“Count your nights by stars, not shadows; count your life with smiles, not tears.”
Framura, in the province of La Spezia, is one of those places that somehow manages to remain a well kept secret. As our host Lilia says, it is where “the Little Old world survived”. Nestled perfectly in between the congested Italian highlights of the Cinque Terre and Portofino, it is serenity pure and simple. Dating back to a pre-Roman era, Framura is like a step back in time, where you can walk thru beaded curtains to the quaint grocer, pantomime an order to the local butcher and the Italians gathered at the table are the same ones as 30 years ago. Framura is a commune made up of five hamlets; Anzo, Castagnola, Costa, Ravecca and Setta . Located 50 km southeast of Genoa and easily serviced by the Framura and Deiva Marina train stations, the area is the Italian Riviera in it’s most gracious hour. With beaches, diving, snorkeling, biking, hiking and amazing views, there is no shortage of things for families to do in this little slice of paradise.
WHERE WE STAYED
People often ask me how I find the incredible little gems we stay in. The truth is, they find me. I can sift through page after page of available apartments, but one will always call to me. Agriturismo Il Laghello di Amina was one of those places, and from the moment I connected with Lilia, I knew it was the right place for us. After Paris and Venice, we were craving a slower pace, and the moment we stepped onto the grounds, the peace and quiet washed over us. Not only is everything raised organically and with pride, the care they have for the accommodations and the people under their roof is just as authentic. There is nothing like relaxing each evening over bottles of wine, watching the sun set over the Ligurian Sea, the lights of Capo Noli and San Remo twinkling like stars in the distance. The pesto, the olive oils, the honey bees, the stream and even the beautiful family history of the place, are only topped by the hardest working and most gracious hosts you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. Everything from nature’s perfect lighting, to the sweeping views and the the unspoiled solitude, it was absolutely refreshing for the soul. You can read more about it in my previous blog Local is the New Lux.
Feeling a renewed sense of adventure, we spent a day walking the hills, biking thru tunnels and just exploring what Framura had to offer. Lilia dropped us off in the village of Costa, in front of the parish church of San Martino and the Carolingian tower. We enjoyed the scenery as we wound our way down steps and trails to the sea, getting slightly lost, and finally passing through historically noble Anzo, and the medieval hamlet of Setta, reaching the Framura train station and the Ligurian Sea.
We treated ourselves to snacks and cappuccinos at a small snackhouse. The crashing waves were a stunning backdrop, and on a calm day, this area is full of beach goers enjoying the popular sands of Torsei beach.
BIKING FROM FRAMURA TO LEVANTO
I am so not that bike riding Mom. BUT, this was a fantastic family adventure that I thoroughly enjoyed, and my kids still talk about. You can rent bikes just above the picture perfect and popular marina, protected by Liguria’s largest rock, ‘Ciamia’. Although the sea was rough that day, overturning and filling some unfortunate owner’s boat, the marina is a common gathering sun spot complete with showers, bathrooms and a bar. For less than 20 euros, we rented 3 bikes as well as a seat and helmet for Brooke. The trip takes you through old train tunnels that have been recently refurbished as paved bike/pedestrian lanes. It is one of those places that will soon become less secret and eventually be as packed as the trails of the Cinque Terre, but we enjoyed very little traffic in the tunnels that day. Clad with baskets, we enjoyed the relatively flat and easy 5 km ride through the tunnels, stopping at openings for views out over the water. We passed along the beaches and buildings of Bonassola and onto the larger centre of Levanto, where we enjoyed walking around the town and bought fresh sandwiches for a seaside picnic.
HIKING IN THE HILLS
While Lilia had kindly offered to come and pick us up, we decided to hike clear back to our apartment. It was an exhausting undertaking, but we simply couldn’t resist crossing the paths through the valley connecting Costa and Castagnola. We had seen wild boars from our apartment window, but did not encounter any along our trek. We did however come across several snakes….of which my loving husband did not inform me of until we had returned. And here I thought the big stick was simply for walking!
SPIAGGIA DEIVA MARINA
The municipality of Deiva Marina neighbors Framura. Following days of hiking, biking and being enthusiastic travelers, sometimes a day of “downtime” is just what every family needs. We decided to spend our last day at the Deiva Marina Beach, an 800 meter long mix of sand, gravel and sunkissed Italians. The beach is conveniently located near the train station and the village, and offers both sections of free beach as well as rentable chairs and umbrellas.
Framura is tranquility along the beaten path. Just a short train ride from the hustle and bustle of the Cinque Terre, Portofino, and Genoa, it offers it’s own compilation of experiences, all while feeling completely connected to nature and a time of simplicity. It’s a place where land meets sea, where people are genuine and where both the opportunity for peace and the adventure are endless.
But just remember, Framura is our little secret…..
Dolce far niente,
We also enjoyed days touring the incredible destinations of Cinque Terre and Portforino. Those are coming soon, so stay tuned!