Levanto: the starting point to visit Cinque Terre
We found a single spot available in a camping, but we had to place our tent about 5 minutes walking away from the parking area. I was tired, hungry, dirty and the thought of having to leave the car with all my stuff far away from the tent felt like the most terrible thing. We stupidly decided to take our chances and check at the other campings too. Everything was full not just for the night, but for days to come! My stomach was horribly growling and I just felt like crying. Everything was perfect until then. We were on this amazing land, finally enjoying a perfect weather after all the rain along the way and we had no place where to sleep or shower. The thought of sleeping again in the car was daunting – I’m not sure my back could have taken it anymore.
We went back to the first camping, hoping that the one spot was still available.
We fixed the tent in less than 5 minutes and without even showering or changing clothes we hurried to the city center to find something to eat. It was already around 11 o’clock in the evening, but yay for late dinners in Italy! We found a lovely restaurant where we finally enjoyed delicious pasta (with pesto, how else?) and white wine. My stomach was thankful and the wine really lifted my spirits. Back to the camping, things weren’t looking that bad after all. I slept like a baby!
About Levanto: it’s a small cute town in the North of Cinque Terre and it’s a great place to stay at if you can’t afford or don’t find nice accommodation in one of the five villages of 5 Terre (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare). It’s not as picturesque as the well-known 5, but it’s very welcoming. It has more of a family-holiday-village feeling. The beach is quite generous, although most of it is private. There are plenty of family-run traditional restaurants with great and very affordable food, souvenir shops, wine shops, pesto shops, fruit shops (had some of the best peaches of my life here) all-kind of merchandise.
Also, Levanto is great as a starting point for visiting the 5 villages via train. We bought the day-ticket for Cinque Terre (12 euros; you can find it at the train station) which included limitless train rides between Levanto and La Spezia (stopping in every one of the five towns along the way) during that day plus the trekking route (which is 7 euros otherwise but we didn’t have time to do it anyway). Keep in mind that THESE TRAINS ARE ALWAYS LATE. Always. At least 1 or 2 minutes. There wasn’t a single time when it arrived as scheduled. The good side of this was that we arrived late at the station once and we caught the train just because it was late.
Why would I pick Levanto over La Spezia? Passing through La Spezia it felt cold, industrial, while Levanto was cozy, more relaxed, more welcoming.