Italian Riviera (Liguria)

The serene Ligurian coast is the perfect antidote to a hedonistic charter along the Côte d’Azur. The stretch of coastline between St Tropez and Portofino has it all — shimmering light, southern heat and northern elegance. Charming boutiques and designer shops nestle in narrow streets that come alive with the glamorous bars and restaurants that have long defined the area. Italians love the good life, and nowhere is this more evident than in the harbourside of the enchanting villages dotting the coast.

This Ligurian hideaway was first discovered by the jet set when the Duke and Duchess of Windsor signed the visitors’ book at the Hotel Splendido in the early 1950s while visiting Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer. Richard Burton also proposed to Elizabeth Taylor here in Puny’s restaurant in the port. Behind the portside restaurants, the cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques the likes of Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Dior, but for relaxation set your heights higher. Way up on the hillside is the exclusive Hotel Splendido, having hosted some of the world’s most coveted icons it boasts fantastic views over the horseshoe-shaped harbour and bustling activity below.

Named after the five neighbouring towns of Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre is one of Europe’s most beautiful coastlines. Built into the cliffs on the coast of Liguria, north of Tuscany, the area has managed to escape the hubbub that afflicts so many coastlines thanks to its steep terrain, which limits access for vehicles. Linking one lovely village to another, the famous Sentiero Azzurro path affords spectacular vistas. Leading you through shady olive groves, along the cliff-tops and past pebbly beaches, the complete trail can take several hours for those wanting to take it at speed, or a day’s leisurely hike at a slower pace. Tunel beneath overhanging rocks, wind through olive groves and vines and marvel at the vertiginous spots lined with semi-tropical aloe.

  • Spend a morning cruising to the Cinque Terre National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • An overnight cruise along the Italian coastline brings you to the pocket-sized harbour of Portofino.
  • Anchor in the bay of Portovenere and visit the Cinque Terre islands by tender.
  • Spot fin and sperm whales basking in the Ligurian Sea from the comfort of your yacht.