The Gulf of La Spezia is a perfect amphitheatre; the bay is also known as the Gulf of Poets and even nowadays it continues to attract and inspire men of letters and writers. The village of Portovenere , guarded by two small islands, is located to the west; further on is the Tramonti district, the gateway to the five hamlets appropriately called the Cinque Terre. The township of Lerici is located to the east on the opposite side of the bay. Lerici boasts a medieval castle with an unforgettable view over the bay; nearby is the headland of Montemarcello, a scenic promontory with several attractive miniature inlets.
This striking, sea-faring village is unique of its kind in Liguria : the Doria quay is hemmed in by a number of tower-like houses which effectively turn the harbour into a fortified citadel. The islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto are locadet just off the mainland.
The township, which dates back to Roman times, is overshadowed by a medieval castle now converted into a magnificent palaeontological museum. There are several striking villas in the area and the picturesque old township is surrounded by gardens and sunlit beaches.
Le Cinque Terre
The five hamlets of the Cinque Terre are located on the west coast of the Riviera ; the villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore either cling to the cliff face or are concealed in miniature inlets perfectly blending in to this unique and unspoilt landscape. The area has been turned into a National Park. Monterosso is renowned for the unspoilt architecture of the medieval centre, now a thriving cultural centre, with pleasant beaches for more mundane holidaymakers. The topography of Vernazza is outstanding: tower-like buildings flank the narrow alleyways leading down to the anchorage which is set in a fairy-tale bay. The medieval hamlets of Manarola, perched on a rock outcrop, and Riomaggiore are linked by a footpath cut out of the sheer rock just a stone thrown away from the sea; this romantic pathway called Via dell'Amore is dedicated to lovers.
Capraia and Gorgogna
The Islands of Capraia and Gorgogna are part of the National Park of the Tuscan Archipelago, an unspoilt area of sun baked cliffs and exotic vegetation plunged into the blue Mediterranean Sea . Capraia counts only a handful of inhabitants dwelling in the tiny village built around the harbour. The rest of the island, like the even wilder Isle of Gorgogna further north, is a wildness of cliffs plummeting into the sea, caves and inlets; the landscape is peppered with extinct craters and the occasional abandoned watch towers.
The greater portion of the Promontory of Portofino, including the surrounding coastline and seabed, have been turned into a Natural Park , one of the most important in the upper Tyrrhenian Sea . The ancient fishing village of Portofino is stunningly located at the western tip of the Golfo del Tigullio while the ancient Benedictine abbey of San Fruttuoso is located in a small bay which also houses the celebrated 'Christ of the Deep' a statue resting on the seabed 15 metres below the surface.
Moneglia e Levanto
The coastline between Moneglia and Levanto is a patchwork of unspoilt headlands and tiny inlets with crystal clear waters. The ancient, sea-faring villages of Moneglia, Deiva Marina, Framura, Bonassola and especially Levanto are set among multicoloured rocks and the town architecture dates back to the Middle Ages if not earlier.
The Versilia coastline provides the ideal setting for a family holiday. Its celebrated beaches surrounded by fragrant pinewoods of Marina di Carrara, Marina di Massa, Forte dei Marmi and Viareggio are very popular summer resorts which boast numerous smart hotels, private homes and historical buildings. In the background the awesome Apuan Alps stand stark against the skyline, the ancient marble quarries glittering white in the sunshine.
Tuscan cities to visit: Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Firenze