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Italian Riveria - Monterosso vs. Santa Margarita

Italian Riveria - Monterosso vs. Santa Margarita

Old May 2nd, 2010, 02:36 PM
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Italian Riveria - Monterosso vs. Santa Margarita

I am traveling with one of my girlfriends in September to the Italian Riveria and I'd like to get some additional thoughts on the differences between Monterosso and Santa Marg. We are in our early 30s, looking for good beaches with the possibility of some relaxation AND some energy. We've heard Monterosso is good for a young crowd but how does this compare to Santa Marg? We have three nights in the Italian Riveria and will probably split up the stay between the two areas - but are trying to determine the vibe of each area and beach before booking. thanks for your thoughts!
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Old May 2nd, 2010, 06:28 PM
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SML is much more upscale and is an hour away from the CT. At your age I would do Monterosso and take the ferry along that coast as far south as Portovenere.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 04:05 AM
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I'm not sure you should split your locations. They are an hour apart by train. Decide which one you want for a day trip, and where you want to spend your nights.

Santa Margherita Ligure is sometimes jokingly called "the port of Milan", because in summer, the town fills up with young and stylish Milanese. It's their spot to go. The hotels also reflect this, some having a bit of designer flair. I'm not sure where and if they go dancing, but there are clubs around the area, and of course wine bars.

Monterosso al Mare, and all the le Cinque Terre towns, are the preserve of foreign tourists, most of them American, with a fair sprinkling of European trekkers. They are often filled -- even mobbed -- with American families, American retirees and honeymoon couples. And lots of Rick Steves followers. If there is more of a "scene" in Monterosso, it is a tourist scene.

You haven't said what time of year you are going and whether hiking or swimming is a big priority for you. If you are going between May and September and want to do some rigourous hiking in le Cinque Terre and no place else, you should stay in Monterosso so you can get an early start on the trails. They are blazing hot as the sun climbs the sky.

There is also beautiful hiking in the Monte Portofino, right next to Santa Margherita Ligure, which also requires an early start but is infinitely less crowded in le Cinque Terre.

Both towns are equally relaxing, but in general, if you really want the quaint and picturesque, tiny rustic towns clinging to the dramatic vinyard-terraced cliffs, mostly untouched by modernity, that is le Cinque Terre.

If you like to do things and bop around a bit, Santa Margherita Ligure is a very pretty Riviera town that has wonderful boat trips to coves and abbeys, the picturesque town of Camogli, the tourist mecca of Portofino -- I would even take a boat to Rapallo just to eat gelato at Frigidarium -- plus its only 15 minutes to Chiavari if you want a sweet Renaissance town that's well protected from the rain, or into Genova or Nervi for other rainy day excursions.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 04:09 AM
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TYPO ALERT! In case it wasn't clear, the hiking trails are far LESS crowded near Santa Margherita Ligure.

I would say the difference in beaches is minimal. Santa Margherita Ligure may have a slightly larger area of public beach.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 04:10 AM
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Zeppole knows her stuff! I would also caution you not to split up three days into two locations. I stayed not long ago in SML and thought it was lovely and, as Z mentions, there is great walking nearby. You can walk, for example, to Paraggi which seemed to have an upscale beach vibe...see map for more details:

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