One Week in the Italian Riviera!
If you're looking for a romantic, low-key honeymoon getaway, look no further than the colorful cliffside beaches of the Italian Riviera. From Cinque Terre's quaint little villages to the posh boutique-front beaches of Portofino, there's a good amount to see but not too much to the point that you don't have time to sit and enjoy a glass of wine.
Following a jam-packed week and a half through Paris, Provence and the Cote d'Azur, my new hubby and I were sufficiently wiped out. We needed a vacation from our vacation. You know the feeling when you just can't stand in a two-hour line for a museum anymore? Yeah, that's where we were at.
Thankfully, we had planned our trip accordingly with some down time in a more relaxed part of the Italian Riviera, Santa Margherita, a port in the southeast region of Genoa. We stayed at the Lido Palace, conveniently located right across from the water. One of the best parts about this section of Italy is that really no matter where you go, you're surrounded by water. All through town, there's shops, wineries, and restaurants that each have their own amazing view of the bay.
We stumbled upon a lovely restaurant, DuCoq with fresh seafood and a charming candlelit garden. The food was terrific and the atmosphere was so romantic, we'd definitely recommend it to any couple traveling to the area. Santa Margherita is an ideal place to stay in as it's a short train or boat ride to Cinque Terre and Portofino, and the town itself has a lot to offer by way of restaurants and hotels.
We took the train to Cinque Terre, or 'five towns', the centuries-old seaside villages that have become quite the destination for tourists. Each town has a similar vibe - colorful cliffside structures that seem to be built right on top of each other and umbrella lined beaches with swimmers wading through the turquoise waters to escape the summer heat, while the smell of sunscreen and seawater fills the air. It's like your own little piece of paradise!
Cinque Terre is connected by paths, railways and boats, there's multiple ways to get to the area, but the Trenitalia is probably the easiest way to travel between each village. If you have the time, I'd recommend visiting the area over a couple of days. We spent the majority of the day training from town to town, but we were only able to make it to three of the five towns: Monterosso, Riomaggiore, and Vernazza.
Though each part of the Riviera had it's own unique beauty, Portofino was perhaps my favorite part of the entire week. A tucked-away playground for the yacht-hopping rich and famous, Portofino's intimately sized town center and brightly colored buildings make you feel like you've just stumbled into an off-the-beaten path village. The cobble stone paths and boutiques with antique-dressed windowshades transport you to another time. Look closely though and you'll see the stores are owned by some of the biggest names in fashion - Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, etc.
The main beach area is very secluded, you have to park in town and walk down to access it, allowing for a more intimate setting. There's lounges for rent and a little bar right on the sand, as well as restaurants and souvenir shops surrounding the area when you need a break from sun-tanning. In the next cove, a small hut built into the cliff offers snorkels, kayaks, and the like to rent. The water here is so still and clear you'd swear you were on a deserted island if it weren't for the gigantic boats anchored just around the corner. This is definitely one of the most romantic and luxurious places to visit in the Italian Riviera.