Published: June 22nd 2011May 30th 2011
The road spirals down off the A7 leading us to the quaint Italian village of Bordighera. Located just over the French border and on the Italian Riviera, Hotel Piccolo Lido will be our base for the next few days.
Once again our timing is impeccable and our arrival has coincided with the Monaco F1 Grand Prix and the prices are increasing to meet the demand. Fortunately we have been able to secure excellent accommodation in a great location at a very reasonable rate.
Hotel Piccolo Lido is located, virtually, on a pebbly beach, the weather is extremely kind to us and the clear azure Mediterranean lours us to test its tempting waters. Yep, still bloody cold.
There is something to be said about eating pizza in Italy and yet again we will not be disappointed. Overall the food is of excellent quality and plenty of it.
A short and inexpensive train trip finds us at Monaco – Monte Carlo and we are overawed by the hustle and bustle created by the presence of this year’s Formula 1. One the main events of the F1 calendar, Monaco is awash with the colours of the individual teams and probably
none more so than Ferrari. We climb up to the Palace, with a spectacular view and a vantage place comes available just as one of the practice sessions begin, the noise from the engines is deafening and Michelle is taken by surprise with the raw energy and power that is generated. A month later she comments that she can still hear the screeching whine of these powerful machines.
Unfortunately with the F1 comes the drawback that we cannot venture around Monaco as freely as we would have liked and were unable to explore that much of this beautiful city/country.
Monaco is the world’s second smallest country, next to the Vatican City, boasting the highest life expectancy, lowest unemployment and most densely populated country in the world.
We make our way back to Bordighera and decide to take that plunge into the inviting waters. Brrrrrrrrr.
From Bordighera we follow the coast, further south, to the region and National Park area of the Cinque Terre or Five Lands. This is a truly spectacular piece of earth and we are so very fortunate to be able to spend some time here and explore some of this man made wonder.
For centuries the local inhabitants toiled to create this world class splendour. With the weekend upon us and the increase in tourists we find in difficult to find reasonably priced accommodation within the direct area and opt at staying in a lovely place about ten minutes out of Levanto and recognised as one of the gateways to the National Park.
From Levanto we are able to purchase a Day ticket that enables us access to the national park paths, village lifts and trains, definitely worth the money.
Making up the Five Lands is Riomaggiore (the furthest southern town), Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterossa. Precariously perched on the Mediterranean surrounded cliffs and linked by coastal pathways, this area has a strong tourist presence (this is our first real encounter with other Australians since we left Bali). We are reliably informed that the tourist season has yet to start; well this is one place that won’t need to fear a downturn.
We spend a day wondering around Levanto and organise a day in the Cinque Terre. One can only imagine how the locals must fare during the winter months as the area looks unforgiving and rather hostile, yet in
the spring and summer the area comes alive with trekkers and day trippers, lush grape vines are starting to bud, we are mesmerised by its beauty.
If we were to return I would make a point of trying to organise accommodation in the small seaside village of Bonassola, the next train stop north of Levanto. We spent an afternoon swimming and lazing on the beach with its crystal clear inlet. It was quite pleasant, sipping on a glass of local white wine and enjoying some of the fresh seafood caught in the surrounding waters.
It is now time to move on to Venice and another jaw dropping sceptical altogether.
There are more photos below