Kiiri @ Italian Fix

Book your 2017 girlfriend trip of a lifetime to the Cinque Terre Italy with Italian FixPlanning a trip to the Cinque Terre can be enough to do your head in, amiright?

All you have to do is check out the comments section in our Beginner’s Guide to the Cinque Terre to see how complicated people seem to find traveling to these five towns.

(There are literally hundreds of Cinque Terre travel questions from readers on that one blog post alone!)

It’s not like going to Florence or Rome, where you basically know what to expect. Even a jaw-droppingly gorgeous city in Italy is still a city — you figure out what you want to see and where you want to stay, and you go from there.

But the Cinque Terre is a place like no other, so before you even begin to plan, you have to wrap your head around this area’s sometimes seriously confusing logistics.

The answer to a simple question like, “Can I drive there?” is:

“Well yes, but also no. You can get there by car, but you can only drive down into the villages during certain hours of the day. And you have to park up at the top of town, not right at your hotel. And that’s only if you can find a space because the parking lots are small, so you might want to park in La Spezia or Levanto instead. In which case you’d have to take the train in anyway, and you’ll want to take the train between villages as well. So yes, you can drive there. But that doesn’t mean you should.”

Some others we get asked over and over again:

“How do I choose which town to stay in?”

“How do I know which trails I’ll be able to hike and which will be closed?”

“Should I stay in a different town each night?”

“Are there any restaurants where only the locals go?”

“What are the best spots for taking amazing photos?”

“Is it safe for women traveling solo?”

“I want to go for 4 days and 3 nights — what’s the best itinerary for me?”

“Can you PLEASE help me plan my trip???”

That last one is a biggie, because don’t you just want someone to do all of this work for you?

Wouldn’t it feel so good to skip all of the Googling and guessing and hoping you’re going to make the best choices and hit the coolest places?

If you have a week to see this magnificent part of the world, you want to do it right.

And you want it to be easy. (A vacation should = less, not MORE work!)

Well hey, you guys! That’s exactly what we do for you.

When you come on one of our tours for women (and we have space left on two this season — July 3-10 and September 21-28), you can relax!

You can spend the lead-up to your trip daydreaming about how blissful it’s going to be instead of stressing about whether you’ve done enough of the right research.

And you can rest easy because you know that we’ve got decades of experience in this area.

In fact, unlike other companies, our tour guides actually live in the Cinque Terre.

So we take you to the restaurants the locals love, the secret swimming spots you otherwise wouldn’t know about, the trails off the beaten path, and the under-the-radar towns nearby.

I mean, feast your eyes on this itinerary, wouldja?

DAY 1

Our driver will meet you and whisk you to your hotel in Monterosso’s historical center. We’ll meet for dinner with the area’s famous and colorful pastel homes as a backdrop. Enjoy new friends and great conversation — a meal of local seafood and wine will set you up for a good sleep. You’ll wake in the morning to the sound of church bells.

DAY 2

After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel you’ll head off to your playground for the day, a 17th-century villa tucked into the quiet hills of Levanto. Eat lunch in a place you’d never find without us. You’ll prepare your meal with an Italian chef, and then dine al fresco under the wisteria. Since it’s Italy, all you’ll have to think about is relaxing at a nice beach — we’ll take you to our favorite in Bonassola.

DAY 3

Your driver will take you to Tuscany. Shop our fave market in Italy for Made in Italy clothing, shoes and gifts. Forte dei Marmi is walkable and stylish and right on the sea. Then you’ll head to a quiet, under-the-radar Tuscan town where the streets are filled with art. You’ll eat at our friend’s cool marble-sculpture-studio-cum-restaurant (where guests gush about the best meal of their lives).

DAY 4

You’ll want a day to rest and relax and read a book. Or walk. Or sleep. Or maybe you want to take the ferry and explore Portofino, Portovenere or hike more trails. Whatever you choose to do, we’re here to help you do it, because Italian Fix is all about making this the best holiday of your life. So lean on us!

DAY 5

Let’s escape to higher ground. You’ll hike the famous Cinque Terre trails through vineyards and olive groves. You’ll walk between small villages on ancient paths the locals use to tend their fields. You’ll see the entire coastline. Of course, lunch is at our fave spot. You’ll watch the sunset back at home on Monterosso’s stunning stretch of beach. Prosecco, anyone?

