Cinque Terre's Path of Love is Reopening!

Italy's Famous Path - The Via Amore - will Reopen in 2023.

A Trail Especially Popular With Lovers, Families, Tourists with Mobility Issues. 

El Camino del Amor   Promenade de l'Amour   Weg der Liebe     爱的方式    愛の道     путь любви

Via dell'Amore and the Cinque Terre coast viewed toward Riomaggiore
Via dell'Amore and the Cinque Terre coast viewed toward Riomaggiore. The trail reopens in 2023. CC by Davide Bozzo.

Is the Via Amore open? Is the Via dell'Amore closed? When will the Via Amore reopen? Finally we know when (2023), but why has it been closed so long? Read on, love.

The appeal is immediate to the Cinque Terre attraction called Via dell'Amore (or Via Amore) since it translates so romantically to The Love Trail, The Lovers Walk or The Way of Love.  It's perhaps the most famous trail in Italy and known throughout the world - even though the distance is only one kilometer long and can easily be walked in 30 minutes. This great walkway is one of the reasons the Cinque Terre are a World Heritage Site.

     Essential Stories for a good Cinque Terre visit:
     Every Answer You Need for Your Cinque Terre Trip
     Cinque Terre - 16 Tips for Avoiding the Crowds
     Complete Cinque Terre Ferry Schedules
     See Also: ❇Our Cinque Terre Guide


The Via dell'Amore is the pedestrian path connecting the Cinque Terre villages of Riomaggiore and Manarola. It winds across the rocky face of steep seaside hills and provides panoramic views of the fabulous Cinque Terre coastline. It rises to an altitude of as much as 750 feet above the sea though it's not a steep or strenuous hike. Unfortunately, it has been closed since 2012 due to the risk of landslides. 

The 'Lovers' statue Cinque Terre on The Lovers Walk
The 'Lovers' symbol along The Lovers Walk with padlocks.
Via dell'Amore was an early victim of the viral lock mania.
                                                      CC by  Daniel Stockman
Origins and Closures. 
The walkway began as part of the railway tunnel construction in 1926-1928. It provided access for workers and materials. The explosives used in its construction were also stored along the path - away from the villages in what is now the Bar dell'Amore. Subsequently, the walkway provided the perfect setting for young Italian couples who sought privacy from the prying eyes of a small village - often leaving memorializing graffiti as proof of their fidelity.  In time a journalist who noticed all the amorous graffiti along the path coined the trail’s now-established name, Via dell’Amore.

A Lunch Visit to Chiavari - Our Favorite Ligurian City

Beautiful and Sophisticated - Visit Chiavari to Appreciate Liguria. 

Try Ligurian Specialties at Osteria Luchin - a Chiavari Insitution Since 1907.

Streets with colorful buildings & arcades in Chiavari, Liguria
Behind Piazza Mazzini, the streets become smaller as do the juxtapositions. These card players filled the street with shouts.

Chiavari couldn't be more peaceful. Although it was once a border city with mighty walls to protect against incursions by rivals such as Lavagna just across the Entella river, today it is unwalled and relaxed.  This part of Liguria has many slate quarries so a dark stone predominates, creating a comforting urban gravitas to complement the traditional warm Ligurian colors. Most of the beautiful streets have arcades supported on the street side by squat columns of diverse designs, and in the shadows of the arcades are specialty shops with elaborate old woodwork, bright pastry stores with mouth-watering window displays, and busy cafes with movie-set perfect patrons. On a recent Saturday morning the streets were filled with family after family shopping and doing errands, trailed by socializing pre-teens.

Mazzini speaks still on Piazza Mazzini in Chiavari, Liguria.
Mazzini speaks still in Chiavari, Liguria.
On the central Piazza Mazzini, the outdoor market was in full swing, as it is every morning. The huge assortment of colorful vegetables took up most of the space, but the cheese stands did their best to match the array, and the truck with roast meats added that great aroma to the market vibe.

