One Hundred Years of Happy Eating in Sarzana

La Scaletta - a Restaurant Institution in Ligurian Lunigiana  

Trattoria La Scaletta  Sarzana, Liguria
Trattoria La Scaletta  Sarzana, Liguria.
Pretty, narrow country roads of Sarzana are only minutes away from the historic center, and as you leave the last vestiges of town, you’ll find a blind corner and a stairway with an open gate. Just around that corner is the parking for the very affordable Trattoria La Scaletta. Pull in and start relaxing. According to the manager, this restaurant has been in business for over a hundred years at the same location, and when you look around the simple dining room full of people enjoying lunch, you can believe it. The ambiance is fresh, clean, and straight ahead –  each table is set with a business-like oil, vinegar, salt and pepper - with bright sheets of plastic covering the tablecloths,. The décor is interesting, a little plain, a little idiosyncratic, with oddly hung paintings and prints of landscapes, clowns, farms. In warm weather a huge side porch provides an airy alternative to indoor dining.

The Best Portovenere Restaurant not in Portovenere

A Ligurian Seafood Restaurant to Remember. 

In the little port of Le Grazie, a part of Historic Portovenere near Cinque Terre.

Antipasti misti di mare at Il Gambero Restaurant, Le Grazie, Portovenere
The Antipasti misti di mare at Il Gambero in the little port of Le Grazie, Portovenere, Liguria. 
Italy is famous for wonderful seafood, and Liguria is one of the absolute best places to find a great variety of fresh fish and shellfish.  The puzzle is finding a restaurant that adds unique flavors and textures to your lovely dinner while remaining affordable.  Thanks to the advice of our friend Julie-of-Perpetual-Travel, we recently enjoyed a real winner, and after a couple of visits, we know Il Gambero is going to be a regular on our restaurant rotation.


Il Gambero restaurant, Le Grazie, Portovenere
The Il Gambero dining room is cozy and welcoming.
Il Gambero is in a frazione of the town of Portovenere called Le Grazie – and it is truly graceful as the name implies.  The little port is well back on the peninsula from the ancient city of Porto Venere*  so that the driving and parking are not a major problem. Our Story: Portovenere Travel Guide.

Le Grazie is situated on a small harbor with a nice walk along its perimeter.  The restaurant is on the harbor road, right across from the water, and it’s rather small so reservations are a very good idea. There are two dining rooms inside, and half dozen tables outside. The staff is wonderfully friendly - you'll relax in a second.

Born in Lunigiana: The Happy Wife of Ham

Inventive Salumi Artisan Creates the Best in Italian Quality  

The Macelleria Elena & Mirco in Castelnuovo Magra
Macelleria Elena & Mirco in Castelnovo Magra near the Tuscan border. 
Only in Italy would a life-long devotion to producing pork products be considered an art.  We met an artist / salumiere who combines craftsmanship, art, experimentation, and imagination to reach the ultimate mastery of the meaty genre.  At a small salumeria in the Ligurian town of Castelnovo Magra, Mirco Bertini is at the top of his game.  He has devoted more than 20 years to developing prosciutto, pancetta, sausages, and the like, and they are ethereal bits of Mediterranean heaven.

Signor Bertini is so devoted, he needed a new word to distinguish his product from prosciutto - thus was born his amazing Prosciutta.  As Mirco puts it (loosely translated) "The Prosciutta is the happy wife of ham . It's the perfect fusion of the Ligurian tradition with that of Tuscany: it is a meat unmistakable for its delicate aroma and delicious taste.”

La Spezia Celebrates the 450th San Giuseppe Fair

La Spezia & The St. Joseph Fair 2015

Italy's Largest Fair Draws Vendors from Every Region

This year's edition of the Fiera di San Giuseppe in La Spezia is coming up. This is one of the largest fairs in Europe and it's 'in the DNA of every Spezzino'. This year there are more than 630 vendors coming from all over Italy and some from France, taking up more than 15,000 sq. meters. Over 150 vendors will offer clothing, but more importantly about 57 will offer porchetta! There will be exotic fruit at lots of stands, but only a few will offer wrought iron - go figure.

Many other activities are available besides the vendors - such as concerts and tours organized by Istituzione per i Servizi Culturali. Many are oriented toward kids, but early info is scarce. To give you an idea, there's a schedule below that was released last year just before the Fair started. In past years, one very popular feature has been the opening of the Arsenale Militare Marittimo (Naval Arsenal) for one day, as it is the home port of the Italian tall ship Amerigo Vespucci. We were again unable to confirm this year's opening, but it has happened regularly and would likely occur on Saturday or Sunday.

Hotel Recommendations · Portovenere Lerici La Spezia

Explore the Cinque Terre by Ferry Boat and Avoid the Crowds 

Guide to the Towns & Our Hotel Selections on the Gulf of the Poets  

The big question for a Cinque Terre vacation is Where to Stay? You can visit the Cinque Terre villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso while you stay in a charming seaside town without the crowd worry. There are several lovely seaside towns a short, beautiful ferry ride away. To help you plan your visit, here's a quick summary of three communities around the Gulf of La Spezia: Portovenere, Lerici, and La Spezia. For each town we suggest some hotels to review with a short description to help you narrow the choices. There are links to helpful articles along with each town and below in More Info. You'll really enjoy this area of Italy; we know because we've been coming to this part of Liguria for 25 years. See About Us & Disclosure below.

Camogli to San Fruttuoso Ferry Boats with Recco & Portofino

Camogli Travel Guide with Boat Schedules & Prices 

Connect to Portofino, Santa Margherita, Rapallo and Portofino National Park. 

Camogli San Fruttuoso Ferry Times /  Battelli, Traghetti Orari 2015 /  Fähre Zeitplan 2015

Camogli, Liguria, Italy. Oratorio of San Prospero.
Camogli. Oratorio of San Prospero.

Whether you are hiking or sightseeing, a boat trip along the scenic Liguria coast will insure a memorable vacation visit. One good excursion is from Camogli to San Fruttuoso Abbey. Below is all the tourist information you need for this and other boat trips on the north side of the Portofino peninsula using regular (no reservation) ferry boat service. These ferry boats connect the port of Recco and the port of Camogli to Punta Chiappa hikes, San Fruttuoso Abbey, and the village of Portofino on boats operated by Golfo di Paradiso Trasporti.

You can easily connect to the south side of the peninsula (Rapallo, Santa Margherita, Portofino) at San Fruttuoso and enjoy the fabulous ferry trip to Portofino and Santa Margherita. These routes are covered by our article on SMT ferries: Link: Portofino Ferry Boat Schedules from Rapallo and Santa Margherita.

The Blue Line ferry boats operate between Recco & Camogli to Punta Chiappa & San Fruttuoso.

The Green Line is an excursion originating in Genoa that allows a round trip from Recco & Camogli to Portofino via San Fruttuoso. (Typically a Camogli to Portofino trip is made by changing boat lines at San Fruttuoso).