La Spezia, Italy: Deserted in winter?

December, 2015

Decided to leave beautiful Pegli to travel to the small town of Deiva Marina in La Spezia province. Little did we know it would be deserted and would have this place almost all to ourselves, or would we?

With only a couple of tolls and a short drive in Reg (our homely motorhome) today, it proved to be stress-free and arrived 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.

Apparently, this is an important fishing town in this region and renown for its longline fishing. I didn’t see any evidence of any type of fishing but 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 was 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

  • Pampero (Corsa Italia N86) – Good coffee (€1.30), pastries (€1+) in this cute little coffee shop, which also serves alcohol and sandwiches. All the locals seem to hang out here, so must be good, could be something to do with the very cheap prices and large Sky Sports TV. 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 (via Ghiglielmone 12) – Just 100 metres from the campsite, this supermarket has most things you need and definitely staples to stock up your motorhome. Reasonably priced and 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 gem is located on the west side of Portofino’s peninsula, on the Golfo Paradiso at the Riviera di Levante.

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”.

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

Gorgeous Camoglio’s harbour

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

Winter repairs

Camoglio, Cinque terre, Italy, motorhome, camping

Ancient stones

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.

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 visits!

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

Camoglio’s seafront

CInque Terre, Manarola, Italy, motorhome, camping

Laundry view

Food

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


Santa Margherita Ligure

When taking the train back from Camoglio to Deiva Marina, have a quick stop at Santa Margherita Ligure for a look as it’s only the next stop along. This town became renown as a tourist resort following WWII.

This is also a pleasant walk down to the seafront. Check out the marina with all the flashy expensive yachts and powerboats. There’s 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

Gelateria Gepi Mare (Via Bottaro, 40) – fantastic value and a great coffee (€1.30); delicious gourmet cakes (€3.50), wonderful Gelato (€2.50); excellent friendly service and ambience, opposite the seafront.


Finding Portofino

Decided to stay another day and visit Portofino to see what all the hype and its reputation is about. Hope it doesn’t disappoint as I hear a coffee is €5+! Sometimes travel days don’t always go to plan.

The day went something like this…

Got a lift with the free campsite shuttle bus early but only to 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 and confused about it all). As a result, there are far fewer trains than when we travelled last Saturday.

Not only was the wait at Deiva but this time, the train also stopped at Sestri Levante (only 2 stops away) and we had to wait another 35 minutes before changing trains here…this was not turning out very well.

S. Margherita Ligure, Italy, motorhoming, camping, castle

16th Century castle – S. Margherita Ligure

Finally arriving at Santa Margherita, bought the bus ticket (€1.70 one-way) for Portofino, which is only 6 kilometres away. Waited…and waited. The 12:01hrs bus didn’t arrive. After half an hour, I asked our ticket seller if there was a problem. He advised that it was strange the bus hadn’t arrived as they’re always on time. He said to walk 500 metres to the next bus stop, which is in town and wait. So we walked, found a bus stop, and waited we did…again, but at the wrong bus stop. So after asking a local, we moved to the right bus stop and waited…but a bus still didn’t arrive.

Spotting a Tourist Information booth across the road, I enquired about the buses and was advised that today: “there is a strike!” You’d think the guy selling the bus ticket would have known about the strike. The tourist advisor said we “could walk the 5.5kms but then we’d have 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 was better to opt out for the lazy tourist syndrome. This meant go to a favourite coffee shop to drown our sorrows in a cup of Espresso, eat pastries, and wallow in Gelato.

Following this non-event to Portofino, returned to the station and saw the ticket seller. To his credit, he recognised me and immediately offered a ticket refund, even showing me that his Newspaper stated there was no bus strike today.

With another wait of an hour at Sestri Levante on the return trip home, decided to stop off at the COOP Liguria (Via le Dante, 140) to get supplies at the well-stocked supermarket.


Quick stop in Rapallo

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

From the train station, turn left and walk up the hill. You’ll come across the gorgeous Antico Castello sul Mare castle right at the water’s edge. Sadly, the light was fading so I didn’t get the chance to take photos this time. Apparently it’s only open from 15:00-18:00hrs during 1st October-31st May (different times in the summer); there’s always a next time…

Impressed after the fleeting glimpse I had of this castle, which is surrounded by sea with only a pier to connect it to land, I did 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

Carrefour Market (C so Assereto, 37) – Don’t think I really need to explain what’s in this supermarket, just that it’s 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 it 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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