Seaside Guesthouse in Riomaggiore
I've spent years drooling over stunning photos of the five Italian coastal villages, known as Cinque Terre.
Last April I was finally able to absorb some of the scenery, with my own eyes! Riomaggiore is one of the colorful villages that Don and I visited. At last, I was able to snap my own photos of the Ligurian Sea and the bright tower houses clinging to the rocky hills. In this photo, you can actually see our guesthouse, overlooking the narrow harbor.
"Scorci di Mare"
Scorci di Mare, was our home for 2 nights. When I booked, I didn't realize what was behind the name. If I'd known scorci was the Italian word for glimpse, or that mare meant sea, I might have guessed we'd have a sea view!.
Our guest room in the narrow pink building, wasn't a glamorous seaside Hilton. I'd say it was better. The historic building was perched right above the harbor, with a "glimpse of the sea" beyond.
Paolo was our host. He met us at the train station and escorted us to our 2-level guest suite. He opened up the door to our balcony and I couldn't stop grinning.
As the harbor below bustled with activity, Paolo shared stories. He was the 5th generation... to own the building I presume. He talked with such pride about his community, nestled between the hills and sea. He said there were over 1,000 residents now. Don guessed that he probably knew them all. He answered yes, then joked, "Not that I want to!"
Even though we were chatting above the water, Paolo reminded us that Riomaggiore had less connection to the sea, than the mountains. Terraced farming... grapes... white wine!
Paolo talked about how the hills kept the locals healthy. He mentioned that he (and his kids) made numerous trips up and down the hills each day. No driving the kids to school, since cars aren't permitted in the village center. There wasn't even a real road to the village, until the 1960's. Walking and climbing has always been part of village life.
Ups and Downs in Riomaggiore
When we first arrived, Don and I sampled some of that healthy hill climbing, when we met up with Paolo at the train station. He graciously took one of our bags and we followed along. So glad we packed light!
Our quick but rugged journey, took us through a maze of narrow passages and tunnels. We had a quick look at Via Colombo, (the main street) with its restaurants, shops and tourists.
Eventually the lane opened up to the cozy harbor, filled with pedestrians and boats. It was much quieter, when I took this photo at sunset.
In the busy afternoon, the festive harbor made me feel like I'd just walked onto a movie set. Even more so, in the quiet morning or evening.
Our Pink Building
From the harbor, Paolo pointed out the narrow pink building. He said the bottom story was built around 1280 and floors were added over generations. The top level was completed in the 16th century.
I spotted a door, on the lower level, but that wasn't for us! To access our guest room on the top, we had to wander around the wooden boats towards the stone stairs.
A walkway wrapped around the buildings and offered a lovely view of the sea. Then more stairs!
I'm still confused as I try to recall how many turns we took. But I do remember reaching the split.
I was glad to ignore the stairs that continued to the left. We headed right, through a passage between buildings.
I could see 2 more tiny sets of stairs at the end of the passage. I was so glad we were following Paolo. I was also glad we hadn't arrived after dark.
The primitive sets of stairs, led to two small landings. Our entrance was on the right.
The stone landing was a little worn and worrisome, but the green door to our guest room looked fresh and clean. A little glass sign welcomed us to our guest room named, "La Terrazza."
Don and I were huffing and puffing and grinning at this point. Here we were, standing in front of a sweet and tidy entrance, after 15 minutes of stumbling along, over uneven and often crumbling paths and stairs! Whew!
Before sharing the interior, I need to show our route in reverse! I'm clearly obsessed with the location of our guest house and I don't want to ever forget our crazy arrival adventure. This photo shows our green door and the passage that we had just come through.
Directly across from our landing, was another building and entrance. I've no clue about what was behind that cage-like door. I never paused to examine it, since I was very busy watching my feet most of the time. Luckily we never slipped into the gap, between the 2 landings.
Our comings and goings always felt like an adventure! I never tired of seeing this view, when we left our room and headed out of the passage!
