Cinque Terre February with side trips

Jan 12th, 2010, 05:54 AM
  #1  
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Cinque Terre February with side trips

We will be in Cinque Terre hiking the towns in February for 3 days. We are self trip planners and like hiking in cooler weather/off season. Any suggestions: A) I have a few hours in Portofino on the way to Cinque Terre and a few hours on way back to France to stop in either Santa Margherita or Chiavari for an hour or 2. Are those unrealistic time frames to get a taste of those areas as well. any comments/preference? B) Beyond guide book info any must see experiences or hikes in Cinque Terre we shouldnt miss? We will most likely stay in Monterrosa for convenience sake. The trip is tight and we know we will be back again! Thanks for your help!
MGardens is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:37 AM
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I would pick Chiavari, and I would try to have lunch at Luchin, which serves some of the very greatest farinata in all of the Riviera Levante -- and that's saying a lot.

If the time you plan to spend isn't the lunch hour, then indeed a walk around the central area of Chiavari doesn't take much time. You should have a strategy for parking (look at a Michelin map) and be willing to pay for it. I believe Saturday morning is the big antique market, so that defintely takes up a lot of parking and if you want to appreciate the Renaissance charm of the town, it's not the optimal moment to do it. However, if you like picking over lots and lots of vintage stuff, there's a lot of it! For a great cup of coffee, try Caffe Delfina. Anybody can point you there. They have a homemade gushy chocolate sweet wrapped in foil called a "sorrisi". They're great with coffee if you like chocolate and rum.

I think once you've seen Portofino (February is the best time to go!) you won't need to stop in Santa Margherita Ligure on your way out (you can't get in or out of Portofino without going through it). Portofino is a pin-speck of a town. Unless you want to spend hours poring over incredibly expensive (if often stylish) clothes, you don't need much time there. As hikers, you will enjoy walking up the stairs to the castle for the pretty views. There is a tiny modern art gallery on the via Roma (on the way to the parking lot) that has incredible modern Italian painting. It's about the size of a broom closet, opposite the post office. It's called Tournabuoni.

Have a great time hiking! It's been snowy this year all the way down to the shoreline on occasion. Be sensible!
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 06:49 AM
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mgardens, please come back and post a trip report here.

stepsbeyond, you are a wonderful resource.
cmcfong is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 07:03 AM
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oh, people hate me cmcfong. Don't get on their nerves!
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 07:11 AM
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Snowy?! missed that. was hoping for high 40' to mid 50 degrees f. Maybe in mid-feb? am I being unrealistic about the weather?

In Chiavari, do you think there is a chance I can pick up a corzetti pasta stamp at Franco Casoni? Sounds silly, but have a good friend who adores making pasta.

Thank you for the restaurant tip. we will be sure to visit it.
MGardens is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 07:59 AM
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I'll risk it, you have been a great help to me, stepsbeyond.
cmcfong is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 12:55 PM
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Mgardens,

Yes, it has already snowed this winter all the way down to the pebbly beaches in the Italian Riviera. It was at its worst at the solstice -- which gives me hope that it won't dip down again so low as the days get longer. However, Europe in general has gone into deep freeze this winter -- which is why you can't rule out the possibility of more snow later this year. Some of the worst snow to hit the Mediterranean coast several years back -- from Nice to Campania -- was right at the beginning of Feb.

But when the sun shines, the temps do indeed go up to levels that make hiking along the coast, and all stair climbing, a LOT more enjoyable than it is in the summer. I just don't know what to tell you, since you are paying for this trip! Last year, sunny skies in February made it possible to enjoy al fresco lunches (dressed warmly) in Santa Margherita Ligure and elsewhere by the sea. But freak cold weather is possible. It has happened before.

As for Franco Casoni's shop, I'm not sure what hours he keeps. I don't think it is silly at all. Ask around while you are in le Cinque Terre for other options. And in Chiavari too. And in Portofino! They might have them there.

I'll hope with you for pleasant climbing weather!

cmcfong,

it's like that song from Oklahoma... don't throw bouquets, etc, but thanks! Hope you enjoy exploring Italy beyond my recs.
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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Mgardens, ps:

If you do come, you are likely to have plenty of hiking company in le Cinque Terre from seasoned northern European hikers, many of them English speakers. Consult with them about recent conditions on the hiking trails and weather forecasts.
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 12th, 2010, 03:57 PM
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Thank you so much stepsbeyond & cmcfong. Your replies are very helpful. We are excited! If snow prevails then we linger longer at the local cafe!
MGardens is offline  

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