La Spezia, Italy: Deserted in winter?

December, 2015

Deciding to leave beautiful Pegli to head for the small town of Deiva Marina in La Spezia province, little did we know it would be deserted and have this place almost all to ourselves, or do we?

With only a couple of tolls and a short drive in Reg (homely motorhome) today, it proves to be stress-free and arrive at the campsite in Deiva Marina quite chilled. This town is a closer base to the gorgeous Cinque Terre coastline, which I can’t wait to explore. And, the campsite is still open…just.

Whenever I hear the name of Deiva Marina, I imagine a boat marina with luxurious Maxi yachts, not a small town. But alas, there’s no such thing here…an odd name indeed.

An important fishing town in this region renown for its longline fishing, I don’t see any evidence of any type of fishing – perhaps it’s just too cold and fishing is only a summer activity?


pegli, deiva marina, italy, motorhome, campingSummary

Distance: 70 kilometres

Diesel: €1.24- 1.35 (Spain is cheaper at €1.01-1.06/litre)

Roads: E80

Tolls: €0.50 (with a wrong turn) + €7.80

Campsite: €16/night with ASCI card or €23/night without – winter prices. Usually €20 for 10 hours of Wi-fi, but we received 2 lots for free – low season perhaps? Or maybe because for most of the week Reg is the only resident in the campsite.

Valdeiva Marina – A nice enough site but although the toilets are open in the new block, the hot water is off as it’s winter. There’s a small block of 2 showers close to the site’s entrance, which provides hot water and also sinks for dish-washing, so everything you need really. The reception staff are very sweet and accommodating.

Shuttle bus: The campsite provides a free shuttle bus to the railway station, which is 3kms from the site. There are set times going to the station, although it’s only a phone call for a pick-up on your return.

Washing machine: €4/load

Clothes dryer: €4/20 minutes


If you’re feeling energetic, the campsite is about a 3.5 kilometre walk to the seafront. Be careful as there isn’t a lot of footpath to walk along and as this is Italy, cars do whiz by at alarming speeds. Walked the 7 kilometre return trip to the seafront a few times without any dramas, during our stay.

The seafront is quite nice and very quiet, as only a few people seem to be around. Perhaps everyone leaves this town for the winter. The locals say that the summer season (March-October) is rammed with tourists and much too hectic so, winter provides respite for the locals I guess.

Locals here are friendly and we seemed to be a bit of a novelty. Perhaps it’s because we’re here out of season and seem to be the only foreign tourists in this town.

Food

Although Reg is fully equipped, there’s always time for coffee and cake.

Pampero

On corsa Italia N86, this cute bar offers good coffee (€1.30) and pastries (€1+), which also serves alcohol and sandwiches. Many locals seem to hang out here so must be good, but maybe has something to do with the very cheap prices and large Sky Sports TV.

A great place to sit and people watch. The owner has 2 gorgeous friendly dogs that wait patiently at the door for any scraps of ham to be thrown their way, and thrown they are…constantly.

Simply Supermercati

Just an easy 100-metre stroll from the campsite along via Ghiglielmone 12, this supermarket sells most things you need and definitely staples to stock up your motorhome at reasonable prices – friendly staff.

Deiva Marina, Italy, Liguria, motorhome, camping
Dusk at Deiva Marina seaside

Camoglio

The train from Deiva Marina to Camoglio (€4 one-way; 6 hours of travel in one direction only) takes 40 minutes.

This pretty village gem is located on the west side of Portofino’s peninsula, on the Golfo Paradiso at the Riviera di Levante.

Camoglio, Cinque terre, Italy, motorhome, camping
Gorgeous Camoglio’s harbour

A walk from the train station through this lovely fishing village for about 10 minutes takes you down to the waterfront. Apparently in the Middle Ages, this was a notably large seaport with a fleet consisting of hundreds of Tall Ships, and the reason it was named “city of a thousand white sails”.

Camoglio, Cinque terre, Italy, motorhome, camping
Ancient stones

A little more research on Camoglio uncovers that this fishing village had 500 registered ship captains in 1880, when the population was only about 12,000. Sadly today, this doesn’t exist and Camoglio mainly survives on its tourism.

Camoglio, Cinque terre, Italy, motorhome, camping, fishing
Winter repairs

Similar to the Cinque Terre villages, visitors love the multi-coloured houses in Camoglio, which are renown for helping its fishermen find their way back from the sea to their homes in this port.

Camoglio, Cinque terre, Italy, motorhome, camping
Fishing chats

These days Camoglio is more of a promenade for tourists and locals along the Italian Riviera.

CInque Terre, Camoglio, Italy, motorhome, camping, seafront
Camoglio’s seafront

Many cafes and restaurants line the timeless seafront. Although there are only a few people around at the moment, I imagine it would be horrendous in the summer when half of Italy and the rest of the world visit.

CInque Terre, Manarola, Italy, motorhome, camping
Laundry view

Food

Bar Auriga on Deneb SNC Di Taretto Cristiana 8 C. Via Garibaldi, serves a great Macchiato (€2.20) and Focachina (€6) but is a little expensive – more so than Genova.


Santa Margherita Ligure

When taking the train back from Camoglio to Deiva Marina, take the time for a quick stop at Santa Margherita Ligure as it’s only the next stop along.

This town became renown as a tourist resort following WWII and offers a pleasant walk down to the seafront. Check out the marina with all the flashy expensive yachts and powerboats. There’s also a 16th-century castle across the road from the sea.

Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy, motorhoming, camping
Santa Margherita Ligure seafront
S. Margherita Ligure, Italy, motorhome, camping
Trompe-l’oeil (“deceive the eye”) painted building – S. Margherita Ligure

Food

Always important to stop for a rest, we discover Gelateria Gepi Mare.