The buildings around the piazza are a triumph of Ligurian variety. A bold gold building with dramatic window surrounds is next to a centuries old stained stucco building in need of attention, next to a vivid display of trompe l'oeil on a rose colored field..

On the west side is the white mass of the Palazzo di Giustizia. It's tempting to assume it's of ancient medieval origin, but it's from only 1886 in a style called Tuscan Gothic, which we presume is a disguised Italian slur.

A little further west towards the ocean is the Basilica cathedral of Nostra Signora dell'Orto. A very large church, it's not old by Italian measure but pretty interesting. It's origin is the 17th century, but it was refashioned in 1907. This influence provided an art nouveau feeling in the graceful golden embellishment inside.  In one chapel near the alter, there are works by Anton Maria Maragliano of Genoa, one of Liguria's most famous and original sculptors who worked wood in a style all his own.

Trompe l'oeil building facade on Piazza Mazzini in Chiavari, Liguria
Trompe l'oeil building facade on Piazza Mazzini in Chiavari, where the building diversity magically creates a unified city.

Osteria Luchin in Chiavari, Liguria.
Osteria Luchin in Chiavari, Liguria.
When the streets mysteriously become less busy, it means Italy is calling you to lunch. We once again chose a Chiavari institution with good food and an irresistible panache. Osteria Luchin was founded in 1907 and it's still going strong. It's popular because there's something for everyone, a really good variety, all at an affordable rate.  Passing through the doors will feel like passing back through time. It's busy and bustling with long tables used family style.

Menu Notes: many of the daily unique dishes are listed on chalk boards outside, and there's no information inside, so either have a look before you go in, or just wander back out and take your time.  Also. while they have an English language menu, it's not quite the same as the Italian menu, so if you can muddle through in Italian you'll have more choice.

The farinata oven is one of the reasons that Luchin is famous - the chickpea pancake is baked in very heavy pans so that the top gets brown and crispy while the bottom stays creamy and smooth.  We sat near the oven and could watch the whole thing - it's an art to balance the pan, shift it, keep the fire just right.  Lots of people got the farinata as an appetizer, it looked wonderful.

Italian City & Town Guidebooks Reviewed 2019 - Rome, Florence, Venice & More.

What are the Best Travel Guidebooks for Italian Cities & Towns? 

Which Guidebook is Better? Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, DK Eyewitness or Frommer? 

Old Italy Guidebook, The Spell of Southern Shores Caroline Atwater Mason, 1914.
1914 Ms. Mason began in Liguria and visited
Portofino: 'the quaintest fishing village under
the sky'.Cinque Terre was not yet famous.

Let's start off on the right foot: there are no best travel guidebooks. All have strengths and weaknesses, and all travelers have different approaches and needs. We have recently finished our independent review of almost all the popular Italy travel guidebooks. We give you our recommendation along with enough description help you decide if it fits your needs.

We cover everything you need in three articles:

⬥Guidebooks for Italian Cities & Towns (This Article)
⬩Rome ⬩Florence ⬩Venice ⬩Cinque Terre ⬩Naples

⬥Guidebooks for Italy (click)
⬩All of Italy ⬩Best of Italy ⬩Southern Italy
+ Italy Guidebook Series - The Publishers Reviewed
     ⬩Rick Steves ⬩Lonely Planet ⬩Rough Guides
     ⬩DK Eyewitness ⬩Fodor's ⬩Frommer

⬥Guidebooks for Italian Regions (click)
⬩Amalfi Coast ⬩Cinque Terre ⬩Italian Lakes ⬩Liguria, ⬩Puglia ⬩Sardinia ⬩Sicily ⬩Tuscany

Guidebooks for Italy's Regions Reviewed 2019 - Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Sicily & More.

What are the Best Travel Guidebooks for Italian Regions?

Which Guidebook is Better for Driving Through Tuscany or the Italian Lakes?  

Early Italy Guidebook 'The Spell of Southern Shores' 1914
1914 Ms. Mason began in Liguria and visited
Portofino: 'the quaintest fishing village under
the sky'.Cinque Terre was not yet famous.

