THE CINQUE TERRE
The Cinque Terre (Five Lands) is a string of 5 fishing villages
perched high on the Italian Riviera which until recently have only
been linked by a mule track and accessible by rail or water. An
ancient system of footpaths is still a good way to visit these
villages or use the inexpensive ferryboats, which run a service from
Lerici or La spezia at the same time taking in the Gulf of Poets.
Breathtaking views of the coastline, medieval fortresses and vibrant
colours make this a memorable day out or more.
Portovenere situated between the Gulf of Poets and the Cinque Terre.
One of the most romantic villages on the Italian Riviera, with its
delightful harbour overlooked by a massive fortress and the church
of San Pietro which was built on the site of a temple to Venus.
The Art Nouveau architecture and Art Deco style along the coast bear
witness to the tradition of Tourism on the Apuan Riviera. In the
summer, the beaches explode with the bright colours of endless rows
of beach umbrellas and sun beds put at tourists' disposal and which
also offer all sorts of facilities for sports and fun activities, in
the shade of the coastal pinewoods.
An ancient hamlet set at the foot of the Apuane Alps. The spa town
has a light scent of sulphur whose waters calms and said to have
restorative and healing powers. There are also gravel walks to the
waterfall and caves where Palaeolithic men and dogs were found.
In the Apuan Alps, the spectacular marble quarries offer an
evocative sight. This precious white stone has been quarried since
Roman times. Since then, it has been used for all sorts of different
purposes - from simple objects to more famous works of art and
architecture. In the art studios of Carrara, at the Marble Museum
and Open Air Exhibition, it is possible to learn about the history
and working of marble.
The city with its appealing main streets is a meeting place full of
shops and any trip would not be complete without a walk around the
Lucca Curtains, its impressive ramparts with its tree lined
promenade, offering fabulous views of the city. The annual music
festival livens the main Piazza during September with renowned bands
and artists. There is a large antiques market around the Duomo every
third weekend of the month. A great way to see the town is to hire a
bicycle, as most of the streets are traffic free. To miss Lucca
would be a shame.
Undoubtedly the leaning tower is its attraction, however there are
elegant 16th century buildings along the banks of the river Arno.
During June there is a special event named San Ranieri, an old
contest held on the Arno with decorated boats covering the river
followed by a costumed procession.
TORRE DEL LAGO
Perhaps the best way to experience opera is outdoors. This
spectacular venue is the lakeside arena in Torre del Lago, a stone's
throw from Puccini's villa. Madam Butterfly, Tosca and Turandot are
all in rep there during the summer.
ORECCHIELLA (NATIONAL PARK)
An easy walk from the Visitor Center leads one to the Botnical
Garden, which highlights the Orecchiella's floral diversity. A
series of trials heads from here to the summit of Pania al Corfino,
a dramatic limestone peak that dominates the Serchio Valley. At over
1600m the Pania is one of the highest peaks in Tuscany, affording
climbers panoramic views of the Serchio river valley and the entire
majestic Apuane Alps range.
The Orecchiella Park has a variety of rare flora, due to the fact
that it is something of an alpine island within a warmer region. In
addition it boasts an array of special fauna, including royal
eagles, royal owls, hawks, deer and more recently introduced rams
APUAN (NATIONAL PARK)
These marble mountains are a jewel, protected by this regional
National Park, making them an ideal destination for nature lovers.
This extraordinary Alpine landscape on the sea encloses an
incredible variety of rare flowers and plants. The mountainsides,
numerous Karst Caves and deep Caverns of the Apuan Alps attract many
speleology and mountain-climbing enthusiasts. Within the park, it is
also possible to go on beautiful walking or horse riding tours.