THE ITALIAN RIVIERA
Portofino to Portovenere, and the Cinque Terre
Portofino is one of the stars of the Italian Riviera, a beautifully preserved fishing village tucked into a perfect bay, but it is only one of the highlights of this fascinating stretch of coastline, and in this tour we combine our personal highlights of the coast line and some of the lesser known but arguably, most outstanding.
Your tour starts in Camogli and takes you along the spectacular coastline on the western edge of the Portofino National Park with vast views across the Gulf of Genoa (from here there is an extension to the tip of the point and back) before climbing up into forest and then descending to Portofino. From here there is an option to visit a beautifully restored 1000 year old abbey tucked in a tiny bay that is only accessible by water or on foot. Medieval stone stairs (used by the monks since the Middle Ages) take up through forest to the top of the national park then down through olive groves into the busy port of Santa Margherita.
From Portofino you continue a lovely path that winds above the coast passing through olive groves with views over bays and hidden villas to Santa Margherita Ligure and then on to a neighbouring busy port, picking up the pilgrim trail and entering the town over a Roman bridge that Hannibal and his elephants reputedly crossed... This extraordinary walk takes you around the waterfront before climbing a paved trail to a small church high above the coast.
From here you continue along this ancient trail, disappearing into a beautiful forest of pine, oak and centuries old chestnut trees, touching a village and then continuing on a paved trail through olive groves with expansive views. This pilgrim trail takes you past several other sanctuaries before descending down to the port of Chiarvari, and along the sea front to the neighbouring town before picking up the pilgrim trail again, climbing up into the hills and following the old paved trail until you come and a ruined church with breath-taking views down over Sestri Levante and the Bay of Silences.
Then on to the Cinque Terre you start on the Sentiero Azzuro, the celebrated path that links the five villages of the Cinque Terre. The walk weaves along cliffs and through terraces, offering spectacular views over the bays and the villages, You will pass through the five Cinque Terre villages before following the Via del Amore into the last of the five villages.
You continue your walk above the eastern part of the gulf to Portovenere. Initially, this quiet route takes you away from the coast, up to a religious sanctuary, where you can rest and enjoy the views, before continuing up through forest to a small village, where you can have lunch. From here you descend through more forest with breathtaking views over the sea into stunning Portovenere. A short boat ride across the narrow waterway that separates Portovenere from the small island opposite. You then follow a circular route that takes you through a small fishing village, past beaches and the remains of a monastery from the 11th century, with wonderful views over the Gulf of La Spezia along the way.