We decided to take a leisurely day trip from Cinque Terre to the Italian Riveria port towns of Santa Margherita and Portofino.
After a short train ride, we arrived in Santa Margherita on a beautiful spring day. What a lovely town – and clearly full of old Italian aristocracy and money! The homes along the hillside overlooking the bay were simply incredible.
We walked all over the city and explored the Villa Durazzo and Durazzo Park perched above the city streets. The park has the most amazing Italian garden with a great collection of palm trees from around the world.
Unfortunately, the Church of San Giacomo, a lavish church from the Genovese free trade days (11th-15th century), was closed for restoration.
After a lovely lunch of the best pizza yet, we took a bus to Portofino, another amazing little port town founded by the Romans due to its safe harbor. It was made famous in the 50s by American Hollywood celebrities. In fact, many say Greta Garbo swam naked in this harbor!
It was time to catch the bus back to Santa Margherita when we noticed a swarm of German tourists heading toward the bus stop full of waiting patrons. Clearly their tour guide realized there was no way they would fit on the one bus headed our direction. Clearly we were wrong. Have you ever gone to the circus and seen too many clowns piling into a car? Without offending my German heritage, we experienced first hand just how many Krauts can fit onto an Italian bus! Think sardines in a can...and then add ten more ripe ones! Craziest and most crowded bus ride we'll likely ever experience!
Once back at the picturesque Monterosso, we cataloged all the photos so far from our trip (while we still remember each of these great stops)! Then we dined at a wonderful local Trattoria. The menu tonight included ravioli with fresh pesto and spaghetti with seafood (clams, mussels, prawns). Fantastico!
It will be difficult to leave this wonderful area. We loved our hotel and its owners. Emanuela and her family have been so gracious. If you ever find yourself in the Cinque Terre, you must include Monterosso on your visit and stay at Hotel Pasquale at the base of old town.
Tomorrow, we're off to Florence with a quick stop in Pisa and the obligatory holding-up-the-tower photo! Ciao!