Let's start off on the right foot: there are no best travel guidebooks. All have strengths and weaknesses, and all travelers have different approaches and needs. We have recently finished our independent review of almost all the popular Italy travel guidebooks. We give you our recommendation along with enough description help you decide if it fits your needs.

We cover everything you need in three articles:

⬥Guidebooks for Italian Regions (This Article)
⬩Amalfi Coast ⬩Cinque Terre ⬩Italian Lakes ⬩Liguria, ⬩Puglia ⬩Sardinia ⬩Sicily ⬩Tuscany

⬥Guidebooks for Italian Cities & Towns (click)
⬩Rome ⬩Florence ⬩Venice ⬩Cinque Terre ⬩Naples

⬥Guidebooks for Italy (click)
⬩All of Italy  ⬩Best of Italy   ⬩Southern Italy
+Publishers of Italy Guidebook Series Reviewed
⬩Rick Steves ⬩Lonely Planet ⬩Rough Guides
⬩DK Eyewitness ⬩Fodor's ⬩Frommer's

Best Italy Guidebooks 2019 Reviewed - Advice on Choosing & Planning.

What's the Top Italy Travel Guidebook for Rome, Florence & Venice? 

Which Is Recommended? Rick Steves Italy guidebook or Lonely Planet Italy guidebook? 

Early Italy Guidebook 'The Spell of Southern Shores' 1914
1914 Ms. Mason began in Liguria and visited
Portofino: 'the quaintest fishing village under
the sky'.Cinque Terre was not yet famous.
Let's start off on the right foot: there are no best travel guidebooks. All have strengths and weaknesses, and all travelers have different approaches and needs. We have recently completed our independent review of almost all the popular Italy travel guidebooks. We give you our recommendation along with enough description help you decide if it fits your needs.

We cover everything you need in three articles:

⬥Guidebooks for Italy (This Article)
⬩All of Italy  ⬩Best of Italy   ⬩Southern Italy
+Publishers of Italy Guidebook Series Reviewed
⬩Rick Steves ⬩Lonely Planet ⬩Rough Guides
⬩DK Eyewitness ⬩Fodor's ⬩Frommer's

⬥Guidebooks for Italian Cities & Towns (Click)
⬩Rome ⬩Florence ⬩Venice ⬩Cinque Terre ⬩Naples

⬥Guidebooks for Italian Regions (Click)
⬩Amalfi Coast ⬩Cinque Terre ⬩Italian Lakes ⬩Liguria, ⬩Puglia ⬩Sardinia ⬩Sicily ⬩Tuscany

▸Guidebooks in each category are in order of preference.▸All books have Paperback and Kindle editions.
▸ On Amazon UK the Kindle editions may be in the Kindle store.
▸Clicking links doesn't affect the price, but helps us help travelers. See About Us and Disclosure below.
▸See Who Are The Reviewers below to read about the criteria of the reviewers.

⬥Italy - Entire Country - The Best Guidebooks

No guidebook fully covers all of Italy. Use the Amazon 'Look Inside' feature to see the Table of Contents or Index to make sure your areas of interest are covered.
Early Italy Guidebook 'The Spell of Sicily' 1922
1922 Monroe had a special perspective on
Sicily. A Stanford-educated Professor of
Psychology, he wrote 5 books on Europe.

Italy Lonely Planet 2018 (Amazon US)  (Amazon UK)  (UK Kindle Store)
Color  992 pages    27 oz.   Feb. 2018 (next edition 2020)
Approachable and fairly thorough with straight ahead writing. The comprehensive coverage has good clear maps interspersed in the articles and it includes more out of the way sights. The index can be somewhat spotty.

