The five towns of Cinque Terre create a charming enclave where the Maritime Alps meet the Mediterranean Sea. The villages each encircle a ravine outlet with pastel-painted homes and narrow cobblestone streets free of cars and enchantingly preserved in their isolation. Your flight will land at Cristoforo Colombo Airport in Genoa, and your private transfer will meet you at baggage claim to escort you alongside the coastline that encompasses the Italian Riviera. Villages with medieval castles rise out of the plateaus that overlook the water as fishing towns border golden sand beaches.
Quiet trails crisscross the hilltops that lead you to private gardens and lush vineyards that rush over the terraces. Once in Monterosso, you will settle in at your luxurious hotel set on a promontory that overlooks the water. Verdant olive trees and grape vines grow along the hillside as the pebbled beach arches near the opposite promontory. The cliff is adorned with an early 20th-century sculpture that depicts a giant holding the base of what was once a villa on its back. Umbrellas shade the beach, and circuitous cobblestone lanes lead to small boutique shops with elegant window displays.
The aroma of the seaside blends with the herbaceous scent of fresh pesto sauce that drifts out of the cellar-like restaurants set amidst the narrowing streets. The tunnel at the back of the city leads to the contemporary district of town that overtakes the valley and foothills of the encompassing mountains. The medieval stones of Torre Aurora once protected the town from pirate attacks in the 16th century and remains a fixture on a small plateau that overlooks the layered shades of blue that span the Mediterranean to the horizon.
In the morning, you will bask in the refreshing aroma of a semi-sweet cappuccino and indulge in its frothy texture as the sea splashes against the rocks. Your local guide will meet you in the hotel lobby after breakfast to lead you on a tour of the beauty found in the landscape and radiating from the culture. You will board a scenic train ride to the town of Riomaggiore, the most southerly of the five towns of Cinque Terre. Intermittent tunnels shade you from the spreading Mediterranean sunlight before it opens once more to striking views of verdant trees that overtake the rugged promontories that lead down into the sea.
The town of Riomaggiore was settled in the 8th century and flourished in the 13th century. Pastel buildings have nestled between the steep hills draped in thriving vineyards as fishing boats wade in the water along the small harbor at the foot of a stone stairway for centuries. The tower of Torre Guardiola once belonged to a fortress, but now offers a pristine position for birdwatchers. The 13th-century ruins of Riomaggiore Castle stand atop the hill above town as the square supports two circular towers and a large clock.
The tower-houses of the medieval center creates light and shadow due to the sloping roofs and particular colors that accentuate the façade to turn the town into an artistic expression. Two small beaches to the sides of town offer a relaxing spot to relax. Dip your feet into the water to feel the cool, briny Mediterranean splash against your toes. Board a small boat to reach a hidden bay framed by the Maritime Alps. You can bask in the fading sunlight with a glass of prosecco as your guide prepares a delicate blend of freshly caught seafood and delicious pasta.
Bakeries fill with the scent of freshly baked focaccia bread in the morning. Bakers cut the bread into squares and fill their display cases with different seasoned creations, accentuated with thyme, rosemary, or pesto. After breakfast, you will step aboard a ferry to cruise along the Mediterranean to the town of Portovenere. The water shimmers indigo beneath the sunlight, and you will have an unencumbered view of the forest, vineyards, and olive trees that grow along the mountaintops. Sporadic villages are set against the hills, ravines, and cliffs open up between the trees.
You will reach Portovenere to find the town perched atop the western cape of the Gulf of Poets. Homes reach upwards of eight stories and border the harbor to resemble a colorful citadel before Doria Castle. Romans constructed the port as a base en route to Spain. The Church of San Pietro embodies the town and its history, elegantly standing at the edge of a cliff, connected to medieval streets, and captivating both outside and in. The church was erected over the base of a Roman temple in the 6th century and the Gothic-style bell tower contains black and white stones in a stripe formation.
The Romanesque arches in the loggia frame the coastline and locals and visitors alike wander along the preserved medieval center, marked by the 12th-century city gate decorated with a Latin inscription. Elegant restaurants set out chairs and tables on the waterfront in view of the bobbing boats as the scent of simmering mussels contains a briny and sweet aroma. Venture to the nearby island of Palmaria, which is visible from the shores of Portovenere. The Island features beaches lined with pine trees and hammocks swaying in the soft sea breeze like a tropical paradise.
The seaside glows like gemstones against the craggy boulders at the base of the mountains as people venture to the beach early to lounge beneath the shade of the striped umbrellas. You can dip your feet into the water and let the sunlight wash over your shoulders as the day begins. After breakfast, you will meet your local guide in the lobby ready to traverse the trails that connect the villages of Cinque Terre. You will pass the Aurora Tower as you walk along the Blue Path, a network of walkways that cover more than seven miles, leading between Monterosso in the north to Riomaggiore in the south. Today you will traverse only the trail that connects Monterosso to Vernazza.
Locals tend to their vineyards along the terraces, watering the roots and clipping away leaves. Fig and orange trees rich with fruit blossom alongside the trail near wild asparagus growing in the bush. The forest overtakes your view of the water and shades the trail before receding along the hillside framing the tower-houses of Vernazza below. Fishing boats fill the natural harbor moored against the cobblestone streets in view of the 15th-century castle ruins. Once in town, you will venture to the 14th-century Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia. An octagonal dome adorns the more than 130-foot tall bell tower as the old town walls encircle the 16th-century tower rising above the edging cliff, erected by the Genoese during their rule of the coastline.
