The Cinque Terre, Portofino and eastern Liguria: enduring charm

Here is the “Liguria di Levante”, eastern Liguria, bashful, sunny, caressed by a sea that has carved cosy inlets and craggy buttresses into the jagged coastline.

It’s hard to imagine how the charm of these places couldn’t have worked its spell on the spirit and imagination of poets and thinkers. From those who were born here – like Eugenio Montale, adoptive son of the Cinque Terre – to those who made it their second home. A romantic trail that is replete with literary references, especially in the “Gulf of Poets”, between Portovenere and Lerici.

Cinque Terre A strip of rugged coast not far from La Spezia, studded with minute, pastel-painted villages. Coming from Genoa, the doorway to this ancient little world is Monterosso, which possesses the only sand beach in the area and a handsome crucifix by Van Dyck in the Church of San Francesco. Then come Vernazza, with its laughing harbour; lofty Corniglia, once fortified; Manarola, which seems to slip gently into the sea; and Riomaggiore, which at sunset, once the throngs have left, regains its jealously guarded silences and mysteries.

Portofino The famous “Piazzetta”, delimited by the little houses, slopes down and ends in the water of the harbour. To this day, sailors still draw boats out of the water upon it as if upon the edge of a beach. All around and under the pointed-arched porticos, along the quay and the Pier, the boutiques, the shops, the American bars, and the restaurants act as a frame.