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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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Post image for Got Canals? The Secret of Venice by Kayak

Venice stretches over 117 small islands that are intricately laced with 177 canals and 409 bridges.

Paddling Venice’s secret canals lets you explore the city from a view that many will never see; which is exactly why kayaking should top your “things to do in Venice” list. It’s a juicy little loophole that is just waiting to be loved.

Most people won’t suggest Venice as a kayak destination. Why? Because most visitors lean on the Venice-in-a-shiny-black-gondola  fantasy. But that doesn’t work for everyone, especially people who crave unique angles. I’ve never been tempted to spring 100 euros for a 40 minute gondola ride — no way.  But listening to the drips of my kayak paddle in a backwater canal while peering down the silent alleyway of a faded pallazzo — yes, pretty please!

Why Kayak Venice?

Jetting around the canals in Venice is totally fun and is why the city has a shiny gold star on most people’s Italian itineraries.  I love travelling on the vaporetto; the city’s ferry system. This is the main way of getting around Venice and the tickets set you back just a few euros which leaves plenty of coin for sunset aperitivi at a rooftop wine bar.

Other ways to travel the canals include water taxis or booking a  tour in a motor boat.  One extreme case is packing an inflatable boat in your luggage like these crazy peeps — but that would really thrash on my whole light packing mantra.

The downer with most modes of travel on the waterways is that you are just a passenger within a group. The rockin’ thing about renting a kayak is that you are in control of your vessel, and you call the shots of where you go and what you see.   If that miniature canal looks like it leads to a perfect photo opportunity or enticing little lunch spot then you can make that happen.

The fact is,  Venice highly restricts the operation of motorized vessels to specific canals but non-motorized boats have free rein. You can go anywhere at anytime in a paddled or rowed boat;  even against one-way traffic (how perfectly Italian!).  The only portion that is off limits is the military zone around the arsenale and the lagoon.

In a kayak you have virtually unlimited access to Venice’s waterways big and small.  I love that.

How to Rent a Kayak in Venice

The company Venice Kayak is run by these lovely folks and they will set you up in style.

All kayak rentals come with a guide. No, you can’t just rent a boat and go ramp up the Grand Canal solo in the fray of vaporetti, ambulance boats and every other conceivable water craft (think of the garbage boat, the baker’s boat and butcher’s boat!). Although the guides won’t tell you where to go, they will get you where you want to go safely. If you just want to follow someone else’s brain they will take you on a guided trip.  You can view the prices and other goodness here. Their night trips have my emphatic vote.

 Who took these gorgeous shots?

My friend Filippo Mutani photographed these images for a spread in the Financial Times. Fillippo is a bad-ass Milan based photographer and you can see his crazy-beautiful fashion editorial shots here.  I kinda want to scream it from the rooftops: Filippo is locked and loaded to photograph you in Italy when you come and stay with us in the Cinque Terre in June 2012. Booking high end fashion photogs is exactly the incredible experiences we manifest for our precious guests who experience Italy with us.

If you wanna get in on the crazy-fun action in Italy you can join our waitlist here and you’ll be the first to know about future dates.

Groovy Ideas for Sleeping in Venice

 

The Certosa Hotel is the meeting place for Venice Kayak excursions and is located on an island in the middle of the lagoon. They offer a pretty sweet 10% discount on your stay if you book a kayak trip. If you want go the rock-star route and pass out naked from too much prosecco like the rest of the guests, then stay at the Cipriani Hotel (but you might have to sell your first born to afford it). They can also arrange your kayak trip as well as accommodate over the top requests of the glitterati who flock to these posh digs.

For alternative lodging to a hotel you could sleep in a houseboat or camp on the Lido or stay in my personal favourite: a gorgeous tented lodge just outside of Venice.

Just Remember

The key to hanging in Venice (or any city where tourists outnumber the locals) is seeking out under the radar sights and activities by connecting with people who can give you great recommendations. Going on a kayak trip isn’t just about seeing more, it is about spending time with people who are the heartbeat of a city. And that is the golden ticket to upgrading your “trip” into a life lifting experience.

{all images by Filippo Mutani}

PLEASE COMMENT: I would love to hear your feedback. Have you been to Venice? What are your favourite things to do there? Thanks!  xx B

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