebuild it from the devastation of last October’s flooding, that buried the town in 13 feet of mud and debris, killing 3 residents. I have loads of info on my blog about what happened and how you can help. Here are some photos from SaveVernazza that show how far the town has come…
Grazie mille Andi–for lots of inspiration to return to Vernazza!
There’s a new book on my reading list: Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy, by Margie Miklas. Margie is an Italian-American writer, photographer, and critical care nurse, based in Florida. Her memoir recounts her dream-come-true-3-month trip to Italy, where she visited 50 towns, from Val d’Aosta to Sicily, and also searched out her grandparent’s village, meeting long lost cousins. Brava Margie!
I also recommend checking out this Italofile’s blog, Margieintaly, which features a mix of up to date Italy info and her beautiful photos, some of which she’s turned into notecards and sells in her Etsy shop.
Portofino is small, a half moon shaped harbor, filled with million dollar yachts, and just under 500 permanent residents. My favorite activity is to explore this beautiful place on foot and take a walking tour.
From the piazzetta, after checking out all the shops, art galleries and boutiques, head uphill along the harbor and after 15 minutes you’ll arrive at St. George Church. Around the right side are fantastic views of the rocky coastline and the Ligurian Sea.
For lunch or dinner, one of the most highly rated restaurants is Ristorante Puny, (Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta 5, 01 8526 9037, Reservations essential, Closed Thurs), also perfectly situated in la piazzetta. The specialties include fresh sea bass, locally caught. The waiters filet your fish in front of you at your outdoor table, and the owner, Signor Puny comes around to personally check on you. Pappardelle al Portofino (with tomatoes and pesto), is a favorite pasta dish, and the octopus and warm artichoke salad is also delicious.
Or another small outdoor restaurant, on the edge of the yacht harbor, a little away from the main crowds, providing perfect views of the castle and the entire piazzetta area and the town rising into the hills, is Ristorante Magazin O, (34 Calata Marconi, 0185 269 178, Closed Mondays) also featuring fresh sea bass and pastas with seafood. The seafood antipasto is a must. Its small menu takes nothing away from the quality of the food here. The prices are high, like all the restaurants in Portofino.
A pretty place to stay is the boutique Eight Hotel Portofino. It has 18 air-conditioned guest rooms, wi-fi, and it’s a short walk from the harbor. Prices start at 330 euros for a double room and 670 euros for a suite in the off season.
Or, stay at the Albergo Nazionale, the only waterfront hotel in Portofino, and it’s much cheaper than the nearby Splendido Mare. Prices can be as low as 100 euros a night, with rooms not facing the water. What you give up in room décor you make up for in location.
Even though Portofino is expensive, I was able to buy a few beautiful art prints at the galleries at a reasonable price. They are hanging on my wall and remind me every day of this little slice of Paradise.
Find more info about Margie Miklas and Memoirs of a Solo Traveler–My Love Affair With Italy on her Margieinitaly blog.
We’re moving on to the region of Liguria, that enchanting crescent on Italy’s northwestern shore. Last spring, I spent a few dreamy days in Portovenere. The Romans believed that this spot is where the Goddess Venus rose from the sea. In early May, before the summer tourist crowds, it was heavenly.
A lovely way to get there is by ferry from La Spezia, bobbing past fishing villages on the Gulf of the Poets, and then the Portovenere harbor appears...Click here for ferry schedule–the ride is about 45 minutes.
Start your day with a buon capuccino at the Bar Lamia, right at the marina, where you can sit outside with the locals and enjoy the view. For the best focaccia in town, warm from the oven, head up through the stone gate, to Panetteria Nicla (Via G. Capaellini 84).
Then wind your way up to the Church of San Lorenzo, a grand spot built by the Genovese in the 12th century. The morning I arrived, five nuns were sweeping the marble floors, chanting the rosary in Latin, their voices echoing off the stones. Inside, to the right of the altar, check out the Miraculous Madonna Bianca. The story goes that on August 17, 1399, the painting changed colors and the Madonna’s arms moved. If you show up for the August anniversary, you’ll be treated to a torchlit procession to commemorate the miracle.
Grazie to Joyce Falcone, of the Italian Concierge, who gave me a tip for a delicious lunch adventure: Locanda Lorena. The restaurant is on Isola Palmaria, that faces Portovenere. I called them up, and they sent an 8-seater boat for me and a couple of other travelers. In minutes we were across the strait and docking right at the restaurant, where fisherman were unloading nets full of shellfish. Which is why I ordered the spaghetti con frutti di mare…exquisite. Splendid to sit either inside or outside under the pergola and finish with a pear and chocolate tart.
Back in Portovenere, the perfect spot for sunset watching is Byron’s Cove, tucked into the side of the promontory where the Church of Saint Peter was built over Venus’s temple. Settle on to a rock for the awe-inspiring show.
For dinner, a fancy option is Trattoria Tre Torri (Piazza Bastreri 9, 0187 790477, closed Wed), for great seafood and homemade pasta.
Or for folksier, go to the best of the osterias on the main drag of the old town, Osteria del Carugio (Via Capellino 66, 0187 790617, closed Thurs AND closes early for dinner–around 8:30 when I was there). Here you can order Mes-ciua, a typical soup of chickpeas and grains, and be serenaded with folk songs by owner Antonio Clerici.
I loved staying at La Lanterna. a charmng, easy on the budget Guest House, where every room comes with a terrace that overlooks the harbor.
Also, the tourist office in Portovenere, (Pro Loco Porto Venere), set at the entrance to the stone-arch-gate, is fabulously set up to help you with your stay in Portovenere and travels farther north into the Cinque Terre and beyond…