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.
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.
The ocean very close to our villa
Encounters with other tourists are mostly Italian, sometimes French, and rarely Anglophone. Off-season, one is left mainly to the locals.
Last May we spent a relaxing week in a rented villa in Ortonovo, a small hillside town not far from charming Sarzana and world renowned Carrara (most famously known for its white marble used by Michelangelo to carve David).
The little villa overlooks the hills and hillside towns, with a glimpse of the ocean in the distance. It is snugly ensconced on a little hillock surrounded by olive groves, cherry trees, chirping birds and peaceful calm. I found it by chance when our long-awaited Sardinian getaway turned sour. We are not big beach goers or surfers and love old architecture, green forests and rolling hills. We found Sardinia to be dry, the architecture quite modern, the food merely average, and the whole scene, in general, not really to our liking. We decided to cut our losses and endure another overnight ferry to try out our luck in Liguria in a villa I chanced upon online. We had such a great time we decided to repeat the experience this year.
Day 1 May 16, 2009
After meeting Alain at the Genova airport (I flew the short 1.5 hours, and he drove for 2 days visiting a friend near Monaco along the way), we set off. The drive from Genova to Ortonovo is a pretty stretch of highway cutting through mountains and overlooking the ocean for a good part of the way.
Leaving the cool grey dribbling rain and humidity of Paris, I feared for a chilly week spent huddled under a blanket with books and hot tea for company. To my delight, upon exiting the airport, the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was 25 degrees C with absolutely no humidity.
The villa was as we remembered it, and our hosts Antonio and Fabiana as charming and adorable as well. Imagining we would be hungry they had stocked the kitchen with Antonio’s mother’s homemade pesto, Italian cheeses and cold cuts, fresh fruit, bread, pasta, a cousin’s organic white Vermentino wine, coffee, and more…. No restaurant for us tonight. Dinner with a view and a sunset; perfect.
This lovely 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom villa is an ideal spot to enjoy a week of respite away from it all. The embroidered cotton sheets are crisp and pressed, the water in the shower is strong, hot and plentiful, there is a sauna for those who wish to partake, the bed is extra comfortable and the kitchen well equipped for cooking.
Cable TV with international channels allows for keeping up with the outside world (if you must), and WIFI in the garden is available if needed as well (I am writing from there right now)! There is a gazebo, a Jacuzzi, a panoramic view, and no neighbors in sight. Antonio and Fabiana are just next door, if needed, but so very discreet that you are in your own private paradise. They will be thrilled to suggest a local restaurant and make a reservation, and offer advice aplenty if desired.
Best way to reach the owners: [email protected]
Our Gazebo & View