Think the Cinque Terre towns are beautiful? Well here are two towns that are lovelier. Think the scenery on the Cinque Terre is gorgeous? It's just as great here.
Even better is the fact that you'll be one of the few foreign tourists, you'll be all alone on the walks, and the beaches are far better than anything on the Cinque Terre.
The area is part of the Gulf of Poets, named because it has for centuries attracted and inspired poets including Shelley (who drowned here) and Byron.
Stay at the Hotel Fiascherino (best location) or the Hotel Nido (better rooms) and explore Italy's last undiscovered coastal paradise. Scroll down to see the photos and more info on what you can expect. If you're not sure where anything is here's a map.
Once you've had breakfast overlooking the sea and spent a morning exploring the delightful little coves and beaches around the Hotel Fiascherino you'll want to head into Tellaro.
Before you get there though why not stop for lunch at the Osteria La Caletta? If you enjoy seafood their seafood tasting menu is a must!
When you first get to Tellaro (considered by Italian experts to be one of Italy's loveliest towns) you'll find it is a maze of tiny little lanes and passageways that simply tempt one to explore.
Go and get lost!
With Tellaro being so small you'll not be lost for long and you'll soon find yourself back in the piazza or down by the little harbour.
After a few days you'll know and love every nook and cranny.
A short distance from Tellaro is Lerici. This is where the locals (and my wife Maria) go to shop, open market day is on Wednesday and this the best day to visit.
There's lots to see besides the excellent market including a medieval castle. Bad news is you have to walk up 360 steps to get there...or you can take the lift/elevator ;-)
Nearly forgot to mention; perhaps the best way to explore the coast is by boat, Mario is the guy who runs the best trips around the Gulf of Poets and all the way to the Cinque Terre. You can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org
Market day brings a lot of traffic into town, here's my wife Maria trying to sort it out...
One of the walks I love most takes you through this abandoned village just outside of Tellaro. Some of the houses have fig trees growing in the bedrooms and the olive groves and vines grow with wild abandon.
I dream of fixing up one of the houses and bringing life back to this village, a village that must once have been filled with the laughter of children and the sounds of a typical Italian village. The sea views are great from here too.
Montemarcello is another lovely little village about a three hour walk from Tellaro.
I've walked here in July and the sea views are gorgeous, the beaches nearby are spectacular and, even in July, you have it all pretty much to yourself.
It reminds me of the sort of place that Shelley would have loved. Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary (the author of Frankenstein) actually lived not that far away, just outside Lerici, in a little town called San Terenzo.
Lord Byron, the English poet, used to swim across from Lerici to visit them and that 7.5 kilometer swim is now an annual event: The Byron Cup Challenge Swim.
On the trail from Tellaro to Ameglia there's this little cottage built right into the very rock. Sometimes the door is open while at other times it's closed and at night there's occasionally a light on inside.
Does somebody live here I wonder?
I've never had the courage to peek inside...if you do let me know what you find.
One of the loveliest villages I've ever visited in Italy is Ameglia, the photo below shows the main piazza.
The walk get here, from Tellaro to Ameglia, is through forests, olive groves and vineyards. It is simply beautiful. It's one of those walks where I find my legs tired at the end of it but my soul is so at peace.
Best is to try time your arrival for lunch.
You walk into the delightful aromas of Italian cooking and the sounds of plates and cutlery being laid out on white linen. Nothing on earth can overcome that overwhelming temptation to find yourself a table and tuck in.
Ameglia is right on the edge of Liguria, bordering Tuscany, and from the town and its outskirts the view across the Tuscan coastal plain, over the Magra River and towards the mountains is unforgettable.
On a clear day it really does feel like you can look all the way down the Italian boot... is that Calabria in the far distance ;-)