Guest post written by Lisa R Tucci for DolceVia.com
Whenever families think of spending time on the Italian coast, they tend to think: Amalfi, or perhaps venturing over to the Cinque Terre. But Italians know that their beloved Riviera - extending from France down to Tuscany offers so much more. Pirates, poets and painters alike have made the Costa del Levante (Coast of the Rising Sun) and its counterpart, the Costa del Ponente (Coast of the Setting Sun) – basically spliced by the region’s main city, Genoa – their playground for centuries.
Following their first-ever Driving Itinerary app-book,* DolceVia.com, purveyors of all things Slow Italy Travel, your family can explore the entire region from hill town to seashore and bask in the sunlight, food and family activities that make this little frequented region such a joy.
Here are some ‘insider’ tips for visiting Liguria with your family, many of which are shared in the Slow Travel app-book:
First off, let’s talk about Cinque Terre.
These 5 seaside towns are beloved. They are also jam-packed with people in spring and summer. The best way to visit is on foot (though the trails can be busy), and they can be reached by a wonderful train that everyone loves. Hiking is blistering in the summer heat, restaurants are packed, and - newsflash - the seaside is nearly all rocks.
Our recommendation: Stay elsewhere to spread out your beach blankets, and hike there with your hearty kids or try to go in the early morning. You can also take a boat to / from some of the towns, which promises another fabulous day out. And, bring or buy some ‘swim shoes’ to venture in and out of the rocky shore.
Focaccia di Recco
This is one luscious, cheesy mess...that kids (of all ages) love. When out roaming the tiny alleyways (called ‘caruggi’) of Liguria, you’ll want to make sure you pick up some delectable, steamy hot and extra-special focaccia bread - just follow the crowds into the more popular panificio (baker’s) where you can get them by-the-slice. Coffee shops will have them, too, make sure to ask for yours to be warmed up.
Known for its Porto Antico area, where you’ll find a fabulous Aquarium, some fantastic rides, an old Pirate Ship and more. It’s a nice way to spend a few hours (though the line for the Aquarium could be as long, so be sure to reserve your spot), but Genoa has many other things to see and do – from visiting some of the old palaces (palazzi) there, to the farmer’s market, to simply roaming the streets and scoping out the fried fish vendors is a special treat, too.
On weekends, keep your eyes out for the local mercato where you can usually find great deals on food, clothing and antiques. We’ve listed some special events in the guide, but nearly every town has wonderful markets worth your while.
Liguria’s beach towns
Offer spots for the public to spread out a blanket on their sandy shoreline, or else you can take advantage of the umpteen “private” (paying) beach houses that offer beach chairs, umbrellas, usually refreshments and even some fairly decent food. Nearby, their High Streets have ample shopping and kids’ play areas and arcades abound.
Check out the walking trails (ask at your hotel or Tourist Office) or take a twilight stroll during “the blue hour” along the promenade. And a word for the weary: You will be doing a lot of walking up and down hills, so be sure to carry water and to pack comfortable footwear!
But most importantly, take it Slow...like Italians do. After all, you’re on holiday and you don’t get points for cramming in as many towns as you can. Our suggestion? Pick an area and really explore...you’ll discover more, experience local foods and wines, and your kids will meet foreign friends during a game of beach volleyball or just while frolicking in the water. And most importantly, enjoy what Italians consider the beauty of life as it unfolds.
MammaPrada readers can get 15% discount off the DolceVia SlowTravel: Liguria
Use the Discount Code MAMMAPRADA15
* 15% off SlowItaly: LIGURIA App-book
* One download per customer
* CyberMonday Special – from Nov 27 to Dec 8
*An app-book means you can download the guide to your phone or iPad, but receive regular updates when content is added or have live links to places and more while you’re traveling.