Cinque Terre Travel Guide

Just about the most charming and picturesque region you could travel to in Italy, the colourful cliffside towns that make up Cinque Terre are a dream destination. In my previous post from the area, I outlined where we stayed and a few other noteworthy bits. This post will focus solely on the 5 towns in the Italian Riviera which are (from N to S): Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Aside from the obvious beauty of the towns, one of the major reasons they have become so adored is due to the seaside hike that takes you from one town to the next. Due to the earthquakes in 2012, some of the hikes are still undergoing remediation and are closed to the public. As of currently, the closed trails are between Riomaggiore & Manarola, and Manarola & Corniglia. Unfortunately, those are said to be the least challenging of the trails. Clearly for me an easy jaunt > a strenuous hike. The only one I personally did was one of the most challenging, between Levanto (NOT one of the 5 towns) and Monterosso. Honestly it was a pretty tough hike, but luckily you are shaded for most of it, and Monterosso waits at the other end! For those who want to avoid hiking altogether (like I did every other day), the train system is easy, reliable, and fast. Make sure to stamp your day passes though because they are always patrolling the train cars! And word to the wise: do not use the boat system! It sounds great in theory but we decided against it. When we were in some of the towns we saw the insane lines of people waiting for the boats… it looked like mayhem and far too crowded to be enjoyable. 

The region is known for white wines, limoncello, seafood, focaccia, and pesto. And probably some things other than food & alcohol, but who cares about those? To be honest, I find the food in southern Italy just incredible and way more to my own personal liking, but who can hate on pesto and focaccia? Though after a week it did get a bit tiresome, and almost all restaurants have a slight variation on the same menu, but you will definitely enjoy it while you are there! See below for restaurant recommendations by town, as well as any other town-specific info I picked up on while there!

Monterosso: The largest of the 5 towns, situated right on the seaside, with a small but very recognizable beach covered in orange and green striped umbrellas. This town is possibly one of the busiest, although they ALL get very busy which is a shame. We came here most often, as it was the closest to where we were staying in Levanto. It is not worth it (in my opinion) to try to lay out on the beach here. It is all paid spots and they fill up so early in the morning. It is also super overpriced (in Levanto we paid half of what we would have paid in Monterosso for a beach chair). Two restaurants that were fantastic were Torre de Aurora (just opened this summer, in a castle on a cliff top with different patio levels all the way down) and Miky (a Michelin starred restaurant that was incredible).
Vernazza: Did not have the best luck in Vernazza! I wanted to do a partial hike from Vernazza to Riomaggiore, as supposedly the best view of the town is about 30 minutes into the trail, but it was ridiculously hot that day and we got too frustrated trying to find the start to the trail. We were also dying to eat at Ristorante Belforte (in my photos, it’s the place with the blue stripey umbrellas. SO DREAMY.) but we learned that most people make reservations months in advance so we were SOL! We ended up having dinner at a cute spot called Gianni Franzi that overlooks the main beach.
Corniglia: The only town I did go to. Corniglia is the only town of the 5 that is not on the sea. It is high up on a clifftop and has incredible views. My family ended up doing the hike between Corniglia and Vernazza and their photos were pretty incredible.
Manarola: Painfully perfect. Like, I look at the photos I took from the lookout point in Manarola (facing back towards the town) and feel physical pain at how pretty it is. It looks like a painting! Colourful buildings spilling down the cliff to the rocky sea where people swim. It is heaven. Two restaurants that you can’t miss are Trattoria del Billy (great views if you can get a spot out on the patio, amazing food) and Nessun Dorma (the best view you could ask for of Manarola… the entire restaurant is on a patio covered in tropical flowers and plants, and the food is so delicious and fresh. After eating pesto and focaccia for days on end, we were able to get amazing salads and bruschettas here, along with ridiculously good drinks).
Riomaggiore: Started our day here one day and did lots of wandering. So many pretty look out spots! Did not do much in Riomaggiore other than walk around, but it’s just as pretty as the rest of the towns, and I love the photo of the little harbor with the bright buildings snuggled up around it.

