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Trip Report - Rapallo and Santa Margherita June/2009

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Jun 19th, 2009, 02:09 PM
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Trip Report - Rapallo and Santa Margherita June/2009

We are back from another trip to Italy, this time to the Italian Riviera.
Our travel dates were June 10-17th and we couldn't have asked for better weather. Each day was perfect, in the low 80s and sunny. We flew from Newark airport to Nice where we stayed for one night. Our hotel was Mercure Marche Aux Fleurs. The hotel was nicely situated, across from the beach and in right next to the Viex Nice area.
The room was very small, but clean. We paid 120 Euro without breakfast.

The next day we left on an early train to Rapallo, Italy with a connection to Genoa. The train was late, so we missed our connection. We caughed another train shortly after, however, since there are frequent trains that go in the direction. All together the trip from Nice ended up longer than expected becuase it stopped at so many stations along the way.

In Rapallo, we stayed in Hotel Vesuvio (140 Euro per night with cold breakfast) right across the street from the promenade. The owner of the hotel was really friendly and helpful. The room was nice, with double windows opening up to the sea. We did need to close the windows at night because it was noisy. Rapallo is very beautiful and not too touristy. I didnt see any Americans. There were a lot of older people there, we did notice that...typical Italian grandmothers
There was a fruit/vegetables/fish market every day we were there right next to our hotel.
We got some really good foccacia with cheese at a nearby bakery (right next to the market).
For dinner, both nights we were there, we went to a restaurant called Mario's. It was recommended to us by the hotel owner and it was very popular with locals. The food was excellent. We had pesto pasta, mixed grill, grilled orata, grilled branzino and all were very, very good. We ended up going there twice because we liked to restaurant so much. It was reasonable too and you need reservations btw.

Rapallo's beaches are all paid, so we decided to go to the beach in Camogli (where we were originally going to stay, but I couldnt get reservations.)
The next day we took a bus to Camogli. Wow - we were blown away by this place. It was a small village with a very authentic feel. We walked down to the beach and spent the day there. We ate at a pizzeria, don't recall the name, but it was on the waterfront and you had to take steps to go up. I had pesto pasta and my husband had pizza with smoked tuna and wine. It was very good.

The following day we took off for Santa Margerita. We took the bus there from Rapallo. We stayed at Hotel Miramare, which is at the end of Rapallo on the way to Portofino. We paid 258 Euro per night. This was a fancy hotel with bit of a snooty staff, IMO. The breakfast was on the outside terrace and it was excellent. There was fruit, eggs, various pastries - very good. The room was well equipped, but we didnt have sea view ( I was hoping for a free upgrade..oh well), but it opened up to the gardens which smelled like lillies - still nice. There were bathrobes, slippers, flat screen tv, crystal chandellier, just to give you an idea.
Every morning we would come down to breakfast, then go to the hotel's private beach across the road. We had lunch at a few places, including Pezze which is by the Cathedral in the old town. You will find the best priced meals in that area. Every place right across the beach is pretty expensive.
Two days in a row we hiked to Portofino, which was very nice. It was an easy walk/hike and took about 45 minutes each way.
First night we went to La Paranza a few steps away from the hotel. I do not recommend this place. I felt the food was just ok and the prices/service were ridiculous for what you're getting. We met a few locals who recommended Dal Baffo for pizza, seafood. This place was obviously very popular with locals, and the food was excellent and well priced. Another recommendation was Da Antonio which was in the same area as Dal Baffo. We never ended up going there however.
Our last day we rented a scooter and drove it in the direction of Sestre Levante. We stopped at Zoali and had a drink by the fountain, which is in the center of town and watched the sun go down. Renting a scooter was my husband's dream which he finally realized It was definitely scary at first, with all the cars going around us, but it was fun and the views were amazing! The rental cost us 50 Euro for half day.
Our last dinner was in Villa della Donna in the hills of Rapallo. I would recommend this restaurant, the food was typical Ligurian. The views of Rapallo were very beautiful and the food was good. We were the only couple there on a Monday night at 10 o'clock so we felt like the owner catered solely to us. He brought out hommade olive oil, limoncello, various appetizers, 2 types of pasta, grilled shrimp to share, 2 tiramisus. We never saw the menu and the bill came out to 68 euro.
Hope you find this report useful and thanks to everyone who helped us plan this wonderful, memorable trip. Ciao!
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Jun 19th, 2009, 03:07 PM
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Yes, it's a very useful report--and a good one. Glad you had such a swell time.
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Jun 19th, 2009, 03:31 PM
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Glad you had fun! I can understand why you loved Camogli!