Italy Rick Steves 2019  (Amazon US) (Amazon UK)  (UK Kindle Store)
Mostly B/W     1244 pages      21 oz.     2019 (next edition late 2019)
Complete info on the frequently visited sites in Italy presented in an effective format. The writing imparts a feeling because the places are actually selected by RS himself. Includes excellent maps, suggested itineraries, good info on opening hours, fees, etc. They don't include many of the less traveled places.  No coverage on Sicily, Sardinia, or Puglia (Apulia).

Dining with Artusi - Where Italian Cookbooks Began.

Enjoy The Original Artusi Recipes from 'The Art of Eating Well'. 

Visit the Restaurant or Fabulous Festival Dedicated to Artusi in his Emilia-Romagna Hometown. 

The Founder of Italian Cooking with 'L'arte di Mangiar Bene' Becomes Real for Food Lovers.

In a country of epic heroes, grand empires, and daring military conquests one of my very favorite famous people is a mild mannered retired silk merchant who enjoyed eating the local dishes when he traveled around Italy in the 1800's.

Why is he of any note? Because he is Pellegrino Artusi - the author of  'Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well' (La Scienza in cucina e l'Arte di mangiar bene).  Today anyone with a word processor and access to the internet can be a culinary author - I'm guilty myself. But in Artusi's day it was a new concept, and although to the modern reader the recipes sometimes appear a bit vague (a pinch of salt, cook until done) they were marvels of precision in their day.

Not only that, he was so committed to his endeavor that when publishers rejected his book, he self-published the work. One of the best-selling non-fiction books in Italian history - in 1891.

And today in his hometown, there's a restaurant that offers dishes made from his original recipes, as well as a large festival dedicated to Pellegrino Artusi.

Pellegrino Artusi's 1846 Papal State passport from Pope Pius IX
Artusi's 1846 passport from Pope Pius IX was
required to travel the Italian peninsula even
from the Papal State to the Duchy of Tuscany!

Artusi oversaw the recipes, while his cook and butler, Marietta Sabatini and Francesco Ruffili, measured, recorded, tested, tasted, tweaked, and refined. Not only was the approach new, the timing for a national cuisine was perfect: Italy had been fully unified only in 1871, and 20 years later his book was on sale to the first truly Italian generation. Making Italy into a unified nation was a long process that continues to this day. To form a modern republic from the individualistic dominions that had occupied the Italian peninsula for centuries presented some serious assimilation issues.

Recognizing dishes from any region other than Tuscany as Italian was radically inclusive. Recipes from Piemonte, Liguria, Calabria, even Sardinia and Sicily were included in a book about Italian food! Artusi is widely recognized as one of the important cultural unifying forces in changing Italy from an area of fiefdoms and regions into a national entity. He wrote engagingly and fluently in the new “Italian” language, was elegant and polished and comprehensible, and he interspersed his recipes with anecdotes and reflections to make the book enjoyable reading.

Rocca Albornoziana  fortress of Forlimpopoli, Emilia-Romagna.
The Rocca Albornoziana  in the center of Forlimpopoli, Emilia-Romagna.
The 14th Century fortress is surrounded by the Artusi Festa each June.
Artusi was born in 1820, when the world was very different. His hometown, Forlimpopoli, was close to Bologna, and after a prosperous and comfortable childhood he spent a lot of time in Bologna, socializing with the students at the University and enjoying life. So far, so good, but in 1851 there was a famous bandit called “ Il Passatore”, The Smuggler, who terrorized the wealthy. The Smuggler came to Forlimpopoli with his band of thugs and raided the local theatre on the night of a popular play. He held the audience hostage until they paid up, then released them slowly, and his men attacked and raped some of the young women. Artusi's sister Gertrude was among the victims of the vicious attack, and never recovered; she was institutionalized for life. The times were violent, disorderly, dangerous, and it was no coincidence that the next year the family moved to Firenze.

A Classic Italian Hike for Families, Couples, Trekkers.

A Guide to One of Italy's Best Easy Hike Destinations. 

  A Great Thing To Do with Children & Teens. A Stunning Picnic Spot. 

