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the cinque terre


circeplum
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i'm visiting the cinque terre - 5 divine little towns in liguria - in september, specifically monterosso.  i haven't been in this part of the world since i was a poverty-stricken student gazing like a bisto kid at the seafront restaurants.  

though not exactly loaded, i'd like to check out some really good restaurants in the area.  any info?

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Circeplum, I have a good one for you in Pietrasanta, maybe just 30km. away towards Tuscany.It's called "Martinatica", owned by a woman chef. It is a charming, if a bit tattered, reconverted mill in a very rustic setting about five km. east of the picturesque town center. We had a delicious lunch about two years ago. We felt very fortunate to have picked it out of the Michelin. You can get the basic information from the viaMichelin web site.

A restaurant also near Cinqueterre, Paracucci/Locanda da' Angelo, has a large reputation. For us, however, it didn't deliver. They put a more expensive wine on our bill, something I noticed when I checked out the next morning. It is in a terrible light-industry surrounding in a brute, ugly concrete strucuture built in the 1970s when that sort of architecture was in fashion. The food we also found to be mediocre.

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Circeplum - I had several wondeful meals in Riomaggiore at a restaurant called "La Lanterna". It is down at the habour (if you can call it that), so if you book ahead you can get a patio table (there are only four of these) and have a wonderful evening meal. Several dishes have to be ordered ahead also (like fish, mantis shrimp, shrimp, squat lobster, cuttle-fish in a saffron and tomato stock, all cooked together in a terra cotta amphora) Also good and cheap is the restaurant right at the top of Venazza (sorry, can't remember the name), you can't miss it as it is near the tower on the path on the way to Corniglia :smile: .

Cinque terra has had a significant increase in the amount of tourism over the last few years. So be prepare to walk the coastal paths early in the day to beat the rush. It is also best to book restaurants, as they fill up early as well. Have a fantastic time, I love Cinque terra, even with the increased amount of tourists.

Ooooh, if you see it,  get the "Cerdoicello", like limoncello but light green in colour (being made from Cedro (=Citron)). Very tasty.

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For me the best restaurant in the Cinque Terre is called "Cappun Magru - a Casa di Marin."

It is literally in a house where the chef and his wife live and where he was born. The cuisine is based on seafood with many touches that show an understanding and interest in the traditions of the land. It's located in Riomaggiore (the precise location is Groppo) but quite out of town (it is reachable by car from La Spezia).

The tel. is 0187920563 and a reservation is required (ask them if they will serve their cappun magru, the most elaborate seafood salad in traditional italian cooking).

Francesco

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  • 3 months later...

Whilst in that area you could take a trip to Santa Marghera. On the sea front above a fishmongers there's one of the best sea food restaurants I have ever been at (not surprising with the fishmongers below!). I can't remember the name but, believe me, there's only one on top of a fishmongers on the sea front.

They do a seafood pasta and, for once, this can also be a main course because there's lobsters (on the shell), clams, mussels and that other good stuff mixed in with the tomato-based dish and it's truly something else. Nice place too (not deluxe but great ambiente) and not expensive.

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My wife and I spent a very enjoyable 5 days in the cinque (vernazza) in late May this year.

Loved the walking - you must go on the high tracks above the towns and not just the over -run touristy tracks which keep to lower climes.

Restaurants in general were pretty average dishing out generally safe touristy type seafood plates. The two exceptions we found were slightly off the beaten track. One ot Cornelgia which is the least visited town of the 5 (because it's on a high cliff rather than down at sealevel withg a beautiful harbour.

The name of the restaurant was "Osteria a Cantina de Mananan". Only holds about 10 tables run by a lovely husband and wife team who cook honest, local food that is incredibly fresh. They have no printed menu as dishes change on a daily basis based on what's available at the markets etc. I had rabbit and it was suberb as was the black-ink pasta (mermaid tresses?) with pippis, clams and mussels. A review was published in the wine spectator at the following site which has a whole article on the cinqu terre.

http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Main/Fea...197,168,00.html

The other restaurant was in Levanto which is not part of the cinque( a pity) but is the next stop on the railway towards Positano - a sort of "chabby-chique" resort town that probably has seen better days - but all the better for it i think.

The restaurant is solely seafood and is operated by the same person who owns the best wine shop on the Ligurian coast for tuscan wines. it is called : Osteria Tumelin. I ordered the fish of the day and loved how thery brought out on a huge platter of about 10 different types of whole fresh fish and you decided which one you wanted. The seafood pasta dishes were also superb. You can find more out about it at www.tumelin.com

have a great holiday.

