Bocca di Magra, Montemarcello, Valleponci, Finale Ligure

by Erica Berman


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.


May 21 Day 6

Relaxing, reading and eating. What more is there to say? Our main outing today was at trip to the local supermercato (supermarket) to stock up on groceries. Foccacia, melon, prosciutto, the makings of homemade pizza, rucola (arrugala), mozzarella di bufala biologico (organic buffalo mozzarella), parmiggiano reggiano, local peaches, cherry tomatoes sun dried tomatoes, mortadella (real baloney), olives, rosso di montalcino and fresh basil….

aia-terrace1Terrace of our Ligurian Villa in Ortonovo

May 22 Day 7

A 30 minute drive to the small stone village of Montemarcello overlooking the ocean, a foccacia, and a STEEP hike down to the lovely sandy beach called Punta Corvo.


SO HOT. Did not think to bring an umbrella and none of the omni-present umbrella renters made it out to this secluded spot. Huddled in a bit of shade under the overhang of one of the cliffs and dip in the ocean to cool off from time to time.

punta-corvo1Spiaggia Punta Corvo (beach)

Noticed the regularly timed boats coming up to the beach to offload beachgoers and understood, for next time, that it is possible to take a boat from Bocca di Magra, Fiumaretta, and Leirci. There are a number of hiking trails on the hillside around the beach, but by the time we hauled ourselves sweating and breathless up the steep hill to the trailhead, a gelato in Sarzana seemed a more realistic solution!

Biagi it was! Lines out the door, and well worth the wait.

May 23 + may 24 Day 8

Relaxing and working in the garden. The heat was not providing a lot of motivation to get up and move anywhere. Hiking would have been nice, but it must have been 85 in the sun. Another Pizza and Calzone. Reading and movies and relaxing.

oImage from the Church in Ortonovo

May 25

Another scorcher ( un caldo da morire! – as  Fabiana said this morning). Paris and the grey cool drizzle seem light years away. After yummy warm foccacia and espresso brought to us by Fabiana and Antonio and a struggle with the ever-slow Internet connection, we packed our things and got on our way. Our Ortonovo vacation has come to a close and, and now we head to Finale Ligure and Valleponci, our agriturismo from a couple of months ago.

picture-27Valleponci agriturismo entrance

Thoughts of hiking at the Cinque Terre are quickly curtailed by the rapidly approaching 40 degree  centigrade thermometer. Bad foccacia in a dirty roadside café, and we arrive at Finale Ligure for a gelato en route to the B&B.

I wanted to hit the beach (under an umbrella of course) but Alain was sleepy and we hung out to read and relax with promises of domani. We have a big dinner to prepare for. Thoughts of troflie al pesto fill our minds. Our days are swiftly falling into a rhythm of food, ice cream, beach and books. I am re-reading Jhumper Lhahiri  Unaccustomed Earth — definitely a good holiday read. Well written, if not a bit too depressing.

camere-valleponciOur simple & cheap room (after a good night’s sleep) at Valleponci

Dinner in the agriturismo was tasty – wine from Valleponci, fried boragine, local goat cheese, tapenade and fresh olives, testaroli with pesto, troflie with pesto, spicy pear with cream ice cream, cafe and grappa. valleponci-resto

Dinner at Valleponci in a charming ambiance

May 26

valleponci-signUp early for a quick hike in the mountains outside our door before the heat becomes unbearable. Morning dew and unbroken spider webs crisscross our path. The heat is rising but we beat it and remain mostly in the shade. To have numerous paths right outside our door is a pleasure. If only we had more time to explore. There are many rock climbers in the region as the cliffs are perfect for climbing.

valleponcihike Valleponci – on our morning hike

Lovely sunny day in Finale Ligure started by a fabulous cappuccino in a café overlooking the ocean and followed by a lunch of Panini and salad, and then some time on the fairly empty and lovely white sand beach. The clear blue water, small waves and moderate temperatures beckoned. We were told that it would be 10€ for both of us to rent lounge chairs and an umbrella. After some haggling (seemed like a lot to us as it was already 14h and clouds were rolling in), we reached agreement at 6€. This included bathrooms, showers, and changing station for those who so desire. Also on hand – a snack bar, games, newspapers, gelato and drinks.

finale-spiaggiaSpiaggia Finale Ligure ( the beach)

A melon sorbet for Alain and a apricot pastry for me, coupled with a stroll around Finale Ligure finished up the afternoon.  Finale Ligure is a lazy little town ( in off season – I don’t want to imagine it in July & August), yet has a nice lived in feel of not being just a tourist destination, despite the long white beach and surrounding mountains. An ideal slow travel getaway!

spiaggia-finale2Spiaggia Finale Ligure ( the beach)

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Written By

Erica Berman

Erica Berman grew up in Lexington, Mass. After graduating from Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Journalism and an intensive summer at Middlebury College (Vermont), Erica went to Paris with hopes of submerging herself in French culture and perfecting her French -- and she stayed 20 years. Erica is the founder of the HiP Paris Blog and Haven In her former company. She now splits her time between Paris (Montmartre) and Maine (Midcoast). She recently started a non-profit growing organic produce for the food insecure in Maine called Veggies to Table. In her all-too-rare free time, Erica likes to travel off the beaten track, explore Paris and Maine, read, take photos, cook, kayak, hike and enjoy long Sunday brunches with her friends. View Erica Berman's Website

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