More often than not, tourists visiting Italy’s Eastern Riviera flock to Cinque Terre, a UNESCO world heritage site consisting of five different villages including Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. These famous seaside villages, seamlessly nestled into the steep hills of the surrounding landscape, are best explored by walking the hiking trails that connect them as they’re filled with jaw dropping views, wineries, quaint churches and hidden swimming spots.
Admittedly, I got swept up in the Cinque Terre “love fest” after spending four days there last year. I harbor fond memories of discovering flower petals lining the streets of Riomaggiore. I relaxed on some rocks in Corniglia under the late afternoon sun and watched local children jump into the Mediterranean. I completed the Via Dell’Amore (Walk of Love) three different times and never once with a hot Italian man, going once by myself, another time with an Estonian girl and finally with an Australian girl both whom I met at my hostel.
Last October, as part of a Travel Blogger Elevator (TBE) post conference blog trip, myself and some other travel bloggers ate and drank our way through Liguria’s lesser known villages and towns. We visited beautiful and charming spot’s along the Ligurian coast that weren’t so full of tourists and felt somehow undiscovered. It was only then that I learned that Liguria is so much more than Cinque Terre.
We started by exploring Porto Venere, a place of poetic inspiration for Lord Byron. Here we took an early morning boat ride to view the town from a different vantage point, learn more about the local fishing industry and how mussels are cultivated. Then we walked through the narrow streets observing locals going about their everyday lives. Finally, we had some cooking lessons and got to sample some of those delicious mussels for ourselves.
The following day, we headed to Varese Ligure a quiet and serene village filled with pristine medieval architecture. We had another cooking lesson there at a Michelin starred restaurant and learned about an age-old tradition where pasta was stamped with family crests or other important regional symbols.
After leaving Varese Ligure, we arrived in what is Italy’s best place to watch the sunset over the Mediterranean which is none other than Chiavari.
Our introduction to Chiavara started by checking into Hotel Monterosa which is located close to the Auditorium San Francesco.
At the hotel, I was delighted to have my own private terrace! I kicked back and enjoyed the view ensuring that my Converse made a cliched appearance into my Instagram snap.
Determined to make most of the unseasonably warm weather in Italy, I sat on the terrace for about 15 minutes resting and then immediately headed towards the sea.
Address: Via Monsignor Luigi Marinetti, 6 16043 Chiavari, Province of Genoa, Italy +39 0185 314853
Along the way, I came across these rather luxurious villas.
The skies were pretty that afternoon as dusk began its slow descent over Chiavari.
Reaching the coastline, I came upon this delightful water fountain installation which became even more enchanting against the dramatic back drop of this which is seriously the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen.
I sat there for the better part of 30 minutes as I just couldn’t stop staring and didn’t want to let go of that magical moment. But we had a hot dinner date at Lord Nelson where we’d feast upon even more wine and food!
I may or may have brought buffet pants to dinner that night.
Address: Corso Valparaiso, 25 16043 Chiavari, Province of Genoa, Italy +39 0185 302595
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* Disclosure – My time in Chiavari was complimentary, courtesy of Liguria Tourism. Any opinions expressed about my love for small town Italy and unbelievably exquisite sunsets are entirely my own.