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Ligurian Coast & Lake Como: Moscardini, Missoltini and Much Else

Ligurian Coast & Lake Como: Moscardini, Missoltini and Much Else

Old Oct 17th, 2008, 06:58 AM
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Here are a few pics of the Osteria No. 7:



http://www.liguriaplanet.com/web/ita..._trattoria.htm
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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Oh no! I have been waiting for the SML segment of your trip since I am familiar with the town. I haven't heard of that restaurant and I am so sorry it had frozen fish! I remember on the menus that some dishes used frozen but mostly there were fresh fish. I was thinking it may be the time of year but it is exactly the time of when I was there last year. Maybe a bad fish harvest this year? If there is such a thing, lol.

Oh, I hope your dining experiences get better in my cute little SML, I had so many good meals there.

Your hotel room sounds lovely. We stayed inland in town for our limited expenses but when I return I think I will choose your hotel. Thanks for the room number too!
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 02:04 PM
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We had excellent fresh fish at Trattoria Biacin in SML as well as wonderful Ligurian pasta dishes and ate there twice.
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 02:33 PM
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SeaUrchin: Don't worry. That was the only real misstep on the dining front in 10 days! And it was not bad, by any means...

I wonder if most people are aware about the meaning of the * on Italian menus...

Happy: I did see BAIcin and it looked like a nice place. It is right in the heart of the port area and seemed to be popular with locals and tourists. Did you write a report about your trip?
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 02:40 PM
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I thought more about what I just wrote. The Osteria No. 7 waw not at all bad..it was my mistake in selecting the frozen seafood. The soups and pasta were very good.
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Old Oct 17th, 2008, 03:00 PM
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EK--I am looking forward to more of your excellent report on two of my favorite areas of Italy!
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Old Oct 20th, 2008, 04:47 AM
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Thanks, I will get busy on this very soon..more on the walk to Paraggi and Berlusconi's castle, and a great dinner in SML..



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Old Oct 20th, 2008, 04:49 AM
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..and to whet your appetite, here is a photo of Paraggi, courtesy of Steve James. We will be there soon!



http://www.bagnifiore.it/img/sez_pho...ggi3_large.jpg



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Old Oct 20th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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After lunch I had my first swim in the wonderful salt-water pool at the Grand Miramare. Terrific! And then it was time for a walk. The Portofino peninsula offers excellent opportunities for strollers and hikers, with trails of varying difficulties. One of the prettiest walks is the one from SML south to Portofino, on a wide sidewalk above the sea that lines the road for most of the way. It was a bit cloudy with rain threatening when we set off on this walkway. We passed spectacular private villas and gardens and, nearing Paraggi, the cliff-top castle belonging to Berlusconi (or so we were told by several locals). It began to drizzle by the time we reached Paraggi, a tiny hamlet with a film-worthy crescent of white sand lapped by turquoise water. There appear to be two hotels here and, despite the rather sullen demeanor of the woman at the front desk, we had a tour of the public areas of the Hotel Paraggi; see the photos of the beach in their link.

http://www.hotelparaggi.it/

Paraggi is connected by frequent bus service to both Portofino and to SML so it might be a good base for people seeking a beach vacation. There appear to be two restaurants, a small alimentary (that also sells bus tickets) and at least one small hotel in addition to the Hotel Paraggi.

From there, we caught the bus back to SML; the ride takes about 10 minutes. Another stroll through this very pretty town led us behind the tourist-oriented shops lining the sea to the main square and the maze of pedestrian streets radiating out from there. We peeked into many enticing food shops and even found some shops selling well-priced women’s clothing. (Although this is probably of interest to no one but me, I bought a pair of gray jeans for 34 Euro at Lemon e Soda, Via Palestro, #32). While the shops fronting the harbor offer wares oriented to tourists and passengers from the cruise ships that call at the town, the streets in the central core teem with locals out and about on their daily rounds.)

And then it was dinner time, so we headed for La Paranza, located just a couple of minutes walk from the hotel on Via J. Ruffini, #46:

http://www.liguriaplanet.com/web/ita...ristorante.htm


La Paranza proved to be an excellent choice. The old travel posters lining the walls of one of the dining rooms are reason alone to visit this place!

