One of the areas I have always wanted to visit is the Cinque Terre coast of Italy. The pictures from this area always looked so incredible that I wanted to see it for my own eyes and hike all five towns. The way our trip was going we would have a day, maybe two, to accomplish visiting all the five towns. In researching, it became very difficult to decide what to cut from the areas. Kevin researched other options available since it was looking to be a rushed trip through the very crowded Cinque Terre. He found the town where many Italian and Swiss residents go to vacation- Camogli (casa= house, moglie= wife, Camogli=”House of the Wives”). This shore town is snuggled on the west coast of Italy north of the Cinque Terre and just north of Portofino. Camogli seemed to have everything we wanted out of Cinque Terre so it made the cut in our trip.
Early rise out of Florence walking through the empty streets, watching delivery trucks unload for another busy day. It took us three train rides to get to the small shore town of Camogli. The final train gave us incredible views of the ocean as we hugged the coast overlooking the clear water full of rocks, cliffs, swimmers, and boats. Our Airbnb host picked us up from the Camogli San Fruttuoso train station and drove us through small and hilly roads to her yellow home atop the town. We were immediately mesmerized by the view out of the bedroom window- it was breathtaking- below was the town center along miles of coast and ocean. We could hardly wait to explore so we descended the steep streets and stairs on this extremely hot day.
Lunch: Semmu Friti
On our way down, we passed Semmu Friti for our first taste of fresh seafood. This place is known for their fried seafood specialties that come in a cone! The menu on a chalkboard is updated with daily catches and prepared as you order. We ordered a sampler of a variety of fried options- including anchovies, calamari and shrimp. It was unfortunate it was so hot outside as I think we would have ordered a lot more food because it was so tasty!
A tad (ok, a lot) sweaty, we finally made it to the town center- it was just as stunning as the view from above. It had a boardwalk, which is a very familiar concept to us, but this was far superior to the Jersey shore. The beaches did not have sand but small smooth rocks that led to the dark yet crystal clear ocean. Walking on these rocks was rather uncomfortable for us but locals and vacationers were laying on it as if it were sand. We definitely regretted not having swim gear with us to enjoy the area. Instead we explored the boardwalk, jumped in and out of the shops and grabbed some gelato to help us cool down.
We reached a point where a difficult decision was in front us. It was 2PM and our dinner in town wasn’t until 8PM. The town was small so we had explored many of the shops and since we did not have bathing suits we could not sit on the beach in the beating sun, though we did take the time to kick off our shoes and dip our feet into the ocean. The option of climbing all the way up the side of the hill back to the Airbnb was a daunting task I was unwilling to do. After falling asleep on a bench and slamming my head into the stone behind me, we decided to walk around the harbor.
We discovered Camogli’s amazing harbor is partly due to it still be a working fishing town. We found a lovely spot in the shade to sit and watch the boats come in and out and the fisherman tend to their catches. The contour of the wall behind us was perfect to rest… and then fall asleep for two hours! I was embarrassed for having fallen asleep in public for such a long period of time but it was a very relaxing spot- the cool ocean breeze and the sound of the waves with the rocking sound of the boats, well maybe it happens more often than I think.
Feeling immensely refreshed and with the sun descending the sky, we were able to appreciate the town and take our time. We found a giant frying pan on display, similar to ones used during Camgoli’s fish festival held annually during May.
Ravello had appeared on many recommendations so we stopped in to sample a variety of cookies and pastries. I don’t quite remember everything we got, we just pointed at everything that caught our eye, but it was all delicious! If it were not so close to our dinner time, we would have sampled their famous foccacia bread; alas it will have to wait for the next trip.
We traveled back to the ocean to dip our feet and watch sun set. If we were staying longer in Camogli we would have just bought bathing suits to indulge in its most beautiful beach.
Dinner: Ristorante Vento Ariel
It was finally time for our long awaited dinner at Ristorante Vento Ariel, highly rated by reviewers and our Airbnb host. Our reserved table was outside directly in front of the harbor where we sat and watched the sun set over our dinner, could not have been more perfect. I will start by saying this dinner was exceptional- one of the most memorable meals of the trip.
- Wine by our waiter’s recommendation, we ordered a bottle of Pigato- a white wine from Liguria that was delightfully refreshing that paired perfectly with our seafood meal top left
- My first course was a seafood risotto which was probably my favorite dish of the trip and is one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever had. It was full of different creatures of the sea- mussels, shrimp, calamari and I am probably missing a few top right bottom
- Kevin’s first course was anchovies on tomatoes (“acciughe sotto sale e pomodoro”) drizzled in olive oil, which he has been looking forward to trying all trip top right top
- My entree was grilled squid over a tomato salad- it was very simple and allowed for a perfect showcase of the squid’s fresh flavor bottom left bottom
- Kevin’s entree was the “linguine all’amatriciana”, pasta in a spicy tomato based gravy that he very much enjoyed bottom left top
- Dessert for me was a chocolate torte cake (“torta al cioccolato”) bottom right bottom and Kevin ordered the panna cotta bottom right top and these were both perfect endings to our amazing meal
Our Airbnb host and her friend actually stopped in for dinner here as well and had a rose sent to our table- honestly the sweetest thing. This has probably been our favorite Airbnb experience given the incredible view and host. She asked if we felt the meal was expensive and while it was certainly more than our typical bill (“conto”) for Italy, it was far cheaper than if we ordered this exact meal in the US.
Before walking back to the top of Camogli, we walked the coast at night, which transformed- the buildings on the boardwalk were outlined with string lights and the ocean reflected it all in a magical scene.
We braced ourselves for the journey back up to our room, which was certainly not as bad as anticipated given the sun had set. As we laid down for bed, with the window open and cool breeze coming through and the moon shining bright into our room, we began to hear a high pitched screeching sound. “That’s not a bat is it?” “Oh it’s definitely a bat”. After a bad rabies season back home, I immediately freaked out closing our window shut… our only source of cool air. Rabies or a hot room? The choice was easy for me- hot room. Kevin for some reason struggled much more with the decision! I could not stomach the idea of a trapped bat in our room that could derail the next portion of our trip by necessitating rabies shots – window closed.
Alive and without rabies, we awoke to our amazing ocean view. Our Airbnb host had breakfast on her porch overlooking the ocean- a spread of foccacia, cheese bread, croissants, and juices- as we sat with her and had a great time discussing an array of topics- her life as an Airbnb host, her previous work, her “struggle” with English- her English was perfect- and many other topics. As we packed up our bags, our host drove us to the Recco train station as we journeyed to Genova for our final destination, Asti.
We did not know what to expect out of Camogli but it far surpassed anything we could have anticipated. We wished we could have stayed longer and I think on our next trip to Italy we will return. For one, we will pack bathing suits to lounge on the beach and we will certainly stay at this Airbnb again. A true hidden gem tucked away on the beautiful coast of Italy.
For the full Italy itinerary, click here!