Today you will leave the shores of Monterosso behind for the day and follow the trails through Portofino National Park. Your guide will bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy amidst the Apennine woods of chestnut trees, olive groves, and blossoming flowers. The herbaceous aroma of olive trees emanates from the orchards along the eastern edges of the park near wheat bushels and wild figs. Mills, both working and abandoned since the 18th century, decorate the landscape to help process the cereals and oils for the province. The Calla dell’Oro contains strawberry trees blossoming along the coastal strip as the scent of heather and pistachio fills the air.
The scarlet hues of the strawberries contrast with the detailed blues of the sea. Your guide will point out the turtledoves and golden orioles that nest in the trees. After exploring the wilds of the park, you can enter into the luxurious setting of the prominent fishing village framed by holm oaks and Aleppo pines. Vibrant gardens grow along the edges of town hidden by the illustrious boutique shops that highlight the tradition of macramé lacework. Fishing boats, yachts, and sailboats fill the harbor with colorfully painted ridges that reflect in the sea’s surface. Cafes and restaurants offer views of the boats and seaside and offer glasses of chilled white wines and fresh seafood steeped in provincial tradition. The small figure of Brown Castle rises out of the crag situated above town to provide a magnificent view of the coast.
Indulge with a morning at your leisure to relax on the pebbled beach of Monterosso or visit the remaining two towns of Cinque Terre. The village of Corniglia sits on a promontory more than 328 feet above sea level enclosed on three sides by steep vineyards and terraces. The Mediterranean Sea borders Corniglia on the fourth side, and a collection of stairways crisscross the hillside to make Corniglia the most remote of the five towns along the Italian Riviera. The main street of Via Fieschi traverses the entire town and runs alongside the brightly painted homes before reaching Piazzeta Ciapara. The main square of Largo Taragio was erected in the 18th century, and an ancient well adorns the center of the square beneath the shadow of the Oratory of Santa Caterina. The central dome was painted to resemble the sky, and your eyes are captivated.
After visiting the towns, you will meet with a private chef eager to teach you the steps to producing a traditional Ligurian meal using local ingredients of Cinque Terre. You will enter into a luxurious kitchen with a view of the countryside as the scent of olives and oranges fills the kitchen. The region of Cinque Terre is the birthplace of pesto and produces bushels of basil leaves in the rich soil across the terraces. Your chef will help you to roll and shape lasagna noodles before stuffing the noodles with various types of cheeses and drizzling the herbaceous sauce over the top before baking the dish. You could also try your hand at baking a delicious focaccia that turns out as soft as a pillow and as luscious as any bread you have ever tasted.
In the morning, you can take your time to enjoy one last Italian breakfast in view of the Mediterranean Sea. Sip your rich espresso and bite into a freshly baked brioche. The sea breeze will sweep over the terraces as gelato stands open their doors and showcase their fluffy, whipped flavors inside display cases. Bakeries emanate the savory aroma of focaccia bread, which you have learned how to make in your own kitchen. When you are ready, you will meet your private transfer and make your way north to Genoa for your flight home. If you have the time, you can explore the wonderful history of Genoa, beginning at the old gates of the city known as Porta Soprana, which connects to the birthplace and childhood home of Christopher Columbus. The 12th-century walls retain their dramatic and powerful character even after 900 years.
Cinque Terre holds endless luxuries and countless adventures on Italy’s Ligurian coast. Whether in search of trails through beautiful scenery or in need of a beach holiday with access to glassy waters, the five towns of Cinque Terre provide the perfect blend of activity and luxury, tradition and contemporary lifestyle. Your vacation will begin with your arrival at Genoa’s international airport. Your private transfer will meet you at baggage claim to escort you down the Italian Riviera. Arrive in Monterosso, the largest of the five towns that make up Cinque Terre.
The remainder of the day is at your leisure to wander the cobblestone streets and charming shops beside the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. Take the scenic local train to Riomaggiore the next day to explore the historical village positioned on the seaside rocks. Wander along the Lovers Trail for great views of the coastline before you embark on a private evening cruise to a secluded bay for a sunset dinner accompanied by prosecco. The next day, you will travel the waters to Portovenere for a day of exploring the elegant seaside town.
You can also venture to the islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto before you turn to Monterosso. The following day, you will have a naturalist guide during your time on the trail between Monterosso and Vernazza, the neighboring town. Witness the grandeur of nature and the lush countryside. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to bask in the charm of Vernazza and the surrounding towns. Venture next to Portofino National Park to explore the trails that crisscross the wilderness as you find pistachio and strawberry trees alongside wild asparagus growing alongside the path.
Delight in the magnificent views before you settle in the luxurious town of Portofino, one of the most celebrated towns on the Italian Riviera. Relax the following day to explore the towns of Cinque Terre at your leisure before you enjoy a private cooking class with a chef eager to share the flavors and ingredients of proper Ligurian cuisine prepared with a Cinque Terre flair. To conclude, your private transfer will escort you to Genoa. If you have time, you can discover the remnants of the city’s decadent past as a maritime powerhouse before you reach the airport. You could always extend your time in Italy, venturing inland to Milan or visiting the gorgeous city of Venice.
$1920 per person (excluding international flights)
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