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Day-Tripping Through Liguria: From Genoa to Cinqueterre and Beyond

Our very own Erica Berman has just landed in Genoa for her yearly stint in Liguria, her favorite region of Italy. This still relatively untouched corner of Italy is one of our favorite spots for experiencing authentic Italian living in a gorgeous, seaside setting. Until the rest of us are able to make it there ourselves, we can live vicariously through Marisa’s gorgeous photography… -Geneviève

Sarzana details

I’ll just put it right out there: I love Liguria, and centrally situated Genoa is the perfect home base from which to delve into and savor Liguria’s many enchanting qualities and seaside cities. A maritime marvel, La Superba (the proud or the haughty, as it was once known) rivaled Venice as a powerful city-state for over 500 years. And while the splendor of its storied past as a seafaring legend is evident in the magnificent UNESCO-protected Strade Nuove and Palazzi dei Rolli, Genoa’s real charm is its present-day incarnation as a working port city.


This is a city that doesn’t bend over backwards to market itself to tourists. The result is an authentic Italian metropolis, more accustomed to the visiting Milanese than Manhattanite. As a traveler who thrives on finding and experiencing those places that aren’t (yet) teeming with fellow Americans, Genoa is a joy for me. Plus, I’m a sucker for labyrinthine medieval lanes, which Genoa has in spades. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 15 Comments »

Life in Italy vs. Life in France: Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, Erica Berman shared her most telling anecdotes about the difference between life in France and life in Italy. While most of us can only envy the lifestyle that makes intimate knowledge of those details a part of daily life, Erica’s insight into the particularities of French and Italian culture helps us live the dream. In part two, she moves beyond general life to get to the juicy stuff : how the natives operate.

Vongole CamogliPhotos Erica Berman – Seafood Pasta in Italy this summer

Differences between the French and the Italians…

  • Nothing is a problem for the Italians…everything is a problem for the French. I think there are numerous posts to be written on this thought… a suivre!
  • Italians miss pasta and coffee when away from their beloved Italy. The French are hands down pining for bread and cheese when far from home.
Croissant Erica ParisCroissants in Paris
  • The French do not ask personal questions. Italians ask many. The French find asking questions a sign of indiscretion, and they take the utmost pride in being discreet, sometimes to the point of ridiculous (when applying for a job they may not feel comfortable asking the salary).
  • The Italians are curious and their inquiring minds want to know. In elevators in Italy I have had personal conversations on where I’m from and why I’m in Italy with people I have never seen before and will probably never see again. In France a bonsoir or bonjour is possibly all the chatting you will get after years of being neighbors.
  • Italians remember you after seeing you once. The French might, of course, remember you, I am convinced they do, but will do their very best to pretend that they have never seen you before (my corner bakery in Montmartre is in the running for longest possible non recognition of a regular customer – almost 18 years. The bread is so amazing and their complete neutrality so fascinating, I keep on going).
Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Parisian Living, Travel | 50 Comments »

Colletta di Castelbianco: A Medieval Village With Internet in Liguria

Coletta MontagejpgPhotos Erica Berman (The garden of our rental & the common pool)

For some happy reason no one — except the Italians and a few others in the know — has heard of Liguria aside from well-known towns Portofino and Cinque Terre. It is for this exact reason that I have come to adore this small crescent-shaped region of Italy.

Colletta di CastelBianco

I love to be away from mass tourism and well-known places, and the ocean, hills, clement climate, amazing food and lovely people most certainly heighten the appeal of this wonderful area. For my week of vacation from studying Italian in Genoa (my favorite Italian city, also located in Liguria) I rooted up the perfect apartment in the medieval village of Colletta di CastelBianco.

Colletta window detail

Left to abandon for many years, an Italian developer picked up this empty, decaying hilltop spot and turned it into a sweet little village with 70 small apartments (about 25 of which are available for rent), a pool, a restaurant and lots of lovely outdoor space. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 13 Comments »

Trains in Italy – no cars needed here


To get around the Ligurian Riviera without a car (Camoli, Cinque Terre, Santa Margherita, Finale Ligure, Varigotti, La Spezia, Portofino – you need to take a boat or bus from Santa Margherita) from Genoa on public transportation one may take the increasingly infamous Trenitalia. Continue Reading »

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Genoa to Camogli, Punta Chiappa & back



July in Genoa and things are heating up. It is time to find ways to get out of the heat. Temperatures in the sun often surpass 90°F, even with low humidity, it is HOT.

One the best places to be is on my 100m² terrace, enjoying my panoramic view of the city and port. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 1 Comment »

Genoa – what exactly am I doing while here in Italy?

Typical Genoa

So, what do I do here friends want to know? This is my third trip to Genoa, and I still have not been to the Aquarium, to the famous museums that dot the city,  or even to  see the house where Christopher  Colombus supposedly lived. I have thoroughly walked on the winding passageways (caruggi), in and around Genoa’s old medieval center (said to be the largest medieval center in Europe).

I have criss-crossed my neighborhood Castelletto, and I have made it my mission to find the best gelateria, the best focacceria, the best cappuccino,

Continue Reading »

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Bocca di Magra, Montemarcello, Valleponci, Finale Ligure


May 20, 2009 Day 5

Setti Archi – Lunch at a seafood restaurant in the nearby marina, Bocca di Magra. Discovered this gem last year and were delighted to return to the wonderful seafood and service in this family run hotel and restaurant . Their tasting menu of 5 different seafood dishes is amazing (see photos). A short hot hike into the hills behind the Marina took us to a small rocky cliff and beach where we read for a while and headed home.


Continue Reading »

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Forte dei Marmi, Sarzana, Biaghi Gelateria & more


Photos: Erica Berman – Forte di Marmi

May 17, 2009 Day 2

Warm sun, breakfast of apricot croissants, too strong coffee and the view with a breeze and birds chirping.  Trying to figure out how to make my new Nikon D90 work; frustration and the realization that I am going to have to actually study the manual and learn how to take a photo (examples of my efforts to be seen in this, and all future, posts)!

We are heading out in a bit to the Agristurismo restaurant  that Anotonio heartily recommends. Being an apparently avid foodie, we are taking his word and off to enjoy the big Sunday meal amidst a flock of what will most certainly be boisterous Italian families out for their Sunday repast en famille.

Lunch was a bit heavier then we expected. A fixed price menu with a lot of courses (none particularly memorable except for the semifreddo dessert)….three hours  (which were two too many) later, we were off direction Forte dei Marmi.

fortedimarmi2Forte dei Marmi

Continue Reading »

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My Ligurian Villa vacation (on Tuscan border – by Cinque Terre)


One of our views & rose bushes by the villa
Photos: Erica Berman

For some reason, one I am not sure of, most Americans (and the majority of tourists in general) come to Italy for Tuscany, Rome and Venice. Don’t get me wrong, these are all beautiful places, and definitely merit a visit, or many, but there are oodles of other places in Italy worthy of discovery.

picture-3The Villa

Liguria is a small region of Italy nestled between the French border and Tuscany, and covers a long coastline bordered by mountains. Genova is the capital and Portofino its most known city, followed closely by the spectacular Cinque Terre. Luckily for those who care to sojourn within, few have heard of Liguria – not even most French, whose border touches it. Miles of unspoiled mountainous coastline and sandy beaches, kilometers and kilometers of hiking, excellent food and friendly hosts – this is right up our vacation alley. Continue Reading »

Posted in Italy tips & suggestions, Travel | 6 Comments »