I began my dinner with an excellent rendition of the local Trofie al Pesto. For my main course, (yes, again), grilled scampi. Superb! My friends shared a whole orata baked in salt; they were also thrilled. For dessert, a house-made apple cake. With water and a carafe each of house red and white wine, the total here came to 44 Euro per person. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

We turned in early, excited about our next day’s planned driving excursion to Portovenere and points beyond.

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Old Oct 20th, 2008, 06:51 AM
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Oh, it looks idyllic !
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Old Oct 20th, 2008, 01:22 PM
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Caroline: You need to seriously think about a visit to Camogli!

Here is a bit more:

We left the hotel the next morning at 9:45, (Spotting many free parking places on the street, we decided to forego the hotel garage and keep our car on the street for the next two nights; more on this later) bound for the autostrada and Portovenere. It was an easy drive, although we got a bit confused at the exit and had to drive through palm-lined La Spezia, which looked surprisingly pleasant for a city which is Italy’s chief naval base and a large commercial port.

Portovenere, at the end of a rocky peninsula and surrounded on three sides by the sea, dazzles the eye with its pastel-painted Ligurian houses and massive stone castle. The trouble is that the town is a big daytrip destination for cruise passengers and it was quite jammed with tourists during the hours we were there. I suspect that I would have had an entirely different feeling about the place had I spent a night there. (Maybe my reaction to Portovenere is akin to that of people who shun Amalfi having only visited on a daytrip)

As it was, the beauty was a bit overwhelmed by all of the people cramming the main street and hiking up to see the dramatic views toward the Cinque Terre and out to sea from the castle. I ended up buying a few bags of corzetti (typical Ligurian disc-shaped pasta; stamped with the coat of arms of the town)


http://www.babbonyc.com/images/food/corzetti-360.jpg

and chatting with the vendor who told me that most of the tourists who visit the town are American, (I can’t vouch for this, it was what this guy related to me) and that the residential condo-yacht, The World, had been in port a few days before.

If you do plan to spend a day here, I would advise arriving early. There seem to be plenty of places to park, and we even found a free space along the road, but by the time we left about 1pm the parking lots were jammed. Wanting to press on, we passed up an inviting-looking restaurant on the main street (not along the seafront) called Osteria del Carugio, intending to stop at a SlowFood place between Portovenere and La Spezia. By the time we arrived it was close to 2pm and the place was tightly shut, even though it was not the closing day noted in the Osterie d’Italia guide. Panic immediately set in, as we contemplated the thought of missing lunch, or having to settle for someplace mediocre! What to do? Try to make it into the center of La Spezia and risk finding that the lunch hour had ended by the time we found a suitable place? The pressure was on! Driving toward La Spezia, we noticed a small trattoria opposite a naval installation, and decided to give it a try.

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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 02:46 AM
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ekscruncy, I am still following your report with great interest. We have finally decided as of today to spend our final week in Liguria. So now the research begins in earnest, but of course I don't really need to do too much if I just follow your fantastic report.

A question please, we have seven nights, how would you split the seven nights? 3/4 or 4/3 if we follow in your footsteps.

Why did you rent a car for the second half of the trip. Should we rent a car from the beginning, is there lots to see away from the coast that we would need a car for. Or can we get around easily by public transport? Any transport help would be great, thanks.

Schnauzer
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 03:17 AM
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Schnauzer: We rented a car because we were headed for Lake Como after SML. But there are excellent bus and train connections in both Camogli and SML. You could do, for example, a day trip to the Cinque Terre (We did not go there, however) or to Genoa, or to many other places.

Since we were renting the car anyway, to go to the Lake Como area, we picked it up a few days earlier to give us the freedom to do the exploring on the day that I am currently writing about. And after lunch on that day, we wanted to head for Tellaro and Montemarcello, which I don't think you could do so easily by public transport..

If you will be there for a week and will not be moving on from there, you could certainly do without a car. I think many posters here have done that..

I am so glad you are enjoying the report..I will get busy with the next part soon..meanwhile fell free to ask any questions and I will try to give that might help in planning your trip..

Before the trip I vacillated endlessly about whether to stay in Camogli or SML and, finally, split the trip into 3 days in each because I could not make up my mind. While this may have seemed silly to some people, we were glad that we did this. Now, having been to both places, I am not even sure which one I would recommend for someone wanting to choose only one spot. Certainly if your object is to relax, do some swimming, and walking, I think Camogli is more charming. The lack of cars there is a big plus for the ambience.

