Fishers return to the marinas found on the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean Sea alongside the olive groves, vineyards, and lemon orchards that thrive on the steep terraced hillsides that ridge the Ligurian coastline. Embrace the Italian idea of passeggiata on your custom tailored Northern Italy itinerary and take to the unpaved trails and cobbled lanes that connect the villages and towns along the Italian Riviera. From the colorful homes of Cinque Terre to the beautiful cliff-adorned...
Levanto – Arrive on the Ligurian Coast in the Enchanting Town of Levanto
The Alps and the Apennines converge near the Ligurian coastline and then plunge into the Mediterranean Sea as remnants of the Roman Empire, Byzantine traders, and the Genovese Republic continue to influence the culture in the architecture, cuisine, and artistry along the shores. Your flight will land at Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport, and your private transfer will greet you upon arrival and escort you into the gorgeous city of Levanto. Cobblestones add charm to the seaside streets over the foundations of the Roman city of Ceula. In the Middle Ages, Levanto gained prominence as a stop along the pilgrimage route of Via Francigena, which connected France to Rome.
The scent of the sea sweeps between the tower homes as boats wade in the quiet marina alongside the promenade and cobbled beaches. Restaurants cook sea bass over a grill, dressing the fish garlic and fresh squeezed lemon. You can settle into the comforts of your grand accommodation that will combine beautiful views with contemporary luxury. The remainder of the day is yours to bask in the beauty of Levanto at your preferred pace to stroll along the ramparts of the medieval castle and the Gothic façade of the 13th-century church of Sant’Andrea.
Levanto – Embrace the Landscape and Trek from Levanto to Monterosso
The morning light will wash over the sapphire colors of the Mediterranean Sea as the forest canopy shimmers with the emerald hues of the trees that blanket over the framing peaks. The golden sand along the shoreline shines alongside the shading umbrellas as the water splashes against the beach. The scent of the sea meets the aroma of fresh espresso that drifts out of the promenade cafes. After breakfast, you can take to the trail that winds around Punta Mesco to reach the treasured cobbled lanes of Monterosso, the most northerly town of Cinque Terre.
Wander through the old town center of Levanto, known as Borgo Antico. The facades dates back to the 13th century and was built around the Church of Sant’Andrea. Ivy drapes down the rosy and red painted buildings as locals ride bikes along the waterfront. The trail leading to Monterosso covers five miles of beautiful wandering along the undulating mountains. The scent of pine overtakes the sweet and salty aroma of the sea and the trees open to panoramas of the cliffs as they plunge into the splashing water while the unpaved path reaches an elevation gain of nearly 1,000 feet.
As you climb the most notable promontory between Levanto and Cinque Terre, an old lighthouse crowns the summit. You will next descend into Monterosso, and find the bright red, blue and yellow tower homes of the old district along the beach there to welcome you into town. The aroma of basil and pine nuts filters out of the restaurants known for their pesto as olive orchards and vineyards decorate the terraced gardens along the hills. The 16th-century Aurora Tower continues to stand on the summit of the promontory that borders Monterosso once defended the city from pirate attacks.
Levanto – Hike the Trail that Connects the Remaining Towns of Cinque Terre
The vintage décor of a nearby favorite cafe shapes the illustrious ambiance that garnished by the aroma of frothy cappuccino and freshly baked brioche. The baristas place delicious espressos on the long wooden bar and offer croissants that are stuffed with vanilla cream. After breakfast, you will take a scenic train ride to Riomaggiore, the most southerly town of Cinque Terre, to explore the trails that connect the remaining villages that lead to Vernazza. The tower homes of Riomaggiore shimmer in the sunlight over the small marina as the water laps against the breakwater.
The water sparkles with clarity against the backdrop of the horizon as bars and restaurants offer rooftop views to the narrow cobbled lanes and splendid undulating homes nestled into the mountain ridges. The striking images provide a postcard-like memory to take with you as you continue along the trail that connects to Manarola. The town sits atop a plateau that is bordered by the steep drop to the sea, and the ascending terraced vineyards as fishing boats wade in the small marina or dry on the rocky shoreline.
Meet with one of the local wine producers of the village to learn about the more than 300 growers who bring their grapes from the terraces to the coastline. You can wander along the vineyard and learn about the effects of the maritime breeze on the flavor of the grapes as you touch the plump grapes and feel the grit of the dirt on your fingers. After exploring the vineyards, you can then taste the sciacchetra, a dessert wine known for its aroma of candied orange, dried fig, and hazelnut.
Levanto – Enjoy a Hike to Portovenere and a Private Cruise to Levanto
In the morning, you can enjoy a quiet walk along the seaside promenade as the sunlight peeks over the Maritime Alps and filters through the narrow cobbled alleyways of Old Town. After breakfast, you will catch the train with your guide and return to the towering homes of Riomaggiore. You will find the trail that connects Cinque Terre to Portovenere, a town located at the edge of the peninsula established as a Roman port for an easy connection to Spain.
You will soon reach the Sanctuary of Montenero that was constructed in the early 17th century. The church was restored in the mid-1900s to reestablish the grandeur of the oval atrium and grottos as a sacred image of the Madonna was crafted in the 14th century with an artistic aesthetic from the Pisan school. The covered arcade opposite the chapel contains the tombs of Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi, Enrico Pollastrini, and Giovanni Fattori and commemorates their heroism and connection to the region of Liguria. Continue along the trail until you reach Campiglia for a rest. The aroma of saffron will fill the town and drift along the sloping streets that are nestled between the medieval homes. You will see the edge of the Gulf of Poets before winding down the slopes to reach the captivating coastal town of Portovenere.
Santa Margherita – Visit the Secluded San Fruttuoso and the Local Wineries
After breakfast, your private transfer will greet you at your hotel and escort you to the town Santa Margherita, located south of Cinque Terre. The vintage seaside resort town offers luxury and classic Italian charm as private yachts moor beside sailboats and fishing boats wade in the water as local fishers return from the sea. Cafes set out tables along the promenade amongst the gelaterias and restaurants as they open their doors. After taking the time to settle into the quiet luxuries of your hotel with a view of the water, you will meet your guide and take to the trail that leads to San Fruttuoso. A stairway connects the path along the mountain, sloping downwards until reaching the stairs to the Abbey, which is only reached by these stairs or by boat.
The Doria Tower soars above the religious center and was erected in the 16th century to protect the small bay from pirates. The archways along the Abbey show how the receding shoreline of the water once rushed beneath the archways to allow boats to deliver necessities to the monks and disembark directly into the chambers. The triple mullioned windows adorn the façade embody the attributes of Romanesque and medieval architectural. Beachgoers will enjoy the pebbled shoreline with a small restaurant nestled into the hill as umbrellas shade the hot beach as the lapping water cools the ground beneath the Mediterranean sun.
Santa Margherita – Venture to Portofino and Enjoy a Private Cooking Class
After breakfast, you can set out to enjoy the hike to Portofino. The beauty of the Ligurian Sea decorates the walk as the scent of the water blends with the pine aroma of the forest. Villas crown the hills and are framed by oak trees and bristling pines. You will pass an olive orchard with nets cast along the ground for harvesting as the latticed-grid looks buoyant when the olives fall from the canopy. The descent will bring you to the cobbled streets of Portofino where yachts fill the harbor of the gorgeous town.
Designer shops offer lavish window displays and lead to the main promenade. Cafes and restaurants set out their tables for patrons to enjoy the breeze and fill the city the aromas of grilled calamari drizzled with lemon. You will meet your private chef in the center of town and pass the dramatic ramparts of Brown Castle. The private kitchen offers a cozy space to learn the staples of Ligurian cuisine, beginning with the preparation of handmade pasta. Before preparing a delicious array of prawns for the main course, you can make the incredible pesto of the region, utilizing the abundance of fragrant basil, with garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and pine nuts.
Santa Margherita – Relish the Beauty of Liguria with a Day at Leisure
At breakfast, you can sip your hot and frothy cappuccino and enjoy the pleasures of the morning light. The palm trees rustle in the sea breeze, and the windows of the 17th-century Villa Durazzo stands atop the slopes to offer unparalleled views of the coastline. Bakeries fill the air with the savory scent of fresh focaccia bread, and the day is yours to indulge in the beauty and charms of the Italian Riviera at your leisure. Stroll along the streets of Santa Margherita or return to the villages of Cinque Terre to bask on the sands of Monterosso’s beach. You can enjoy a final adventure along the water with a private boat to Tellaro, a picturesque seaside town on the outcrop of the Gulf of Pets.
