Ligurian Ponente Coast – Laigueglia, Cervo and Colletta di Castelbianco

walking, mountain, goat, Ligurian coast

Yes, Fidget is right to be worried…

Ligurian Ponente Coast – Laigueglia, Cervo and Colletta di Castelbianco

Laigueglia Sea Front, Liguria, Ponente

Because Trota’s been living the high life in her Louboutin holiday shoes, she was less than impressed by Salmon’s idea of a gentle walk…

But to begin at the beginning. As you know, the Rowes enjoy out-of-season, far-from-the-crowds mini holidays. So, skipping the August riviera option, this time they decided to explore the western Ligurian coast and chose Laigueglia as their base.

Laigueglia Sunrise, Ponente, Liguria

The weather still glorious and the summer crowds long gone, Salmon, Trota and Fidget had the town almost to themselves. There are drawbacks, of course: local restaurateurs take their own holidays after the summer and before the Christmas mini-season, leaving the likes of the Rowes a little short of choice when it came to quality dining experience. That aside, they strolled along the beach, watched the rising sun (yes, the sun rises from the sea) and bumped along on local one-track trains to neighbouring villages.

Cervo Ligure, Liguria, Ponente

Cervo Ligure, Liguria Ponente   Cervo Ligure, Liguria, Ponente   Cervo Ligure, Liguria, Ponente

One fine autumn day they visited Cervo Ligure, a beautiful medieval village atop a hill, a place also known for its summer music season. Cars are not allowed and it’s all steps and cobblestone, but the views from the top are magnificent. And what better reward than a cappuccino and straight-from-the-oven croissant when you get to the bar Borgo Antico in Piazza Santa Caterina – a bit boisterous actually, with the locals debating some business initiatives – and no other tourists in sight (though they were arriving by the coachful down below just as the Rowes were leaving for the train back).

After a heart-stopping race to catch the only returning train of the day (mis-advertised on platform 2 but actually leaving from platform 1) which involved crossing half of the village (trust me: we’d need to draw a diagram), with the train driver finally commenting, “Take it easy: we are used to passengers going to the wrong platform, so we wait”. No wonder the trains run late!

Colletta di Castelbianco, Liguria, Ponente

Colletta di Castelbianco, Liguria, Ponente   Colletta di Castelbianco, Liguria, Ponente   Colletta di Castelbianco, Liguria, Ponente

coffee, cappuccino, croissant   Colletta di Castelbianco, Ponente, Liguria   cactus

Another mini-break highlight was an afternoon in Colletta di Castelbianco: a beautifully restored medieval village about half an hour’s drive inland. This award-winning project has kept the shell of its traditional stone houses but provided all mod-cons inside: fast internet connection, satellite TV, swimming pools, etc – all set in wilderness and surrounded by silence and the smells of nature. Mellow. Now to be fair to Salmon, they hadn’t really planned to go off-road, but on such a lovely day and with everything well fingerposted, the yellow ‘easy’ forty-minute circuit was selected. But up those steep olive-planted slopes and down into those gorges Trota was less than impressed: on their eventual return to base she was barely hanging on to her shoes (apparently). So you can imagine there was a full and frank debrief…

But we move on. And if you enjoy nature, wilderness and silence, this part of the world may well be for you. Just remember to take sensible shoes…