Walking towards the light felt familiar. I was suddenly reminded of caving adventures when I was in college. It was always a thrill to spot the bright opening of the cave, after exploring in darkness. Our dim passage wasn't a cave, but it offered an even bigger thrill, as we headed towards the blue colors of sky and sea!
Our room/suite was named La Terrazza, which means terrace. I guessed that word, so I was expecting a balcony of some kind.
I somehow missed it, that our room would have 2 floors and 2 terraces. Double the fun!
This was what we saw as we stepped inside.
My eyes were drawn right away to the ladder-type structure, leading to the upper floor. I had no idea we would have so much space.
Clean and Updated
To the right of the door, was a nicely updated bathroom. It was clean and fresh, with a nice little window.
I couldn't help but wonder what it was like living here in the 1500's, long before plumbing. It would have been a long journey to get outside, to use some kind of outhouse. I'm guessing chamber pots were common.
Kitchen and Stairs
There was a nice little kitchen space with stovetop and fridge... dishes and table. There was complimentary coffee, tea and cookies. All tidy and welcoming.
The steep stairway was a curious addition, leading up to an opening in the beamed ceiling. I was reminded of pulldown attic stairs. The kid in me thought about attic treasures... or a treehouse at the top... or heading to an upper boat deck! But actually using the stairs was more tricky than fun.
From this angle the stairs looked more like a slide. Once again, I was reminded of caving days! At age 19, it was challenging and fun, carrying a backpack up a caving ladder (think circus ladder). Carrying my suitcase up the steep ramp-stairs, was equally challenging, since I'm 66 not 19. Actually it was sort of fun...ny! Luckily no mishaps!
The bedroom was clean and comfortable. I wish I knew what this space looked like 50 years ago. Or 200!
I'm sure the walls weren't smooth and white. I wanted to know what was behind those clean walls.
I appreciated having at least one bedside table and lamp. There was even a collection of books. If only I could read Italian! Best of all, there were 2 doors, that opened to another balcony!
The table and chairs were still wet from an earlier rain, when I first opened them.
I didn't take a seat, but I enjoyed taking in the view. Even with cloudy skies and muted colors, it was all beautiful. I couldn't wait to see the building and sea, when the lighting changed!
We certainly didn't need a TV, but there was one. There was also heating, which was nice on a chilly April day. Don had to do a little figuring to get it going.
Having a couch was a plus, after lots of walking. Cinque Terre accommodations can be pretty cozy, so this was a nice addition.
It was chilly out, but I was determined to make use of the window and doors, that led to the little balcony. I wanted them open!
I wanted to feel the air and hear all the sounds from below.
Best Seat in the House!
This was my favorite spot!
The sun came out shortly after we arrived and the terrace was warm and inviting!
I made coffee and soaked up the warmth.
It was wonderful having a view of the sea, but watching the people below and across, was actually more entertaining. I wondered about the people who owned the buildings and lived behind the windows.
I felt a little like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, although I didn't get out any binoculars to snoop. I did spot a few terrace activities, from yoga to wine drinking to rug beating.
We only had 2 nights in La Terrazza, but we made sure to have at least one lunch on our terrace.
Focaccia sandwiches, from a shop in the village!
Yogurt and coffee in the morning. Wine and Aperol Spritzes in the evening!
We even did a little bit of clothes washing in the sink and made use of our sunny terrace.
I had fun pretending I was a local, hanging my soggy socks on the clothesline.
The location of our hotel made exploring so easy! I slipped out the first morning before sunrise and felt like I had the village to myself!
After a little post dawn wandering, I actually spotted a few people and an actual vehicle! Now I know how the food and supplies arrive!
Slideshow of Riomaggiore
I could go on for days about all the places we enjoyed within walking distance of our hotel.
But I've rambled enough. I'll share a slideshow instead.
Our stay at Scorci di Mare felt authentic. We stayed in a building that was over 500 years old... owned by the same family for many generations.
The view and location made our 2-night stay unforgettable. We could look across to the tower houses and hills... down to the harbor and boats and out to the sea. We could wander to the rocky beach and dine in great restaurants, just steps from our door. All for a reasonable price! Perfecto!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!