Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino (Italy)

The rest of our time in SML was spent eating…

Actually, that’s not entirely true. We just did things that don’t really warrant pictures, like lounging around on the rooftop pool, reading outside on our balcony, and playing Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing (but not for too long bc we didn’t have a way to charge the battery).

The duomo of SML wasn’t a recommended sightseeing spot, but the Lion and I went in on a whim one day and found one of the most ornate cathedrals we’ve seen on this trip. The basilica of Santa Margherita d’Antiochia, was built in 1658 on top of remnants of a 13th century church. The inside was quite magnificent, with crystal chandeliers and columns, walls, and ceilings lined with gold. It really took our breaths away when we walked in!

The day we had to leave SML, we took a cab ride over to Portofino, the wealthy city-next-door to SML. Portofino is a fishing village, but the natives have really taken advantage of their location and turned the place into a luxury resort for the rich and famous.

We walked up to see Castello Brown, a castle that was built in the 15th century and used for various military purposes. In the 1860s, an English consul named Montague Yeats Brown purchased the castle and turned it into a villa. Then, in the 1949, Brown’s descendants sold it to another English couple, who then sold it to the city of Portofino a couple decades later in the early 1960s. The view of the harbor was beautiful from up top, but we didn’t get to see inside the castle because it turned out there was an admission fee…

Just before we had to head back to SML to go to the airport, we stopped by Divo Martino (partly to see this recommended sight but also to catch a break from the sun), a 12th century church built for St Martin. See pic here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ltangelini/2330481704/

Last but not least: Four-seasons pizza with olives, artichokes, ham, mushrooms with a drizzled of spiced evoo… Awes.

Cinque Terre (Italy)

By the time we finished at Lucca, we were heatstroke’d and passed out all the way to Santa Margherita Ligure. I woke up to find this beautiful view:

We were staying at a Best Western in SML, but it was unlike what I imagined a BW to look like! I mean sure, the internet wasn’t great and neither was the AC, and the overall decor and atmosphere was at least a full star below what we stayed at in Florence, but the seaview really made up for it!!

The next day, we set off for Cinque Terre with the intention of starting our hike at Corniglia (pictured above) and hiking through Vernazza to Monterosso. It was a good, optimistic, intention. The weather was not kind, and I believe it was at least 85 when we started our hike in the am and slowly increased to about 95+ when we were hiking. Furthermore, I hadn’t anticipated such a hike with dirt, rocks, uneven terrain, relentless sun, and so did not pack adequately. Oh, and we only had one 20oz bottle of water each…

Luckily, there was a little rest stop halfway from Corniglia to Vernazza that offered free water, and we took a rest there, fully appreciating and accepting the kindness and generosity of the host and his sweet kitty. Water has never tasted so good…

We eventually made it to Vernazza (not without a few complaints and curse words from me) and stopped for a quick lunch. Unfort, all the restaurants there that we could find were pretty touristy, but it was still a tasty meal, what with mussels and caprese and such.

We decided to take the easy way out to get to Monterosso: by ferry. I think we spent probably a total of one hour in Monterosso, forty of them waiting for a delayed train back to the hotel, which explains the lack of pix/interesting things to say about it. Honestly, I don’t know much about Cinque Terre and whether it has anything to offer aside from the hiking trails and the views… Does it have any historical significance or sights? Specialty foods??

In short, the three terre that we saw were indeed charming, and the views from the hike were breathtaking, but I think that sort of activity and those views would be better enjoyed in the spring or autumn, before/after the heatwave. Cinque Terre was a part of the trip that I was expecting to be the highlight, but little did I know, the best part of the trip (so far) was yet to come…