Life in the Italian Riviera Vacation Tour

A 8 day trip to Italy 
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Follow in the footsteps of Roman legions, Byzantine pilgrims, and Ligurian winemakers who carved the trails into the dramatic mountainsides that connects the towns of the Italian Riviera. Villages shine with pastel-painted homes, and antique statues adorn the hilltops of rugged promontories. Lemon trees and olive orchards prosper in the rich minerals and grow as abundantly as the nearby hilltop forests. Castle ruins sprout on cliffs, over steep walls, and alongside celebrated sandy beaches. Your custom tailored tour immerses you in the natural beauty of the countryside, the splendor of the coastline, and the rich culture of Italy.                                                                                                            

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Camogli, Portofino, Santa Margherita, Levanto, Monterosso, Vernazza, Manarola, Riomaggiore, Portovenere Corniglia   

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Levanto – Arrive on the Ligurian Coast in the Charming City of Levanto

Your first view of Italy comes in the form of Genoa and the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea as it laps at the city’s shores. The port of the city once harbored the naval might of Italy’s greatest maritime superpower as it defeated Pisa’s legendary fleet in the 9th-century. The preserved towers of Porta Soprana were erected in the 12th-century and lead to the childhood home of Christopher Columbus near the small cloister of Sant’Andrea. The dramatic stone towers and the lavish villas lining the Via Garibaldi contrast the charm and natural beauty of the Levanto.

Your private transfer will meet you at Cristoforo Colombo Airport and escort you to the peaceful town of Levanto as it’s edged by the Apennines and overlooks the turquoise waters that brush against the Ligurian coast. The salty breeze drifts across the pebbled coastline as the wide boulevards lead to narrow avenues paved with cobblestone. Peach and ochre hues drape the old building facades as cafes set out umbrella-covered tables along the walkways and around the sleepy piazzas. Lush trees rise from the hills and over the mountains.

Lounge chairs pepper the shoreline as waves curl and crash against the boulders at the base of the mountains. The aroma of fresh pesto drifts out of the local stores and restaurants. The remains of the 13th-century city walls lead to a medieval castle, which acted as the former defensive network of the city to protect Levanto from pirates and maritime raids. The square structure supports an imposing circular tower and offers a bird’s eye view to the horizon. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, dinner

Day 2: Levanto – Stroll to the Cliff of Punta Mesco and Visit Lovely Monterosso

In the morning, you can hear the waves crash against the rocks to the side of town, while the calmer sea laps at the sandy beach. The aroma of freshly baked brioche emanates from the corner café, accompanied by the scent of brewed espresso. After breakfast, embark on the first trek of your coastal exploration and make your way to the largest and most northern town of the collective that makes up the famous Cinque Terre. Follow the avenues through the heart of Levanto and past the castle up to Punta Mesco. Medieval villages speckle the countryside along the hilltops. Olive mills continue to rise out of the orchards and treetops.

The ocean breeze carries the refreshing aroma of the salted sea as the stone mills emerge from terraces adorned with large wheels along the sides and windows that look out to the hills. When you reach Punta Mesco, you have a tranquil panorama of the coastline along the rugged promontory crest. The sea shimmers two shades of blue layered by the distance to the coastline. The breeze carries the mixture of an aroma of verdant trees with the sweetening scent of the salt water. You can see the surfers carve the waves to the north and the calmer water at it spreads to the south.

The ruins of a nearby lighthouse offer a sense of culture in the gorgeous natural scenery. Continue down the steep path into Monterosso as the colorful buildings shine with pastel hues, from yellow to red, clustered along the beachfront promenade. Lounge chairs and umbrellas decorate the sandy shoreline along the small inlet as lemon trees grow out of the rugged hillside. The antique buildings lead back into the narrowing gorge as a tunnel beneath the San Cristoforo promontory leads to the contemporary neighborhoods of the growing town. The church of the Capuchin Father contains priceless artwork, such as a Crucifixion attributed to the artist Anthony Van Dyck.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Levanto –Scenic Train to Riomaggiore and Walk the Trails of Cinque Terre

In the morning, stroll along the beachside promenade and enjoy the mixture of the vintage ambiance and the contemporary lifestyle. The Mediterranean Sea makes you want to indulge in the Italian style of Dolce Far Niente, which means the sweetness of doing nothing. After breakfast, take the local train to the southernmost town of the Italian Riviera. The railway tunnels through the Apennines and opens to glorious views of the glistening water before it reaches the platform of vibrant Riomaggiore.

Artists have found inspiration in the five towns for centuries, especially in the way Riomaggiore has nestled into the narrow cleft of headlands. The church of San Giovanni was constructed in the 14th-century and contains a carved marble pulpit and a Renaissance triptych. Outside of the church, follow the cobbled streets to the remaining round towers and walls of the 15th-century castle. The city contains an aroma of the sea that blends with the freshly ground coffee beans, for a unique, indulgent scent.

You will leave Riomaggiore behind on the trail that connects each of the five towns of Cinque Terre as the pathway meanders along the seaside cliffs between the villages, to reach a length of more than seven miles as you travel from Riomaggiore to Monterosso. The shortest leg of the journey is between Riomaggiore and the neighboring village of Manarola, a gorgeous village on a cliff that glows with brightly painted houses. The main piazza fills with the scent of lemon and grilled fish freshly caught that morning as children swim in the miniature harbor beneath the 14th-century Gothic church that overlooks the city.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Levanto – Trek the Peninsula Trail from Riomaggiore to Portovenere

Today you will embark on the most challenging of the hikes along the Ligurian trails. However, the toughest challenges usually reap the best rewards! The local train once again takes you to the platform at Riomaggiore. The morning light brushes the edges of the cliffs until it sweeps across the turquoise sea. The medieval tower-houses create a majestic atmosphere as they wind along the narrow alleys and over the archways of town. The indulgent aroma of brioche floats along the cobblestone streets until you reach the steep flight of stairs that leads to the Madonna di Montenero Sanctuary. The church was erected in the 14th-century and renovated in the mid 19th-century.

