Bella Italia

Mary Smyth
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‘Local small ferries to every tiny port and great train connections made every day an adventure.’

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Hiking was a major element of the trip and we had done quite a bit of research in advance of our travel.

This coastline of Liguria boasted many great hiking locations in addition to the Cinque Terre, including the Portofino National Park system, and many communities in the area with their own trails dating back centuries.

So we had enough to explore, we were pumped.  But often it’s not until you get to a region that news of local events can really change your plans.

Landslides from heavy spring rain had forced the closure of most of the lower trails, called the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail) of the Cinque Terre, but the good news was that the higher trails or the Sentiero Rosso (Red Trail) were all opened. We breathed a sigh of relief. Although the red trails are definitely more challenging.

Great hiking options were one thing, but when we found out we could combine different travel experiences in one day things looked even better.

The transportation networks were nothing short of amazing. This coastline of Italy just south of Genoa is famous for its fishery as well as grapes and olives.

Local small ferries to every tiny port and great train connections made every day an adventure. We never did the same trip twice.

We travelled by train almost daily, took ferries from tiny hamlet to tiny hamlet. Our last hike started with a cable car (funivia) in Rappallo to the spectacular mountain sanctuary of Montallegro and we walked, (all gloriously downhill) along the spine of the Northern Appenines to our house, a mere three hour walk away.

One cannot go to Italy and not talk about the food.

Having our own kitchen garden here at home we really appreciate the flavours of fresh grown food.

In Chiavari the idea of takeout or fast food have very different meanings. We bought fresh and cooked whatever was in season, lucky for us harvest of many fruits and vegetables was already in full swing and the daily markets were a treat.

Seafood is a specialty of the region, as most coastal communities declare; we were there for the anchovy harvest.

I usually leave them off my pizza, but having eaten them fresh in a number of recipes I think my opinion has changed forever. We also got some first-hand culinary tips as we were treated to a cooking demonstration by two Italian chefs!  

One of the fun things I got to do at mealtime when the house was full of hungry guests was use my favourite Italian phrase: tutti a tavola a mangiare!

And if I could use that sentiment to refer to the whole trip: everyone go to Italy and enjoy.

Organizations: Bella Italia

Geographic location: Italy, Chiavari, Liguria Portofino National Park Genoa Rappallo

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