Conde Nast Traveler

« Remembering Les Paul (and Woodstock) | Main | Pools with a View »

August 17, 2009

Vernazza: The Budget-Conscious Crowd's Portofino

"The only way I can bear to leave Vernazza," says Ondine Cohane, "is if I have another excursion already planned."
Photo: anroir on Flickr using Creative Commons

by Ondine Cohane

Looking for an inexpensive Italian coastal getaway that's got plenty of charm, sun, and beautiful backdrops? Vernazza, in the Cinque Terre, is one of my favorite towns in the country. I'm even loath to write about it because it's such a gem.

I was just back there for my annual pilgrimage, and despite being on the Rick Steves trail, crowded with day-trippers during high season, the place still has its own unspoilable charm--pastel-colored buildings with laundry hanging from the windows, old geezers who make a living room out of the seafront piazza, local kids diving off the pier, and rooms that can still be booked for 100 euros or less. Admittedly, most of the accommodations are not luxurious, and you have to climb a hundred steps to get to Gianni Franzi's rooms, where I usually stay, but I hardly spend time there except to sleep.

There is too much to entertain outside: I stay busy eating at Gianni's trattoria (plates of marinated anchovies in lemon juice, fritto misto, spaghetti al vongole, whole fish in the oven and the pesto the region's famous for), swimming off the aforementioned pier where a swimming-only lane in the cove means undisturbed laps, reading at an outside table at the bar in the main square, and taking hikes between the five picturesque villages that have given this area a UNESCO heritage designation. My favorite of the trails is between Vernazza and Corniglia--it is ruggedly beautiful and the views are spectacular (try to time ending your walk as the sun sets). At night, the town becomes more peaceful when travelers from La Spezia and Porto Venere head to their hotels and only residents and people staying in the village remain.

Next time I want to try Vernazza's La Mala, a newish boutique hotel that overlooks the sea. It's a bit more pricey than the other hotels, but reviews are good.

Further reading:
* Ondine on Brooklyn's own little Italian empire
* Word of Mouth: The buzz worldwide


click to post a comment >

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
Email: Daily updates



Featured in Alltop

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

EXPRESS SIGN-UP Sign up for one of our exciting panels and receive the latest news, travel offers, and event invitations from Condé Nast Traveler and our valued advertising partners.
Traveler Magazine




I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›

Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions