Italy Retreat in Cinque Terre and Italian Riviera

In just two days, we will be arriving in the Cinque Terre for our ITALY RETREAT for women to live la dolce vita!

The retreat runs from September 11 to 19, 2010. In addition to 15 hours of workshop time focused on breaking free from limiting beliefs and creating the sweet life wherever we are, we travel to eight cities on the Italian Riviera.

The average temperatures in Monterosso during September is 75 degrees F. and average lows are 66 degrees F.

Our travel plans include an eight-city tour of the Italian Riviera, in the Northwestern region of ITALY, called Liguria. There are actually 20 regions of Italy that all used to be separate city/states. Word is that the best tasting pesto is made in Liguria. The locals use a mortar and pestle to make it, and the ancient soft and porous stones in the soil mixed with salt air results in excellent tasting basil and other herbs.

Our 15 hours of workshop activities will help you transform your life, break free from past limitations, and be happy beyond belief.I include exercises to live la dolce vita, the sweet life, wherever you are, in whatever situation you find yourself in.

The quality of the light in The Cinque Terre (five lands) makes everything sparkle like a jewel. Included in the Italian Riviera travel schedule of our Italy Retreat, we will visit four of the five Cinque Terre villages. In order from north to south are: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia (not visiting), Manarola, and Rio Maggiore.

The five villages are picture perfect. Houses are lively colorful displays that look like master paintings with village scenes set on the sides of Mediterranean mountains. Locals are proud of their quaint stores where they sell their local treasures made of olive wood and other local materials.They offer products like wine, olive oil, limoncello, honey and so much more. Each village and other towns to the north and south, are connected by hiking trails. We will hike some of them.

I’m just going to mention a few points about each unforgettable town.

1.Monterosso:Monterosso beaches are the best in the Cinque Terre.Beaches are free only where you see NO umbrellas.We went to the free beach under Il Casello Restaurant near Vernazza trailhead, five minutes from our hotel.As you face the town with the sea behind you, it’s on the far right.The New Town is to the right of the train station and the historic area is to the left. (Hotel La Colonnina is in the historic part of town right off Piazza Garibaldi.)

2. VernazzaSmall but quaint. We will take a ferry here from Monterosso, and shop on the small main street of town.Climb the steep steps for a majestic view.This community was formed around the year 1000 and there are about 500 residents during the summer months. Vineyards fill the mountainside beyond the town. Love the cute shops here. Climb the stairs or walk up to the connecting trailheads.

3. Manarola Walking from Riomaggiore on the Via Dell’Amore, a very easy paved hiking trail, we round the bend and there appears a magical-looking Shangrila-like village of colorful houses on the side of a mountain. It’s deep water swimming area is reached from large boulders, no beach. Cinque Terre National Park group creates natural skincare products and their office/store is at the end of the trail in Manarola near the train tunnel.Boats park on the streets, and then each boat is hoisted down on a pulley to drop it into the sea below for its owner to bring in the catch of the day.

We will hike here from Rio Maggiore on the Via Dell’ Amore (path of love).It’s so breathtaking to be walking and suddenly in the distance view a Shangri-la–seemingly growing out of the mountainside.Several wonderful restaurants here.Instead of parked cars you’ll see parked boats on the streets.There’s no beach here but stairs lead down to huge rocks for sunbathing.

4. Rio MaggioreA tunnel filled with art and mosaics line the tunnel leading to the Via dell’Amore to begin our hike to Manarola.It’s an easy 20 minute walk along dramatic cliffs, with jaw-dropping views that meet the blue waters of the Mediterranean.We’ll take a group photo and can climb down some of the huge boulders along the trail. This is a very hilly town with a hilltop botanical garden that can be reached by bus. Walk the path around the upper town and shop at some very cute stores.

5. San Frutuosso We’ll visit the 13th century Abbey of San Fruttuoso. We’ll swim in the turquoise waters at the cove here, and eat focaccia and peaches for lunch on the beach. Or we can choose to eat pesto lasagna at the only restaurant in this glorious cove!So many delicious choices to live la dolce vita. There is a short trail to hike in the hilltops above the abbey and a museum to visit.

6. Portofino (Rodeo Drive of the Italian Riviera). It’s a small harbor but most famous.Fishermen’s homes have been transformed into expensive boutiques carrying Gucci and Pucci designs. The movie, “Enchanted April” was filmed here!. I suggest you watch it if you have time. It’s a story of four British women who escape the dreary winter weather of England to live for a month in Portofino (exact location not mentioned in the movie). We’ll visit a castle and church at the top of the hill.

7. Santa Marguerita is known for its orange blossoms and beachfront promenade. It is about 20 miles south of Genoa, home of Christopher Columbus.

8. Portovenere (Port of Venus). One of the most romantic picturesque villages on the Ligurian coast, with narrow streets filled with wonderful shops. There are unforgettable views from the 16th Century castle on top of the cliffs.

Roman legend has it that Venus emerged from the sea here.You’ll feel a deep feminine presence that really is palpable.

We spend some time writing here just like the romantic poets Shelly, D.H. Lawrence and Lord Byron. In addition, many women writers and artists today set up shop in Portovenere to work on their creative projects.

Liguria is a magical place and we all enjoy it more if we get in shape and walk for several miles a day months before we leave. The reason is that we do a good amount of walking and hiking on hilly streets, trails, and steps! But, we always take plenty of gelato and coffee breaks along the way. So, if you’re thinking of traveling to Cinque Terre, just start walking now! You’ll have more fun when you arrive.

To see a list of recommended non-fiction books about Italy, and more Italy photos, look to the right hand column on this page and scroll. Rick Steves’ Italy is filled with self-guided walking tours of towns throughout Italy. He really popularized the Cinque Terre for Americans. Eyewitness Travel Guide ITALY or Fodors ITALY are all fun travel books filled with maps, history, and suggestions for travels in Italy.

Have you traveled to the Cinque Terre? Where is your favorite place? I’ll keep you posted as we explore paradise on the Ligurian Coast of Italy.

(Photo) I took in 2009 from path above Monterosso near the monastery.

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