It was a long weekend in Switzerland. Weather was starting to get warmer in Europe and we were craving for sunny beaches and good food. So all the roads led to… close to Rome. We decided to hit the roads to explore Liguria and Tuscany in Italy.
The trip from Switzerland to Italy is simply breathtaking with wonderful mountain views both on the Swiss and Italian side. Crossing the St. Bernard tunnel that connects Switzerland with Italy at around 1900 mts above the sea level is a unique experience.
Our first stop was Turin. We would have loved to visit the city but we arrived late in the evening and the purpose of this trip was to visit Liguria and Tuscany. But being only 3.5 hours away from Lausanne, we will definitely be back in Turing for a visit. In Turin, we stayed at the NH Torino Lingotto Congress, which is set in the former FIAT car factory. The hotel is decent and, although a bit dated, it looks as it has been recently renovated. However, the result of the renovation is not spectacular. Rooms are spacious and modern but they lack of charm. But it was still a good place to crash for the night.
What to do in Liguria
The following morning, after a hearty breakfast, we started our tour through Liguria, a coastal region of north-western Italy, with towns full of character and beautiful sunny beaches.
We stopped for lunch at Rappallo, situated in the Ligurian sea coast. We found a nice restaurant (Ristorante Vesuvio Pizzeria), just across the road from the sea. The lunch was, of course, pizza, pasta and seafood. What else can you eat in Italy?
With our stomach full, we continued our tour in Portofino, one of the most popular and chic resorts in Liguria.
Our next stop was La Spezia, a coastal town that is a frequent stop of the main cruises.
The highlight of our day was Monterosso al Mare in Cinque Terre, a region of the Liguria comprised of five villages: Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore and (our stop) Monterosso al Mare.
There are no enough words to describe the little small towns in Cinque Terre. With a wonderful sunny weather, summer was in the air and our kids were able to enjoy an afternoon in the beach, playing in the sand and swimming in the Mediterranean sea. What else could we ask for?
After enjoying beautiful Cinque Terre, we hit the road again to Tuscany, our next stop. We spent the night at the Best Western Grand Hotel Guinigi in Lucca. Stepping into this hotel is like travelling in time to the 80s. The deco would certainly need an update. But the rooms were extremely clean and spacious and they even had a terrace to enjoy the Tuscany country side. The hotel also has a very good restaurant, where we had dinner, and offers free parking space. All in all, a good and cheap option in the outskirts of Lucca.
We are well aware that the highlight of the Tuscany region is Florence. But that was part of another trip we made last year (you can read our post here). This time we wanted to focus in Lucca and Pisa.
Lucca is a beautiful medieval town, where the ancient part of the city is surrounded by walls. Main attractions include Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro, Guinigi Tower, Church of San Michele in Foro and Lucca Cathedral.
After exploring Lucca, our next stop was Pisa, a city that we had wanted to explore for several years. The obvious highlight of Pisa is the tower. But you can also visit the Baptistery and the Cathedral of Pisa, among other attractions.
After taking the classic photos of the Tower of Pisa, we took a break for lunch with a view of the tower. Our menu included, of course, pizza and pasta!
On our way back to Lausanne, we decided to spend the afternoon in Sestri Levante. Another splendid coastal town, where you can enjoy the sea in one of the public beaches or, if you prefer, you can also pay 6 Euros per person to have access to a private beach with your own sun loungers and umbrellas.
Our last stop was at an ice cream shop in Sestri Levante to enjoy a delicious Italian gelato.