Scary roads but stunning views, Cinque Terres and Portofino

Avoiding the autoroutes as we left our campsite at Figline Valdarno and took the smaller roads passing through the beautiful countryside towards the Cinque Terres.

As the route passed through Pisa and it was time for coffee we stopped and had a walk around the leaning tower,

and yes its still leaning! Finding the only cafe in the shade was our mistake. The most awful cappuccino I have ever been served, and actually could not drink.

At some point we had to join the autoroute for a while coming of at La Spezia, and that’s when the fun began! The narrow roads got narrower, and bendier and scarier as we progressed. Turning off onto what was just a narrow path of tarmac we wondered whether the sat nav had gone mad, but no, there actually was no other way. So a couple of miles of panic in case we met another car coming the other way ensued. We did find a chap working on his garden and asked if we were on the right road, after a fun few minutes I showed him the address of the accommodation, a number of oohs and Aahs and he pointed along the road we were travelling! The his wife came out and said ‘one minute, three roads, not the middle, not the right, the left then straight’. So after lots of ‘gratsies’ we continued, and she was right, we got back onto a slightly wider road.

Eventually after many scary episodes of cars either speeding past us or nearly hitting us coming the other way we found ourselves in the town of Riomagiore. Barriers at each of the roads we were not sure what to do. I found a shop and asked where Il Borgo Di Campo was to be found, she told me that we had to go back up to the top of the cliff and it was further on, ‘after the first tunnel, before the second’. And right enough, it was, right there on the roadside.

Now in between the wrong roads, scary episodes and finding our way,

the scenery was jaw-droppingly beautiful

and incurring the wrath of Amr I kept telling him to stop so I could take pictures of the scenery and for him to be able to appreciate it, as he couldn’t look at anything but the road.

Eventually we found our accommodation for the night. To be honest you wouldn’t even know it was there. Our room was accessed by descending 100 steps,

with the most stupendous views it took quite a while to get to it. We even had our own little garden,

full of olive trees with views of the sea, perfect!

Not wishing to battle the roads again and certainly not at night we booked a table at the restaurant and revised our plans for the following day.

Initially we had thought to saunter through the Cinque Terre villages and reach Rapallo by the end of the day. My nerves however could not take eighty miles of these roads. So we decided to retrace our route back to the autoroute and head straight to Portafino to spend the rest of the day before heading to out B&B for the night in Rapallo.

As we were driving through Rapallo we decided to try and find the Villa Mares where we were staying and leave the car and take the ferry to Portafino. However, the sat nav took us to a dead end. Apple maps took us round a route wide enough just for the car, which also ended in a dead end! By this time Amr was all for checking into a ‘proper hotel’ and abandoning the search. Adamant we would find it and not prepared to lose the cost of the night already paid, I checked the map and we found a tiny road at the side of the petrol station, and although we managed to drive past it twice we eventually managed to find the place.

By this time Amr decided we would be better to drive to Portafino as the last ferry left Portafino at 6pm and we didn’t want to miss it.

The drive along the sea towards Portafino was beautiful, and we were soon at our destination, and found a place to park. What a beautiful little place it is.

Stunning views, Chico shops and restaurants,

not too many people even though there was a cruise ship offloading its passengers by tender.

Very upmarket, we wandered around, climbed up to the church and took in the views. The restaurants were all in the sun, and quite expensive when we weren’t feeling particularly hungry, so we had a quick bite from the takeaway and headed back to Rapallo.

This time we found the accommodation easily, checked in and our room is an absolute delight with a whole patio to ourselves, laden with drinks, snacks and fruit as a welcome.

After relaxing a while we headed down into the town on foot,

and wandered the seafront

and lanes

until the first restaurant opened

and had a good meal, best pizza i think i have eaten in Italy,

before heading back up the hill for a well earned rest.

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