An Excellent Attraction near Reggio Emilia (1 hr.)  Parma & Modena (1¼)  Liguria & Lunigiana (1½).  

The Pietra of Bismantova provides spectacular views & an easy hike.
The Pietra of Bismantova provides spectacular views, but the easiest trail only takes 20 minutes and it's family friendly.

Treat yourself and your family to one of the great natural attractions of Italy. This spectacular geologic feature will remain in your memory and your photos for much longer than a postcard or the next spaghetti bolognese.

The oddly named Stone of Bismantova will surprise you with a majesty that speaks to the nature in your soul. It stands above its surroundings as a sentinel, as a symbol, as an aspiration. Primitive man climbed it, ascetics were drawn to it, local culture incorporated it, Italian youth are introduced to nature by it, and you can easily experience it for yourself.

The Pietra of Bismantova dominates the surrounding area
Dante alluded to the mountain as Purgatory and the top as the
Garden of Eden. So says every hiker.  CC by Paolo da Reggio
You will see its unmistakable form rising isolated from the landscape from miles away. The Pietra dominates the surrounding area - overlooking it from a height of about 300 meters (1,000 feet) and many sections of the cliffs are 100 meters high!  It is roughly one kilometer long by 240 meters wide.

The unique shape is due to the type of limestone which forms the mountain. Simply put, it resisted erosion better than the surrounding area over the last 20 million years. The rock was formed from sediments in an ancient sea and there are fossils in some areas as well as visible patterns from undersea currents during deposition. The rocks are partly sandstone but mostly calcarenite which is the limestone equivalent of sandstone. This is formed from deposits of carbonate bits that were pressed together into rock from diverse sources such as sand-sized limestone fragments, shells, corals, shark teeth, oodles of ooids (precipitated calcite), etc.

Of course, it was inhabited by prehistoric people - there's a Copper & Bronze Age archeological site and a necropolis near the Pietra's base at Campo Pianelli.  Subsequently, there's evidence that site was used by Etruscans and Celtic-Ligurian tribes. Naturally, the Pietra was fortified, probably until the 15th C. - first by the Romans, then the Byzantines, the Longobards, then Charlemagne, and finally by Matilda of Canossa. There little evidence left of the fortifications today.

The views from the cliffs of Italy's Bismantova are endless.
The views from the top of Bismantova are endless.

For the surrounding towns. the history concerning the Pietra is religious - involving devotion and pilgrimage to the Madonna della Pietra. The Eremo di Bismantova (Hermitage) at the base was established by Benedictines in the 1400's and rebuilt in the 1600's. There are frescos inside from the 1400's, including a depiction of the Madonna. Today, the Eremo is part of the Marian order.

Dante Alighieri visited Pietra di Bismantova in 1307. The Mountain of Purgatorio, mentioned in Canto IV of Purgatorio in the "Divine Comedy", was seemingly inspired by Pietra's unique formation. As if to inspire hikers, the Garden of Eden was located on top.

In the last few centuries, the summit was only used for grazing which explains the nice pastures and the easy views we enjoy. Slowly, the trees are regaining control, but it's slow going due to the altitude and the nearby Alps.  Today the Pietra di Bismantova is protected as part of the National Park of the Apennines. Parco Nazional Apennino Tosco-Emiliano (EN)

The starting point of Pietra di Bismantova activity is Piazzale Dante at the end of Via Bismantova in Castelnovo ne' Monte (RE). See GETTING THERE below. There is free parking as well as the Eremo (Hermitage) nearby, the Rifugio di Bismantova bar-restaurant and the Albergo Forestiera.

Before you go: Download this Pietra Bismantova Hiking Map to a portable device. Why? It is clearer than the posted map on site, and there are no trail signs or maps on the actual summit. There are also no services on the summit, so at least take sufficient water with you.

The easy hiking trail on Italy's Pietra di Bismantova in October.
The easy hiking trail on Italy's Pietra di Bismantova in October.