The buildings and streets sprouted from the nearby village of Barbazzano in the 14th century. The protective wall surrounding the homes symbolizes the intent of fortifying the province to protect from sea invasions. Two Pisan towers remain, with one converted into the bell tower connected to the Church of San Giorgio in the 16th century. The pink hues of the church façade contain an inscription dedicated to the tale of the giant octopus that once saved the town from a Saracen invasion. Continue to Lerici to explore the remarkably preserved 16th-century castle towering above the harbor.
Santa Margherita – Depart for Home
In the morning, the waters along Paraggi Beach splash against the golden sand as the promontories keep the sea calm and soothing. Opera singers practice in the galleries of Villa Durazzo in season and add to the captivating soundtrack of the seaside. The boutique shops near the promenade open their doors with the morning light as the cafes fill the city with the aroma of espresso and brioche stuffed with chocolate. The marketplace brims with fresh produce and glows with mounds of oranges and lemons. After one last morning to take it in, your guide will greet you at the hotel when you are ready and escort you to Pisa International Airport for your flight home.
- Embrace the gorgeous nature of the Ligurian countryside while traversing the trails that straddle the Maritime Alps with steep cliffs and stunning seaside
- Indulge in the fresh and enchanting flavors of Liguria during a private cooking class that will highlight the staples of the regional coastal cuisine
- Delight in the beauty of the five towns collectively known as Cinque Terre while trekking the renowned trails that connect the village streets along the coast
- Visit the hidden Abbey of San Fruttuoso, reached only by boat or by trail, for a blend of beachside fun and opulent historical architecture
- Sample the regional desert wine of sciacchetra after touring the terraced vineyards that overlook the Mediterranean Sea
- Traverse the cobbled lanes, charming marinas, historical Cathedrals, and dramatic castles of hidden villages along the Gulf of Poets
- Hike the trails that connect the towns and villages of the Italian Riviera, including circumnavigating Punta Mesco
The forests of the Maritime Alps glow emerald as the Mediterranean waters glisten with indigo, turquoise, and sapphire hues. Markets brim with locals in search of the catch of the day and cafes offer views to the marina, accompanied by the decadent aroma of espresso. Your 8-day itinerary of Northern Italy will combine daily life with active participation and allow you to discover the landscapes of the coastline and the culture of the seaside towns at your preferred pace. Your adventure will begin with your arrival at Genoa Cristoforo Colombo Airport, and your private transfer will greet you and escort you to your luxurious hotel in Levanto. Enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure to visit both the New and the Old neighborhoods of the city that edges the captivating waters.
The next day, you will follow your guide on the trail that connects Levanto to Monterosso, one of the five towns of the renowned Cinque Terre. Follow the path along the mountains to enjoy the views around Punta Mesco. In Monterosso, you can wander the cobbled lanes and bask on the warm sand of the beach before returning to Levanto. Wake the next day to take the train to Riomaggiore, the most southerly town of Cinque Terre, to begin you adventurous hike that will connect the remaining towns. In Manarola, you will relish a wine tour that will include tastings of the sciacchetra dessert wine.
Begin the next day as you follow the trail to Portovenere with a stop en route at the Sanctuary of Montenero and the village of Campiglia. Your guide will meet you at your hotel the next day to escort you to Santa Margherita. After settling into the comforts of your lavish hotel, you can follow the trail that leads to San Fruttuoso. Continue inland to visit a local winery that produces delicious organic wines, and the next day, take to the trails that connecting Santa Margherita to Portofino, a luxurious town known for its handsome lanes and rich history.
Meet your chef in the town square for a private cooking class that will introduce you to the authentic flavors of the Ligurian cuisine. Indulge with a day at your leisure to explore the wonders of the Italian Riviera as you desire. Relish the hidden villages on the Gulf of Poets or return to Cinque Terre to bask in the comforts of your favorite of the five villages. You could also take an excursion to Pisa to view the legendary Piazza dei Miracoli. Conclude as your private transfer will greet you at your hotel after breakfast and escort you to the Genoa International Airport for your flight home.
$2,195 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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