Beyond the Cinque Terre - Punto Mesco, Levanto and Portovenere.
Having extra time in the region meant I was able to do some extra hikes that were very quiet. Less obviously marked as well, so were very reliant on good maps and our phones. My maps.me app saved the day again!
The tracks were up in the hills away only a stones throw from the Cinque Terre villages but completely deserted in parts. And if someone did appear they were mostly locals.
Off the beaten track to Levanto.
I had two options for getting back down. One was to go the way I had been (boring), and the other was to walk further up the Ligurian Coast to the town of Levanto. The time to do both was similar so I opted for the unknown route.
This was a path that only seemed to be walked by local hiking groups. They seemed quite surprised to see me.
The paths were just as rough as the Cinque Terre ones, but the lifestyle you saw walking along was unaffected by tourists in the same way.
The way down was slightly cooler with more coverage from the afternoon sun.
Taking the lesser known route down to Levanto.
Hiking from Biassa to Portovenere.
This particular day and walk was a big part of the reason why I chose to travel light. I was going to hike 3-4 hours from my accomodation in Biassa down the coastline peninsula to Porto Venere. I wanted to to see something different and less populated.
I met up with two French-Canadian tourists in the hostel in Biassa and we all walked to Porto Venere together. It was a rugged track in parts and I was pleased to have the company as we saw no one else on it!!
There's always time for coffee in Italy.
I am normally fine walking alone except when tracks are a wee bit precarious! What was meant to be a 3-4 hour hike was actually 5 hours and we weren't mucking around.
But it was pretty amazing to see more of the coast that clearly not many others were. We saw no-one else except locals in the village we passed through that day on the top of the peninsular!
Looking down on La Spezia on one side and the Ligurian Coast on the other. The perfect coffee stop.
The rocky and slow-going walk down into Portovenere was hard-going on the feet and knees, and it was a welcome relief to finally get there.
Exploring Porto Venere.
Porto Venere is a beautiful town with a fortress of buildings as it's first line of defense against ancient marauders. And behind these a rabbit warren of alleys filled with shops, deli's, and churches.
It is a small town that is easily walked around, making it a great daytrip destination.
But staying the night there was very special. Mostly because of the light on the buildings. Sunrise in particular was stunning on the pastel coloured buildings made even softer in the subtle light.
As I walked through the backstreets at dawn, shafts of light sneaked between the tightly packed pastel-coloured buildings. Having the time to roam the streets was so relaxing.
Morning light in Porto Venere.
Cinque Terre boat trips!
I knew that seeing the Cinque Terre from the sea was a must-do experience. The weather was perfect and I thoroughly enjoyed the views up the coast from the calm sea. The round trip of walking to Porto Venere and then back by boat was an absolute treat.
Seeing the villages from the sea made me realise how little these villages are and how precariously they cling to the cliffs around them.
I caught the boat back to Vernazza for my last night in this region. I was absolutely exhausted from all the hiking. But also completely satisfied with all that I had seen and experienced.
And yet, there are so many other paths to explore and tiny villages.
The ocean perspective of the Cinque Terre.