The Island of Palmaria in the Golfo dei Poeti, SP, Italy

A few hundred metres off the coast of the town of Portovenere lies Palmaria, the largest of the three islands in the Golfo dei Poeti at 1.9 sq km. The archipelago is part of the same UNESCO world heritage site as Portovenere and the Cinque Terre. We took the little ferry boat over for lunch…

Mary Shelly’s San Terenzo, Frazione of Lerici

San Terenzo is a frazione of Lerici that we often walk to via the waterfront boardwalk from downtown. Mary Shelly, English author best known for Frankenstein and political radical, moved here in 1818 with her husband Percy Bysshe Shelly. She left shortly after his untimely drowning death near Viareggio (just south of here) in 1822.

A Visit to Castelnuovo Magra, SP, Italy

Castelnuovo Magra is a Ligurian hilltop town easily recognizable from the Magra River Valley below. It has a big castle tower on the north side and a big church tower on the south side. We went up and checked it out.  

The Ancient Hilltop Town of Volterra in PI, Tuscany, Italy

Perched on a peak with panoramic views of the Tuscan landscape lies Volterra, a walled hilltop town with plenty of ancient sites. We stopped on the way from Lerici down to Rome and spent our time eating delicious food and admiring the glorious views. 

The Medieval Borgo of Certaldo in FL, Tuscany, Italy

2017 has been declared l’Anno dei Borghi – the year of ancient villages – by the Italian Government Culture Minister, coinciding with the UN’s Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. We visited one of Tuscany’s many hilltop borghi, a borgo named Certaldo. 

Salvador Daliance in Pietrasanta of the Apuan Alps in Tuscany, Italy

Local folklore has it that the elite population of Pietrasanta has always spent their summer mornings luxuriating on the golden beaches of Marina di Pietrasanta (on Italy’s west coast near Viareggio) and their afternoons steeped in culture in the town of Pietrasanta (located 3 km inland in the last foothills of the marble-rich Apuan Alps)….

At the edge of the Alps in Rota D’imagna, Lombardy, Italy

Clean mountain air and stunning vistas out over the Imagna Valley are two of the best things about a visit to Hotel Miramonte in Rota D’imagna. The wonderful restaurant and fantastic spa don’t hurt either! We spent 3 glorious nights at this family-run hotel and can highly recommend it.

City on high: Città Alta, Bergamo in Lombardy, Italy

The upper city of Bergamo, Città Alta is a UNESCO world heritage site located in the foothills of the Alps northeast of Milan. It’s surrounded by 16th century Venetian Walls and beautiful views beyond that. Well worth a visit!

The beasts of Fiesole, Firenze, Italy

High in the hills on the northeastern edge of Florence is the scenic Etruscan town of Fiesole. Conquered by Romans in 283 BC, it was once a powerful independant town that rivaled Firenze. Their skirmishes led Dante to reference “the beasts of Fiesole” in his Divine Comedy.