Written by Missy Johnston
Arrive in Genoa via international air to board your yacht. Genoa Airport is very close to the yacht marinas and so transferring for boarding should be a mere 15 – 20 minutes away. Once settling in, set sail for Camogli, Portofino, Santa Margherita, or Rapallo. Any one of these little villages are delightful and a lovely location to explore and enjoy and spend your first night on board. Overnight. Enjoy a first night dinner on the top deck under the stars.
Cruise from the Portofino area with breakfast on deck while slowly cruising past the Cinque Terre. Stop for a tender ride into one of the little towns, such as Manarola. The Cinque Terre takes its name from five small villages – Corniglia, Manarola, Monterosso al Mare, Riomaggiore and Vernazza – that defiantly cling to the inhospitably rugged Ligurian coastline. They are, and have been for many centuries, practically inaccessible by land due to the harsh, steep terrain which juts up at their backs. The best way to see them is to tender in from the yacht to the base of each village. For those that love hiking there are goat trails between the villages that run along the coast, however, they are rugged and very narrow, literally for goats, and donkeys.
After visiting the Cinque Terre, cruise to spend the night anchored around the old village of Portovenere.
Porto Venere, Italy
Often overlooked, this little village has a long and venerable history as attested to by the castle remains on the promontory overlooking the town and town quay. Many feel that Portovenere is what Portofino was before discovered by the rich and famous and still to this day has the quaint and sleepy feel of a quiet old seaside fishing village.
Perched on the tip of a promontory alongside the Gulf of Poets, the area of Porto Venere, also known as Porto Venere, (a UNESCO World Heritage Site included with the Cinque Terre), is comprised of the little towns of Fezzano, Le Grazie and Porto Venere, and the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. Porto Venere, originally settled during the first century BC, was graced by a Temple to Venus, hence the area and the town name. Today, this is a sleepy little area, where time stopped during the medieval period. Visiting charter yachts can anchor in a protected bay between the village of Porto Venere, and the island of Palmaria for guests to enjoy this little jewel, in the same manner as have civilizations in years past.
After anchoring and heading ashore in the ship’s tender, explore the little winding medieval alleyways of Porto Venere where the still standing medieval gate opens to the historic old town center. Close beside the gates is a tower, and at the top of the promontory looming over the town is the old Castello Doria.
Porto Venere is located on the Gulf of Poets, also known as the Bay of La Spezia, however, so re-named given the legions of writers, artists and poets that are said to have found inspiration in this lovely area, such as writers David Herbert Lawrence and Percy Bysshe Shelley, writer and painter George Sand, and poet Lord Byron. Supposedly, the early-Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli created one of his most extraordinary masterpieces, the Birth of Venus, after meeting Simonetta Vespucci, model for Venus in his painting, while visiting the local village of Fezzano. Some art experts believe that the bays appearing on the right side of this masterpiece are depictions of the Gulf of La Spezia, with Fezzano and Palmaria Island. The Bay of Poets is filled with grottos, and it is said that one of these Grottos, now sadly collapsed, was a favorite haunt of Lord Byron, who famously swam across the Gulf of Poets to visit his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley, the same Shelley that later met his end in a boating accident on this very same Bay. Gunkholing by ship’s tender is a fun activity to explore over 36 grottos in this area.
Perhaps have dinner at Locanda Lorena on nearby Palmaria Island. Overnight.
Leave in the early am for the crossing to the Tuscan Island of Elba and wake up for breakfast watching all of the activity in the busy harbor of Portoferraio. Elba, the largest of the Tuscan Islands and the third largest island in Italy, is probably the most well known as the exile location for 300 days for Napoleon Bonaparte and his sister in between his two reigns over France as Emperor. Located there still is the house and summer house of the Bonaparte’s; which are both open as museums. As the brother and sister slipped away hastily from the island, much was left behind and is on display today. However the shoreline and interior of Elba are also lovely, with many anchorages and pine covered shores beckoning for bicycle rides, or a hike to the top of Mount Capanne for a view of the other Tuscan Islands and Corsica.
The island of Elba is large and covered with cooling pine trees. While the yacht cruises around to Porto Azzurro, perhaps have a car tour of the island, or cruise around the island on board to the southern port. Anchor for lunch and a refreshing swim. After lunch cruise to Porto Azzurro a terrific location for water sports. Bicycling ashore is a great activity on this island. Overnight just outside the main harbor.
Giglio Island Harbor
In the morning cruise to Giglio Island. Giglio is a lovely island known for the crystal clear waters, long sandy beaches around the perimeter of the island, underwater caves and ship wrecks from various centuries. And sometimes on a clear day, dolphins and whale calves can be seen frolicking in the surrounding waters. Head ashore to explore Giglio Island. Giglio Castello is the medieval walled city on top of the tallest granite mountain on Giglio. With very few tourists to the island, there are few taxis and the easiest way to visit this medieval gem is to take the bus up the narrow winding road from Giglio Porto, the main harbor. The oldest town on the island, Giglio Castello is still humming with activity while the residents continue to go about their daily activities. The main gate dates to the 1300’s and opens to a town of buildings jumbled on top of one another separated by a maze of alleys and narrow streets. Explore this area by wandering, as getting lost is impossible, and stop for a bite to eat at one of the local eateries inside the walls for a taste of the strong local wine called Ansonco and hearty country Italian food. Overnight on anchor outside the main harbor.
Ancient Roman Ruins in Ostia
Cruise to the nearby uninhabited island of Giannutri to anchor for a swim and a lovely lunch. Head ashore to see the ruins of the Roman “Villa Domitia” named after the family of the Domitii Ahenobarbi. Later in the afternoon cruise to Ostia, the ancient port for Rome. Head into Rome for a great last night on the town. Or stay in Giannutri, exploring by ship’s tender the little village of Porto Ercole and perhaps heading to Cala Galera for a short taxi trip to the Hotel Il Pellicano for cocktails returning to the yacht for dinner, or cocktails and dinner at the Il Pellicano.
Wake in Ostia, or cross from Giannutri to Ostia, the ancient port for Rome, and only 15 minutes to the Fiumicino Airport, or 15 minutes to Rome. Perhaps visit the ancient Roman ruins in Ostia which was the Roman port for Rome.