This is an active recreational attraction, so there are several choices.  The most popular climb is a section of Trail 697 which angles directly to the top. It's the shortest, it's not particularly hard, and takes about 20 minutes. The second most popular is the 6 km. 'L'anello della Pietra' (Ring around the Stone) using Trail 697 which combines a very scenic nature walk around the Pietra with a visit to the summit. It takes about 2 hours.  Both routes leave from Piazzale Dante and below we describe both ascents, as well as the most popular part of the summit and the descent they share. We think school-aged children who like hiking will have no problems with these two hikes.

Other recreational options include:
-Several other trails, such as Trail 699, which are steeper, rockier, and reach the top from different directions.
-Two via ferrata routes are in place for an alpine experience (i.e. straight up).
-There are also many sport rock climbing opportunities on the cliffs with numerous bolts apparent.
-Climbing (bouldering) is also an attraction on the gigantic fallen rocks around the base of the Pietra.

A Beautiful Seaside Walk from Rapallo to Santa Margherita.

The Red Carpet Walk from Rapallo to Santa Margherita & Portofino.  

A Great Thing to Do - Explore Between Rapallo & Santa Margherita.

 Enjoy the Attraction of Villas, Free Beaches, Grand Hotels and a Baroque Church.

Aerial of San Michele di Pagana with Pomaro, Trelo (Travello), & Prelo Bays.  Beyond is Santa Margherita & Parco Naturale di Portofino.
A beautiful coastal walk through San Michele di Pagana with its three bays: R. to L. Pomaro, Trelo (Travello), & Prelo.
Santa Margherita is beyond with Parco Naturale di Portofino as a backdrop. Photo: Archivio Storico della Regione Liguria.

It's now a pleasure to walk from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure (SML) along the coast between these pretty Ligurian towns - thanks to recent sidewalk improvements. The walk was inaugurated with the World's Longest Red Carpet - 8 km. from Rapallo to SML to Portofino. The carpet is gone now, of course, but the beauty remains.  This article covers the first half of the coastal walk, the second half is our popular article  Walk or Hike from Santa Margherita to Portofino  which also describes an easy hill hike with beautiful overviews.

The route is full of sea scenes and garden glimpses and villa views so you can really get a feel for this beautiful area.  We recently explored it and we discovered four free beaches (spiaggia libera); a WWI Memorial forest; a Baroque church; and all the while we were surrounded by grand mansions and hotels, gardens and the sea. 

Villa Lagomaggiore in Rapallo on Capo Pomaro (Punta Logon).
Our walk passes inland behind Villa Lagomaggiore on Capo Pomaro.
The walk is great for both kids and adults and the hills are gentle. This route is about 3 km. (2 miles) and it can be done in 45 minutes, but don't you dare hurry. Allow 90 minutes to be leisurely, and it's easy to spend a couple of hours if you are experienced in smelling the roses. It is quite doable with a stroller except harder in the Punta Pagana section where there are two short sandy beaches and two staircases. There are some services at the first beach at Pomaro about 1/3 of the way, but bring some water anyway.

You can create a personalized round trip using the bus that runs along the seaside road or by boarding the ferry at SML or Rapallo or Portofino. See the links at MORE INFO below.

We begin on the western side of Rapallo - across the canal-like Boate river - where we follow Corso Cristoforo Colombo as it heads toward the sea from the intersection with Via Aurelia Occidental. This is near the Hotel Stella and there are blue traffic signs pointing the way to SML and Portofino. As you start, there are good views of Rapallo's extensive harbor which is a major port for private boats of every description and tax bracket. Soon the road  curves away uphill past the Hotel Excelsior Palace. Corso Colombo changes names, but it's always the largest choice. It's known later as Via San Michele di Pagana then as Via Bridiga Morello a/k/a Strada Provinciale 227 (SP227).

We walk all the way from Rapallo to SML on the sidewalk along this road and we just take one detour at Travello. We describe several sights you will miss without that detour around Punta Pagana (a small peninsula), and we add details on some places you'll see along the way.