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Levanto in Liguria

Little-town streets want to be explored (slowly and randomly, if you're with me) and passers-by watched and listened to, as you relax at your bistro table, glad of the local white wine's quiet company. Even sitting perched on a beach-side rock it's much the same. Especially we'll look for those restaurants that Levanto natives are drawn to, whose menus offer arguably homier and tastier entrees—and for fewer Euros.

The Via dell'Amore winds its scenic way from Riomaggiore (this image) to Manarola, less than a mile up the coast. It's a stroll rather than a hike—the way is paved, and with almost no change in altitude; wild succulents trail between the boulders rearing up along your right side, with endlessly changing sea water pulsing among sharp rocks to your left (unless of course you began the walk from Manarola or Corniglia and are making your way southward, thus swapping the sides described). So, climb into this picture—the Via begins to your right—find your lover, and enjoy together. Sigh. Its translation: Lover's Lane.

Five nights

Here is the classic Ligurian village, Vernazza—its harbor afloat with colorful boats endlessly bobbing, the somber old church's classic outline against terraced cliffs, a gracious square's fun restaurants. Also well-stocked gelato emporia. The great downside of it is the abundance of U.S. tourists here, guidebooks in hand, twenty-four-seven.   

 

[Thanks, Rick Steves... kind of.]

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Levanto will be our rest stop along the rugged coastline. We've traded the bustle of the actual Cinque Terre park towns, for the peace of this pedestrian corner of Levanto. It's where Italians go to enjoy the Ligurian coast—those paisanos, at least, who aren't budgeted for the rarefied likes of Portofino (people like us, in other words). Among other things we need to take walks, especially during the evening's passagiata... or maybe in the morning mist when other folks who just can't sleep are out walking. As are we. Wonder if any of them will speak English?

Ahhh, comfort in Levanto

Onward by rail, then, westwardly skirting the Mediterranean to that comfortable and exciting town on the French Riviera, so well-loved by prosperous English tourists at the turn of the last century,

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