From the trail, you will see the promontory of Cape Mesco and the small Tino Island. The terraced vineyards bring an aroma of the rich earth and sweet grapes to the forefront of the breeze. The warm sunlight spreads across the hillsides as you follow the trail once traversed by Romans and Byzantines to venture along the jagged coastline. The monastery stands at approximately 1,000 feet above sea level and stone buildings speckle the trail that leads to the small villages between Riomaggiore and Portovenere. Two small and secluded beaches flank the village of Corniglia. The village itself sits on a cliff that overlooks the sea, but hidden stairs wind down onto the shore beneath the lingering protective gaze of the 14th-century Church of San Pietro.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 5: Santa Margherita – Visit Villages and Hamlets en route to Santa Margherita

The trail between Moneglia and Santa Margherita encompass nearly 10 miles. You have discovered that Italy’s west coast is a wild collection of rolling mountains and verdant forests that spread to the breathtaking sea. The adventure continues with your arrival in Monegila, as you follow the beach into the foothills. The small but affluent town has rows of umbrellas on the sandy beach to provide ample shade and luxurious refreshments for locals and visitors alike as a breakwater protects the shallow shoreline from waves and storms. The 12th-century church of Santa Croce has a courtyard filled with colorful stones and the nave displays a Byzantine cross and paintings produced by the local artist Luca Cambiaso.

Along the trail, you can hear the waves break against the black boulders and rocks of the rugged coastline. Charming gelaterias open up to the pedestrian streets in the town of Bonassola. The scent of butter and sage drifts from a plate of tortellini in the main square as locals venture out onto the water in rowboats and dinghies to cast their lines into the sea to pass the perfect sunny day. Clothes drip dry on the clotheslines that dangle from the apartment windows as your seaside stroll leads you to the village of Framura and the red rocks unique to the region. Holm oaks and vineyards overtake the former marble quarries and steep cliffs. The Genoese guard tower was erected in the 15th-century and stands near the Neo-Gothic chapel of Nostra Signora della Neve.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Santa Margherita – Tour the Abbey of San Fruttuoso and Enjoy a Sea Cruise to Camogli

Palm fronds wave in the sea breeze along the esplanade that lines the Mediterranean. Fishing vessels wade into the marina beside small yachts. In the morning, the fish market brims with vigor to display the treasures of the sea, from bream to octopus. After breakfast, begin your hike along the charming hills of the Portofino Peninsula to reach the viewpoints at the Abbey of San Fruttuoso. The entire trail reaches a length of fewer than eight miles. A statue of the Madonna emerges from a rocky niche near the 17th-century façade of Villa Durazzo as the breeze continues to carry the refreshing aroma of the sea to guide you further along the trail.

San Fruttuoso monastery overlooks an indentation of the mountainous coastline. The structure was built in a pearlescent stone that supports a large dome. The styles blend Romanesque and medieval eras, with burial vaults for the Genoese aristocratic Doria family. The water once flowed beneath the arches to allow visitors to moor their boats in the cellars. Today, you can walk along the small beach crafted by the receding water as the bronze statue of Christ of the Abyss stands 55 feet beneath the surface of the sea. A boat will take you from the monastery to the town of Camogli, and provide a scenic cruise of the zigzagging mountains along the coast.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Santa Margherita – Discover the Charms of Santa Margherita and Portofino

Portofino is a small, but perfectly positioned, coastal village at the edge of a peninsula of the same name. Boutique shops line the promenade that overlooks the quiet yacht-filled harbor. Cafés set out umbrellas to shade the tables along the sun-drenched walkways. The trail from Santa Margherita covers more than six miles along the Portofino Peninsula to cross over the rolling hills that offer a stunning view across the bay. You will want to look back at the jutting mountains and emerald trees that you have passed during your time trekking along the coast. Once in Portofino, you can relax in the typical Ligurian village with a luxurious twist.

The beauty of the coastline and the tranquility of the streets have brought visitors from around the globe to bask in the simple pleasures of the Italian culture. The aroma of fresh espresso drifts out of the seaside cafes, and kids and adults alike relish a refreshing cold gelato with a selection of sweet flavors. Boutique shops create elegant window displays equal in thought and beauty to the natural contours of the coast. In the afternoon, you can enjoy a comfortable boat ride back to Santa Margherita and let the sea breeze wash over you along the way.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 8: Santa Margherita – Depart for Home

In the morning, enjoy one last walk along the beautiful promenade of Santa Margherita. The aroma of the palm trees sweeps across the cobblestone streets as the cafes open their doors with the sunrise and fill the town with the promise of espresso and fresh brioche. The fishing boats return from their morning excursion with full nets and smiling fishermen. After breakfast, your private transfer will escort you from the lobby of your hotel to Cristoforo Colombo Airport in Genoa. Soon your flight will carry you home, but you could extend your discovery of Italy’s land and sea with a venture south to the famous Amalfi Coast.

What’s Included: transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$2,195
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.