We were more than ready to head to the coast after the heat and crowds of Florence. To reach Portovenere you must take the train to La Spezia, Liguria and then take a local bus to the marina. We arrived early in the morning, and set off quickly to find where we would sleep. Our hostel, Rifugio Muzzerone, was described to us through AirBnB as a hikers’ refuge. We didn’t realize that this meant it was a 30 minute, steep hike from the main street. It was difficult with our bags, but it got us in shape for what was to come later (Stay tuned!).
I remember reserving it as a *birthday present* to indulge myself after Couchsurfing for the past week, but it was far from a luxury. The place is a no-frills, rat-infested shack boasting beautiful views and really great dinners available for guests. Are you getting mixed vibes? Here are some photos from our hikes up and down.
Finally, reaching the top we were told we had been granted the “suite” because all of the other rooms were full. More like they forgot we were coming. We didn’t get a tour or any other information, but at that point we were happy to just rest and take in the views.
Despite encounters with a lizard the size of my forearm (reptiles– ew), hearing rats in the walls all night, and ice cold showers, it was difficult to complain because El Rifugio was the cheapest AirBnB accommodation within 50km of Cinque Terre. The town of Portovenere is incredibly picturesque, and we enjoyed wandering around.
I’m really glad we stayed there because we were outside of the crowds and costs of Cinque Terre, but still able to experience the views and colors. There’s plenty to explore with ferries leaving to the villages of Cinque Terre daily, as well as to the island across from Portovenere, Terrizzo.
Here’s what to explore when you visit Portovenere:
1. The Marina
2. Church of San Pietro (St. Peter)
3. Byron’s Cave
4. Andrea Doria Castle, 12th Century
5.The stacked streets of the Old Town
After buying your ticket from the La Spezia train station, you can catch the bus to Portovenere at the bus stop Mercato Nord near Cavour Street. Stamp the ticket at the small machine when you board.
The trip will take about 30 minutes with multiple stops. Keep an eye out for street signs. You’ll pass multiple colorful towns, but Portovenere is the last stop.
When you are ready to leave, you must either go back to larger stations by bus to La Spezia or Sarzana. Another option is to take a ferry to Riomaggiore, where they have their own train station, but be aware that ferries could be cancelled on perfectly sunny days because of a rough sea, like ours was.