|Explore Liguria and Tuscany||Tipps|
|Where to stay?||
Liguria: Belmond Hotel Splendido in Portofino
Tuscany: Il Bottacio in Montignoso
What to do?
visit some Italian villages in this area like;
Portofino, Lucca, Pisa, Firenz
Take a cooking class
|What to see?||Cinque Terre|
|Where to shop?||Local street markets (try some Tuscany olive oil, Balsamic from Modena, Parmesan and Ham from Parma, Toscany wine)|
|Where to relax?||
Beach Casa Mare in Liguria
Hiking in the Toscany Hills in Montignoso
|Where to eat?||
Belmond Splendido in Portofino
Il Panigacci in Montignoso
Portofino, a small Italian fishing village in the province of Genoa. Known for it’s picturesque harbor and colorful painted buildings. We had a nice Lunch at the Belmond Hotel Splendido, where you have an amazing view down to the harbor. It’s such a pretty little village with a lot of Italian charm, I love it!
View from the Belmond Hotel Splendido
These five small villages and the surrounding hillsides are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, you can also reach them by car, what we did, but it will take some time. The roads through the national forrest are narrow with a lot of curves and the parking possibilities at the villages are limited or too far away so you have to walk a bit. Our advice to explore this area the best, take the train or if you have the time hike from village to village. So you don't have to spend the whole day in the car driving around.
It took us one day to see 4 of the villages. And if you’re there you really want to know how the life was like a few years back when it was not crowded by tourists. Impressive, how the people carefully built up the village on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea, where the waves hit the shore with such an immense power!
Riomaggiore and Manarola
View to Manarola and Corniglia
After our last eventful days, it was time to relax. So our time in Tuscany came just right. We spend three nights in the Il Bottaccio in Montignoso. A Relais & Châteaux house, that was sure. With an excellent Italian cuisine, delightful ambience, nice wellness area in a great location on the hillside of Forte dei Marmi. This 17th century oil mill was converted to a beautiful elegant country house. Our standard double room, which was huge had an amazing bath tiled in black and white marble, we even had a small open fireplace. The house only has 8 rooms/suites in the main building but some more in the new detached part.
The garden where we had afternoon tea and breakfast was beautiful and carefully maintained. You can see the love in every detail. A small creek and beautiful marble sculptures, palm trees, all kind of different flowers gave it such nice ambiance.
The location of this property is very good, just perfect for a day trip to Lucca, Firenze, Pisa, Siena or La Spezia. The Mediterranean sea and the tuscany hillside are even closer and you also have a lot of other different possibilities to explore the region. Take a horse trekking tour, visit the Marble Quarriers of Carrara, take a wine tasting tour, play tennis or golf. You can even take a cooking class, which I took advantage of, to learn more about the Italian cuisine. It was such a nice experience and I love to learn about traditions of every culture even if it’s just about cooking.
Talking about traditional cooking, we found a small restaurant nearby which is known for the typical dish from Massa Carrara and La Spezia. Panigacci, which is a flatbread cooked in a clay bowl under very strong heat. (up to 400°C) Still hot, the Panigaccis get covered in different specialities. Salami, Pesto, Gorgonzola, Tomato Fungi Sauce, Parmesan, whatever you want. You can also have them served cold with a variation of ham, cheese or even as dessert with a Nutella dip.
Luigi, the owner and chef of the restaurant was so nice to show us the process. We came once more for dinner with our friends who came to visit us for one day. And even them, as Italians were very enthusiastic of this special dish they never heard before. We had a good time in Italy and to have still a bit more of it at home, we bought a punch of regional products.
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You need time to see all the beautiful sights in this area. You probably need one day per village to really enjoy the atmosphere and feeling of the magificent places. Plan your visit between the holiday seasons to avoid mass tourism.
Ciao Italy, until next time!