This stretch of coast of Eastern Riviera, a difficult but fascinating land, has remained unchanged, as proved by the cartographer Matteo Vinzoni in his map of 1722!
Trekking excursions in the inland allow you to enjoy a landscape of striking beauty: medieval villages, hidden farms, olive groves, oil mills, rows of vines and plenty of flowers.
La Francesca's park occupies an area of 15 hectares on a hillside that slopes down to the sea. Vegetation is strictly dependent on soil features. Most of the plants are autochthonous. Evergreens predominate, both in the forest vegetation as well as in the characteristic Mediterranean maquis and can be found on the rocks by the sea or in the underbrush of the pinewoods. Their tough, glossy leaves allow to limit water waste during Summer. Myrtle, buckthorn and lentisk adopt this strategy to survive; while heather, rosemary and juniper limit transpiration by reducing leaves.
Walking in the park at the hottest time of the day we can perceive strong flavours: they are the sweet-smelling transpirations of the essential oils which allow aromatic plants to breathe. Photo on the right: santolina ligustica, an autochthonous plant whose population is about 30,000. It grows only on green volcanic rocks, on the stretch of coast between Punta Mesco and Deiva Marina.
It is a village of 962 people. It overlooks a little gulf closed westwards by the Punta della Madonna, with its 17th century chapel. Behind, on a 900 hectares hill lie the picturesque villages of Montaretto, Reggimonti, San Giorgio, Costella, Serra, Poggio and Scernio.
Thanks to the maritime and mountain climate, air is clean and safe all the year through. Walking along the narrow streets of the village you can admire exclusive buildings of the 18th century, as a mark of a glorious past.
The famous cartographer Matteo Vinzoni was born in Bonassola in 1690. During the high season a boat service connects Bonassola with the Gulf resorts, the Cinque Terre and the Riviera up to Portofino.
A small town (population 5,550) on a 3,800 hectares’ area and the administrative centre of Levanto valley. It is surrounded by numerous villages such as Casella, Chiesa Nuova, Dosso, Fontona, Fossato, Ghiare-Molino, Groppo, Lavaggiorosso, Legnaro, Lerici, Lizza, Pastine, Ridarolo, Vignana.
Popular seaport in the Middle Ages, it still keeps a rural and maritime identity which affects many features of the local life, from economy to traditional food, and still retains the urban design with monuments of refined beauty.
It is a slow city (Slow Food Tasting Circuit) thanks to its gastronomic traditions and the production of DOP oil and DOC wines.
The 5 small villages, dominated by sloping terraces and almost hanging between sky and sea, make up one of the most suggestive scenery of Ligurian coastline. The sound of the sea waves dashing against the rocks and the intense perfumes of myrtle, oleanders, lemons, pines and mediterranean maquis make this area one of the most suggestive of Italy. Golden grapes ripen on the ancient terraces built with hard work by the peasant farmers: an astonishing sight you can enjoy only by walking along the footpaths and the steep stairs dug into the rocks.
A frequent train service connects the 5 centres from Levanto (daily ticket 5 Terre card). But it is also possible to get there on foot: the views of the sea and the coast deserve a little effort.
Which Besides Portus Veneris, the ancient port of Roman triremes, it includes the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. The park still keeps traces of the prehistoric people who inhabited the Grotta dei Colombi.
An area of 4,320 hectares. Not only a set of wonderful landscapes, but also a laboratory of environmental protection and requalification activities, such as the Centro Regionale Fauna Minore, the Orto Botanico of Montemarcello and the Centro Studi sulle aree protette e gli ambienti fluviali.
Situated on Portofino headland, 1,800 hectares and 13 kms of coasts. The headland summit is accessibile only through the paths network which allows to visit the different park resorts.
For more than 50 years now we have proposed an ecologically sustainable tourism stricty related to the site, and promoted a respectful behaviour towards the environment. La Francesca, thanks to its position, offers the possibility to do trekking all the year around. Walking slowly and enjoying landscape beauty: that is the best way to get acquainted with Liguria Eastern Riviera’s culture, history and gastronomy.
You can choose among the many footpaths along the wonderful Cinque Terre or those, less beaten, of the surroundings.
The most unusual one starts from the pathway that from the restaurant slopes down to the cycle-lane. The 5.7 kms long flat path that links Levanto, Bonassola and Framura, follows the layout of the ancient railway line opened in 1874. The restored and well illuminated tunnels, with cycle and pedestrian lanes separated, have breaches that reveal unexpected glimpses of the sea and small hidden bays. Bikes can be rented in Bonassola.
Here are a few ones
- Tour of Bonassola valley: La Francesca-Scernio-Costella-Chiesa di San Giorgio-Montaretto-Monte Brino-Carpenegio-Salto della Lepre-Bonassola. Time required half day
- Bonassola-Framura: 4,5 kms, time required 2 hours 30'.
- Levanto-Madonna della Guardia-Ghiare: footpaths no. 12, 30 and 30A.
- Tour of Palmaria Island: white red path, time required 3 hours, altitude 310 m.
- Lerici-Tellaro-Monte Marcello: white red path, time required 2 hours 30'.
- Framura-Deiva Marina: 4,5 kms, time required 2 hours 30'
- Deiva-Acquafredda-Costa di Framura: blue footpath no. 14, 3 kms, time required 1 hour.
- Camogli-San Fruttuoso-San Rocco: altitude 221 m, time required 3 hours.
- San Rocco-Monte di Portofino: altitude 610 m, time required 2 hours.
Other outdoor sport activities
- cycle/mountain biking, horse-riding, canoeing, snorkeling, surfing, diving
- Centro Sport Avventura organizes rafting, canoeing, Kayak along the Vara river
- At the Centro Ippico Val di Vara: riding school and horse rides
- Parco Naturale Regionale di Portovenere: trekking along the park footpaths, Muzzerone climbing sites, sailing and snorkeling
- Parco Avventura Val di Vara (Tree adventures): Tibetan and Nepalese bridges, tightropes, zip lines
- Area 51 Surfing school: group and individual courses for beginners and experts, surfboard and wet suits renting
- Punta Mesco Diving: canyons, shallows, dry walls, caves, wrecks, guided and free diving
- Cartura Diving: guided wrecks and dry walls, diving courses
Genova, 65 kms. An important Mediterranean port as well as a rich artistic city, with historical buildings, gardens and parks.
After a phase of decline, the medieval centre - one of the largest in Europe - has been restored. The art shows of Palazzo Ducale, the Aquarium, the Children Town by the Old Port, and important exhibitions such as “Euroflora” have created new outlets for tourism.
- La Spezia, 25 kms. Marine lovers can visit the Arsenal, the largest one in Italy, while ancient and modern art is well represented at Amedeo Lia Museum. Beautiful excursions in the surroundings are made possible by the numerous boats sailing across the gulf daily.
- Lucca, 90 kms. Rich in monuments and surrounded by fortified walls, almost intact. Town-planning layout is one of the best example of Renaissance architecture.
- Pisa, 100 kms. One of the most well-known art centre in the world. The Campo dei Miracoli, the Cathedral, the Baptistry and the Tower are surely the most impressive monuments of romanesque art.