What was it about LaParanza in SML that you did not like? I am asking because we had a very good meal here..
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Jun 19th, 2009, 04:24 PM
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Hi ekscrunchy - I want to thank you especially because I planned this trip mainly based on your trip report! You did recommend the orata in salt and that was the best part of the meal.
The main issue we had with La Paranza was that we felt it was overpriced for what we got. The second thing were the mussels I had for an appetizer were so salty I couldn't eat them (and I love mussels!). The orata in salt was good. The portion of trofie con pesto was small and we had better.
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Jun 20th, 2009, 04:37 AM
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Thanks! I was worried because I thought you might have read about the restaurant in my trip report. Anyway it sounds as if you had a wonderful trip. The Miramare was such a wonderful hotel. I think that is one case where a splurge is (sorry to use this phrase) "worth it!"

I will stay tuned for more!!
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Jun 20th, 2009, 05:29 AM
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Yes, Miramare was definitely worth the splurge! Once we got there we didn't want to go anywhere else
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Jun 20th, 2009, 09:35 PM
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Glad that you enjoyed Rapallo and the lack of American tourists-my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip last year. Mario's was wonderful !
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Jun 22nd, 2009, 08:24 PM
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Lack of Americans? What is that all about?
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Jul 18th, 2009, 12:25 PM
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We will be doing a similar trip in Sept. We will leave Nice after 4 days and go to Rapallo. But after reading about your lovely Camogli, perhaps that is a new plan. How did you get from Rapallo to Camogli? Hotels in Camogli? Do you have to return to Rapallo to get the train again? Can anyone recommend a stop between Rapallo and Rome where we will leave from. We've been to Pisa, Florence and Assisi. How about Orvieto?
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Jul 18th, 2009, 12:31 PM
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There is a train station in Camogli. What is your budget for hotel in Camogli? I have information about the town in my trip report; you can find it by clicking on my name and searching the bottom of the page for my trip reports.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Bramsole-the majority of tourists that were in the town WERE not Americans unlike most of Cinque Terre.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 10:30 AM
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Hi, ilovetotravel:

Glad you had such a great time in the neighborhood. And since I shop all the time at the Rapallo open-air market, I'm glad now being taken for an Italian grandmother!

It has continued to be gorgeous weather. July has been a dream of moderate, not-too-hot weather. Blue, blue, blue seas -- and I'm surprised that we get lots of weekend tourists but not too many during the week here in Camogli (although I am here more English as I walk around, both American and British).

The place where you ate pizza in Camogli is La Moreia.

http://www.lamoreia.com/

Another enjoyable spot of pizza is Osteria delle Sette Panche (you walk downstairs to get there).

The seaside town you visited is spelled Zoagli, and I also adore it, especially for its lovely seaside walk. You're quite brave to take that corkscrew road down on the back of a scooter!


JerryM,

I don't know your budget for hotels or your travel style, but in Camogli, the hotel I've enjoyed most is La Casmona. The Cenobio dei Doge is more upscale, and as for the b&bs (not always cheap) I think I Tre Merli has a lovely location. But check Tripadvisor for recent reviews. I live here so I don't stay in hotels.

Have you considered flying to Rome from Genova? As for trains, Pisa is probably the optimal connection, so if you don't want to revisit there, you'll need to go out of your way -- but certainly worth it if you are willing to overnight/ If you're willing to spend a few hours getting to your spot from Camogli, and another few hours getting from there to Roma the following day, some possibilities to consider in addition to Orvieto (which is just about the longest distance you could travel short of going to Roma) are:

Arezzo, Lucca, Bologna and Parma (also Chiusi if you like Etruscans).

I suggest you just plug town names into the Trenitalia website and see how like what you come up with in terms of schedules and logistics, and google up the town names to see what appeals to you.

By the way, Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure and Rapallo are all linked by a 10 minute bus ride (through Ruta) and a 7-10 minute train ride. In the summer, there are boats you can take connecting through Portofino and San Fruttuoso (a cove). And of course you can walk over the mountain through the parco Monte Portofino. Be aware that in September bus and boat connections stop at sunset, although trains run until after midnight.

Also, anyone coming to the region would do well to buy a copy of David Downie's new book on food and wine for the Italian Riviera and Genoa (sold via Amazon), which contains excellent descriptions of the towns, as well as how to eat cheap and well.
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Jul 20th, 2009, 10:33 AM
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I wish I were as good at recognizing Americans as you guys are....how do you know for SURE?
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Jul 20th, 2009, 10:50 AM
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Dukey, it's not that hard.

I can't be the only person who has noticed this: Americans have a fairly distinctive walk (a saunter). Plus all those years of great dentistry and precision haircuts.
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Aug 13th, 2009, 09:12 PM
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ILOVETRAVEL: Thanks for your report! You've got me so excited about staying in Camogli this September...
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Aug 18th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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You're welcome! You will love it there.
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