DAY 6

You’ll venture to the village of Riomaggiore to devote some time to an Italian pleasure: The Art of Eating and Drinking. You’ll explore the town and then have lunch at one of our favorite new finds, with panoramic views of the multicolored buildings, hillside, and sea. Then it’s off to Manarola, where we’ll introduce you to a special friend of ours and cap off the day with a fun Italian tradition — apericena — as you gaze over at one of the Cinque Terre’s most iconic and spectacular vistas. Yes, you will feel like you’re sitting in a postcard.

DAY 7

Wake up slowly and look back on your week. Take some final photos. Sit under a lemon tree on the veranda, barefoot. Our beautiful trip to Italy will end with a laid back gathering among new friends and old wine. Wasn’t it nice being on holiday with someone who took care of you, just for a change?

Or maybe you’re a more visual person, in which case, picture yourself here:

Take the plunge!

 

and here:

 

Cooking Class in Italy

 

and here:

 

Beach

 

We are a company of women who have called and do call the Cinque Terre home — like, we literally live here, you guys.

So our Cinque Terre tour is our baby — our signature trip — crafted and perfected over several years of on-the-ground experience and real insider intel.

No amount of Googling can top that.

Oh, and did I mention we’re also lots of fun?

And that we have a special knack for attracting some of the most positive, generous, and wonderful souls to travel with us in Italy?

So it feels like you’re traveling with a group of awesome girlfriends. And we take care of our friends.

Photo by Leela Cyd

Photo by Leela Cyd

Wanna come?

We have space left on our July trip (July 3-10) and our September trip (September 21-28).

And we would love to have you join us.

With love + lemon gelato,

Bianca + the Italian Fix Team

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what to eat Florence

It made me jump every time — a fist coming down on the card table, a menacing lunge forward, sudden raised voices, everyone’s hands doing half the talking. I always stopped what I was doing to listen, and try to make sense of what these little old men would get so heated about day after day outside the gelateria where I worked when I first moved to Italy. It had to be something important, right? Like politics or ideology or some ancient wound, a betrayal that kept getting dragged out.

And then my Italian got better. Little by little words began to surface that I could recognize, I started to be able to string a few threads together here and there. It took some time, but I eventually discovered what all the hand waving and passionate speeches were about. And though it had nothing to do with current events or old double-crossings, it was no less important to the little old men, no less deserving of their fire and zeal. All along, they had been talking about food.

Whose nonna had the best recipe for ragu, full-on debates about what goes into a proper pasta al pesto, a play-by-play of everyone’s dinner menus that night and exactly how each dish was going to be prepared… These guys would go on and on for ages — about food! And the thing is, they weren’t unique to the little town in the Cinque Terre where I was working at the time. I had studied in Florence the summer before and had witnessed the same intense conversations there. In fact, I find that Florentines are passionate about food on a whole other level — they take pride in what they prepare and eat because family traditions in both the city and the surrounding countryside are rooted in a strong attachment to the land and what it produces.
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The Beginner’s Guide to Portofino

by Kiiri @ Italian Fix

what to do in portofino

Looking for what to do in Portofino? Get straight up advice from someone who lives in that neck of the yachts.

Portofino is a fab day trip from the Cinque Terre. You can easily hop on a train from any Cinque Terre village and head north. More insider train information in our guide here.

We’ve asked Portofino insider, and Italian Fix guest contributor, Kaitlin King to spill the fagioli. Kaitlin writes …

***

I first arrived in Portofino aboard a private, 5-story yacht sailing from Monaco. I ate at the finest restaurants, played in one-thousand-euro-a-day beach lounges, and popped champagne with celebrities. “Wouldn’t it be a dream to live here?” my travel companion sighed, dreamily. “Yes, it would.”

Today, I do live here — kind of. My small flat is just down the road. I get to Portofino by bike sharing, spend my days hiking, and splurge on 9-euro Aperol Spritz aperitivi so I can get the free snacks. Truth be told, I came to Portofino the first time as a tutor for a world-traveling European family. I lived the high life with them, enjoying a fairytale tourist experience. Then I fell in love with my waiter, returned after my tutoring gig was over, and today enjoy more of a local, Italian lifestyle.

Here’s a peek into the affordable side of this beautiful former fishing village, and the secret spots that both the posh and the proletariat frequent.
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