But SML has a lot to offer, including a larger choice of hotels, and those wonderful walks to Paraggi and Portofino... Both places have plenty of places to eat but SML has more shopping opportunities.

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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 03:32 AM
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More great stuff, eks. I think you are right, we need to go to Camogli ! Since - if we get a holiday at all next year - we'll be starting with a week in Venice, I had a quick look at train times between Venice & Camogli & was surprised to finds it takes 5-6 hours ! So maybe not the ideal combination in a Biennale year - but I really hope we get there some time. Although I still want to revisit Naples & the Amalfi Coast and do everything do did
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 03:38 AM
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Caroline: That sounds long! What about checking trains from Venice to Genoa....or Venice to Santa Margherita Ligure? From those you can easily get to Camogli..

I am enjoying the report of your travels as well!
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 06:35 AM
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TRATTORIA DELL ACQUASANTA
Via Caporacca, #20 (just off the Portovenere-LaSpezia road)

This is a local trattoria that was filled with local working people and students during lunchtime. The menu offers a range of Ligurian specialties. Two of us had pasta—one with pesto and the other with mussels—and I had a grilled orata which as quite good. The total bill, including wine and water, came to 50 euro for three of us.

By the time we finished lunch it was close to 3pm. We had hoped to spend some time exploring the hilltop villages of the Val di Magra which forms the border between Liguria and Tuscany. Both Montemarcello and Ameglia, in particular, which have reputations for excellent food and brilliant scenery. (Fred Plotkin calls this region, the Lunigiana, the “zone of many unknown towns of immense enchantment.” Unfortunately, we were behind schedule and had time only to give a cursory peak into this area, which I have on my list for a return visit.

We drove once again through La Spezia, passing massive naval installations which line the shore south of the city, and along the Gulf of Poets to Lerici, with a bustling marina dominated by the castle of San Giorgio. Lerici looked like a good base for exploring this region. From there we drove south to the tiny hamlet of Tellaro, famous for its octopus—enchanting!



Here is a photo of Tellaro; it does not do justice to the beauty of the little town:
http://www.lavecchialoggia.com/img/TELLARO.JPG

And then up into the hills, foregoing Montemarcello due to the time, and through Ameglia. The views south from there, to the “marble” mountains of the Apuan Alps, and the valley of the River Magra below, are spectacular.. Along with the beautiful panoramas, this area is reputed to be among the eating capitals of Liguria: This is one of the more famous eateries in the area; note that they offer cooking classes and rooms:

http://www.paracucchilocanda.it/eng/


And here is another, also upscale:

http://www.locandadelletamerici.com/index2.htm

And here is a website that might be worth a look:

http://www.lunigiana.com/ameglia.asp




Unfortunately, we had planned too much for the day, so had no time for further exploring. We headed back along the autostrada to Santa Margherita, arriving just in time to relax a bit before heading out to what would be one of the best diners of our trip. This time we left our car on the street, checking with the parking attendant at the hotel to make sure the spot was legal.



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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 09:08 AM
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Oh, I love your reports!
Thanks for sharing with us, I am bookmarking this too for future trips back into that region.

And we still have the Lake portion of your trip to look forward too !!
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 01:29 PM
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I'm so sorry you ran into the cruise ship crowds; they can ruin any beautiful spot. We loved Portovenere so don't give up on it.
Its getting harder and harder to practice cruise ship avoidance!
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Old Oct 21st, 2008, 06:14 PM
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Eks,

Wow! I can never decide whether your reports are pleasure or torture. Is it possible to gain 10 lbs vicariously??? Love the places you stayed and glad you liked SML. I thought it was charming with a nice variety. Yes, the shopping in the streets off the main beachfront was great!

More, more
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Old Oct 22nd, 2008, 02:11 AM
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You are all giving me lot of pleasure! I am glad that you are enjoying! I am not sure if I wrote this above or not, but can you believe that I actually LOST weight on this trip? I did walk a lot and swim a bit, but how to explain that with all of those multi-course lunches and dinners? Of course there was no snacking in the room, except for the Camogliese cookies and the entire loaf of "mateloc," the special sweet bred from Menaggio that I feel in love with! (Ate the tntire loaf in three nights in my room after dinner..more on that later..)

But aside from those two..
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