La Spezia 100 km southeast of Genoa, sits at the head of the gulf of the same name – also known as the Gulf of Poets in deference to Byron, Dante, DH Lawrence, Shelley, George Sand and many others drawn here its beauty.
The construction from 1860 to 1865 of Italy’s largest naval base propelled La Spezia from minor port to provincial capital, its street grid and venerable public buildings largely a product of that time. Tday it’s a busy working town, dominated by the still significant naval presence, though its clutch of museummake it worth a stopover.It’s also a useful base for excursion to the Cinque Terre, Porto Venere and beyond.
The Spezia, parking lot equipped to payment next to the harbour east. Tel. 0039 328 6922880, beautiful and comfortable.
Clinging defiantly to the steep coastline west of La Spezia, the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre- Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore- are among the most charming in Italy.
This Unesco World Heritage site encompasses a national park protected marine area, and offers several walking paths allowing you to explore the stunning scenary at your own leisure. Each village is linked by train. Monterosso, parking lot in shore to the payment sea, very beautiful.
The River Oglio winds up to the lake through the Valle Camonica between two national parks.
Walking is the main attraction both here and around Marone on the eastern shore, from where a road winds into the mountains to Zone. Small and quiet Sulzano 12 km south of Marone, is linked by ferry to the lake island of Monte Isola. Iseo, a pleasant, if rather quiet, spot fronting the southern end of the lake, Iseo boasts the first monument commemorating Garibaldi. South of the small town lies a 2 sq km protected weatland, formed from 18th –century peat beds. In the spring the pools are smothered in water lilies.
From Iseo you can catch a boat to Monte Isola, Europe’s largest lake island at 5 sq km. Few vehicles are allowed on the streets – cycling is the preferred means of getting around, making the fishing village a peaceful place to stay. Sleeping: in Sulzano a beautiful, guarded area allows an enjoyable and relaxing vacation or in one of the numerous camp sites in the area.
Monterosso is the most developed of the CInque Terre villages, offering a good parking for motorhome to payment. Huge statues are embedded into the rocks overlook one of the region’s few beaches, a long, narrow stretch of coarse sand and pebbles.
Vernazza’s tiny harbour is a delight, so perfectly quaint you’ll think you’ve wandered onto a film set. The small waterfront piazza seems to be the village focus, watched over by the rathergloomy harbour-side Chiesa di Snta Margherita, which has stood since 1318. The ruins of an 11th-century castle overlook the water on the oder side of the port. Heading inland, the road is chocked with vineyards and lemon groves.
Balanced precariously along a ridge high above the sea, Corniglia offers a picturesque scene of four-storey houses, narrow lanes and stairways women into a hill by La Torre, a medieval lookout. From the central square, via Fieschi cuts through the village hearth to Belvedere Santa Maria, another lookout with a coastal panorama.In summer, minibuses shuttle tourists between the station and village – otherwise, it is a strenuous 363-steep zig-zag uphill.
More grapes are grown around Manarola than any other Cinque Terre village.At the northern end of the steep via Discovolo, you’ll come upon Piazzale Papa Innocenzo IV, dominated by a bell tower and used as a defensive lookout in the Middle Ages. Opposite, the Chiesa di San Lorenzo dates from 1338 and houses a 15th century polyptych. Fit visitors can follow a path off nearby via Rollandi that leads through vineyards to the top of the mountain.
A mess of houses slithering down a ravine to form the main street, Riomaggiore is the main village in the Cinque Terre. Tiny fishing boats bob by the shore or sit stacked on the small waterside square when seas are rough. Outside the train station – a short walk trough a tunnel or ride in a lift from town – murals depict the hard work of Cinque Terre farmers who, over the centuries, built the Cinque Terre with their bare hands