Gelateria Gepi Mare

Stop at via Bottaro 40 opposite the seafront, for fantastic value and a great coffee (€1.30), delicious gourmet cakes (€3.50), wonderful Gelato (€2.50) – excellent friendly service and ambience.


Finding Portofino

Deciding to stay another day to visit Portofino and see what all the hype is about, I’m hoping that Portofino’s reputation doesn’t disappoint as I hear a coffee is over €5.

Sometimes travel days don’t always go to plan.

Today went something like this…

With a free campsite shuttle bus lift early, we wait at the train station for 50 minutes – ticket costs €4 for 40kms – 6 hours. For some reason, all the times changed last Sunday – even the locals don’t understand why, and are pretty angry or confused about everything. As a result, there are far fewer trains than when we travelled last Saturday.

Not only is the wait at Deiva but this time, the train also stops at Sestri Levante – only 2 stops away – and we wait again for another 35 minutes before changing trains here…not a great travel day.

S. Margherita Ligure, Italy, motorhoming, camping, castle
16th Century castle – S. Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita

Finally arriving at Santa Margherita and buying the bus ticket (€1.70 one-way) for Portofino –  only 6 kilometres away – we wait…and wait.

The 12:01hrs bus doesn’t arrive.

After half an hour, I ask our ticket seller if there’s a problem. Advising it’s strange the bus hasn’t arrived as they’re always on time, he suggests we walk 500 metres to the next bus stop and wait.

Finding the bus stop, we wait, but still a bus doesn’t arrive. After asking a local, we move to the correct bus stop and wait.

Spotting a Tourist Information booth across the road, I enquire about the buses: “today there is a strike”.

You’d think the guy selling the bus ticket would know about the strike. We “can walk the 5.5 kilometres but then we need to walk the 6 kms back to the station” – no kidding!

On a good day, I would. But as it’s a grey drizzly day, it’s better to opt out for the lazy tourist syndrome and go to a favourite coffee shop to drown our sorrows in an espresso, pastries, and wallow in Gelato.

Following this non-event to Portofino and returning to the station, I see the ticket seller. To his credit, he recognises me and immediately offers a refund. And, even shows me that his Newspaper states there isn’t a bus strike today.

With another wait of an hour at Sestri Levante on the return trip home, decide to stop off at the COOP Liguria on via le Dante, 140 to get supplies as this is a well-stocked supermarket.


Quick stop in Rapallo

Another 10 minutes on the train from Santa Margherita Ligure and you bump in to Rapallo, yet another gorgeous seafront to wander along.

From the train station, turn left and walk up the hill. You’ll come across the beautifully ancient Antico Castello sul Mare castle right at the water’s edge. Sadly, the light is fading so not great for photos this time. The castle is only open from 15:00-18:00hrs during 1st October-31st May, with different times during summer.

Impressed after the fleeting glimpse of this castle surrounded by sea with only a pier to connect it to land, I do a little digging around to learn more.

As with many castles in Italy, rich with a checkered history often infamous, this one is by no means different. Its past goes something like this…

Following the pirate Dragut’s looting and destruction of Rapallo and enslaving many inhabitants in 1550, this castle was built for Rapallo’s defensive purposes. The castle was also used as a prison for a long time before it was restored. Its purpose now is for conferences and exhibitions as a new prestigious venue. I would love to exhibit my work here one day.

Food

If you need more stocking up then there’s a Carrefour at Rapallo.

Carrefour Market

On C Assereto 37, this supermarket, is stocked with a great selection of everything and well worth a stop. Prices are little more expensive than your local COOP Supermarket.


Exploring Cinque Terre

Tomorrow we start to explore the wonderful villages of Cinque Terre – can’t wait!

Read all about this stunning area in my: Italy’s spectacular Cinque Terre, what’s not to love?


Leaving La Spezia

After an amazing time finally, it’s time to leave Deiva Marina and the stunning Italian dream of Cinque Terre – one area of Italy I will never forget for it’s natural and historic beauty.

The next leg is a longer drive to the tiny village of Giannella, some 330 kilometres south in the beautiful Tuscany region.

Visit my Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts on Europe at Image Earth Travel.

stained glass, Deiva Marina, Italy, motorhome, camping
Gorgeous nautical stained glass in the 12th-century Parrocchia Santa Sabina Trigoso church
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21 thoughts on “La Spezia, Italy: Deserted in winter?

Add yours

    1. Excellent!

      In the end, I had to fly back to Australia for an interview for the one-year Resident Visa. I’m here until mid-November next year, then will have to re-apply but can do this in Italy I believe (if the rules don’t change!). This is the short version I’m writing here as I will post a blog when I’ve caught up; it’s a long process and just in case anyone else is trying to do the same.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I would LOVE to visit the foxes, but I am too busy these days – biting more than one can chew is no good… yet, I did it 😦 Good I have a few blog posts written and scheduled. You know, I won’t be surprised that one day I will just book a flight and run away… to Italy 🙂 And settle in one of those cute fishing villages for the rest of my life.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Remember to take time out for yourself; it’s important. I’m not sure where you find the time to write and schedule so many posts – I need to learn from you.

      If you do run away to Italy, make sure to come and visit me in the south…I would love to meet you and sure we’d have loads to chat about over an espresso or vino! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I can fully understand that as I lived in the UK last year for about 5 months. Although it’s a beautiful place, the weather can be so miserable.

      In saying that, it’s been raining here (on and off) since Tuesday!

      Liked by 1 person

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