Cheers

Paul

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  • 1 month later...

oh, i was hoping nobody would notice ...

i realised when i was there that i've been spoilt for italy by london's overblown cornucopia. for the first week i happily went plundering: ciak in monterosoo, mikey in monterosso, and the osteria manana as recommended by episyd. a langoustine risotto at mikey was one of the best dishes i've experienced in ages; it was cooked in a way unfamiliar to me - in a vast earthenware pot under a lid of dough, a bit like the indian dum pukt (sp?). the rice was nutty, the langoustine sweet and there were little flecks of peperoncino. amazing.

but i'm afraid that was as good as it got for me: i didn't get to many of the other suggestions due to our being transportless and with small children. (this was by no means the original plan ...) in any case, within a couple of days i found myself aching for lemon grass, or tamarind, or ginger, or any flavouring that wasn't in the cinque terre canon. and i truly never want to see pesto again.

london diners become novelty seekers without being aware of it. it's very difficult to get excited about a new restaurant when you know that its menu - and even decor - will be virtually a carbon copy of the previous one. i suppose it's that old sex/food analogy - you're constantly looking for new thrills.:blink:

i apologise profusely for my jadedness - i know i sound spoilt and petulant. i hope the italians will forgive me. it's central london wot's to blame.:sad:

i came home and just couldn't wait to dive into a full-on curry. :huh:

gee, adam - i wish you hadn't asked. and i wish there were an emoticon for 'worried about italian wrath'. my mother will kill me.

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my mother will never willingly acknowledge that there's anything in italy with which she's not intimately familiar. :wink:

she said it's a method of oven-cooking risotto which obviates the standing at the stove palaver without any danger of it drying out. in any case, it was spectacularly good.

as to edinburgh - i'm from glasgow, so i know where you're coming from (literally ...)

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  • 8 months later...

I'm planning on visiting the Cinque Terre and/or surrounding area with my girlfriend in early September. Our knowledge of the area is pretty minimal at the moment so we haven't decided on a particular town to stay in.

Neither of us drive, so we want to stay somewhere close to a beach and within walking distance of some decent places to eat and drink.

Can anyone recommend some inexpensive hotels which might fit our needs? Is it worth us spending a few nights in two or more places or choosing one as a base and then exploring other places by train?

Any restaurant recommendations further to the ones above would also be gratefully received!

Thanks

James

Edited by jamesmarsh (log)
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Wonderful choice, the Cinque Terre is one of my favorite spots in Europe. No need for a car, the towns are inaccessible by car, take the train to La Spezia and then the local train to any of the little villages. All of the villages are so charming, quaint, all along the Mediterranean. You can walk between them, about a 30 minute walk between each.

My favorite of all of them is Manarola, a town that time has passed by. There is a wonderful little hotel, the Andrean, right in the village with very friendly hosts. And a wonderful seaside restaurant, Piccola Marina, what a great environment, right on the water!! Staying overnight is great, the town gets so quiet after 6PM!! You can also wander into just about anywhere, most restos here are wonderful. The only town that is a bit touristy is Monterosso, be more careful there, and definitely don't stay there.

Buon viaggio, I'm so jealous!!

Edited by menton1 (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Manarola....summer 1979 for me. We stayed with an elderly English couple who allowed the local restauranteur to rent out their two spare rooms in exchange for fabulous dinners in his restaurant. So the couple ate for free, and the chef got some income from the rental!

I don't remember the name of the restaurant: all I remember is that we found it in the Guide Michelin( it had one fork at the time) , and that the actually dining area was outdoors and located precisely on top of the railway tunnel. The Rome express would barrel through every evening: all conversation would stop, and then resume!

Fresh anchovies, caught in the morning and then served with olive oil and lemon.....gamberi: huge prawns, char-grilled.... seafood risotto....local wine and the kicker: schiaciatra ( sp?) the fortified after-dinner drink! We'd stagger back up the hill to our room, watch the twinkling lights of the fishing boats and be perfectly content.

I first went to the Cinqueterre in 1963 with my parents. When I revisited in 1979, it had not changed...but there were hardly any tourists.

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Although not exactly what was asked for, I can tell you what I did. Six or seven years ago, I wanted to explore that part of Italy and decided to stay in Santa Margherita Ligure. Since it's about halfway between Cinque Terre and Genova (I wanted to see both), it seemed like the logical place to stay, and for me it was the perfect choice. I stayed at a lovely and inexpensive hotel located literally next to the train station, the Hotel Terminus (amazingly quiet considering its location), which also has a very good restaurant, perhaps the best in town.

From there it is an easy (and cheap) train ride to either Genova or Cinque Terre. When I got to Cinque Terre, I realized I had made the right choice (for my temperament, anyway)--it was overrun with tourists. I was very glad to be able to return that evening to the much calmer, and every bit as beautiful, Santa Margherita.

The most memorable meal I had that entire trip was at a hole in the wall in Genova behind the Stazione Brignole called Trattoria Colombo. I still can taste the minestrone, made the local way (of course) with pesto.

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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