La Dolce Vita

Naturally, Italy is one of my favourite countries to visit, being the (half) Italian that I am. In all honestly I could go every year and never tire of the energy, food, beaches, architecture, history, style, people.... and so on. This year, my family rented an Airbnb villa in Levanto to explore a region we hadn't been to before, Cinque Terre. I'll dedicate an entire post to the 5 towns, but in this post I wanted to focus on the area and house we stayed at in Levanto. When travelling to Cinque Terre, the options for entire homes to rent are pretty slim. Each town has small apartments and hotels, but we wanted a larger house with an outdoor space as there would be 6 of us traveling together. We came across Villa Mesco, which is right at the edge of Cinque Terre, in a town called Levanto. The villa is literally at the start of the hike between Levanto and Monterosso (the first of the 5 towns, heading from north to south). It looked absolutely beautiful on the Airbnb listing, with a sprawling yard covered in plants, archways, flowers, and a huge patio, plus a pool. We were absolutely not disappointed upon arrival! It was such a perfect place to stay and use as a base to explore the entire region. The house itself is a very traditional, classic Italian style home, so we didn't expect anything too updated. This suited us just fine. The pool and patio were perfection, and the house was very spacious. It's at the top of a hill so the views were just incredible. The only downside was having to hike up and down the hill to get anywhere, but we definitely were able to work off all the pasta and gelato so no harm done! Levanto itself is bigger than any of the 5 towns that make up Cinque Terre, so there were many grocery stores, shops, restaurants, etc., and the town never felt too crowded or busy as it doesn't draw the crowds as much as the 5 towns do. This was great because Levanto has a large, beautiful beach that we could ALWAYS get a spot on (you won't get a chair in Monterosso, the only town with a full beach, unless you get there first thing in the morning). A few other things we did in Levanto that were so enjoyable included renting a small boat to explore the coastline by sea, trying nearly all of the gelato and focaccia shops in town, and exploring the streets. There was also an amazing restaurant in town that we loved called La Loggia, with a gorgeous stone patio, and a bar with delicious cocktails that we went to one night, called Controvento. Levanto was such a great area to stay in and explore the entire region from! Our Airbnb made the experience an absolute dream.

(Wearing a Whistles striped linen/silk blend midi dress, ASOS nude flat ring sandals, Karen Walker Helter Skelter tortoiseshell sunglasses, and a Forever 21 black straw hat + a Shine & Gold romper "Spell on You", Zara white sneakers, and a Forever 21 tan straw hat)

Ios Island Travel Guide

Prior to going to Santorini, we stayed on the heavenly island of Ios. We arrived right at the beginning of September and immediately noticed how quiet the island felt (in the BEST way possible). We asked our taxi driver about it as she drove us to our hotel, and she said that during June, July, and August, Ios is a party island filled with students, but as soon as September rolls around, the island becomes a lot more calm and quiet. Um, literally music to my ears. The island was not dead by any means, but in September there are a lot more couples and mature groups of friends. Absolutely ideal if you ask me. We stayed at Ios Palace Hotel, which is right on Mylopotas Beach (Mylopotas Beach is the main “tourist” area, and Chora is the main town). The hotel was clean and comfortable with two beautiful pools and a great bar/lounge area that we had breakfast in every day. Also, it was beyond affordable. Really great value for how fantastic this place was. Read on for other tips and recommendations for Ios!

Eat/drink:

Harmony – such a little gem. This place serves Mexican, which you might not think you want when you’re in Greece, but trust me when I say you do haha. The food is so fresh and healthy with tons of vegan options, and they even have acai bowls. The atmosphere is so chilled out and relaxed, it’s a place you could just hang out at all day. It’s a bit up on the rocky cliffs, so you get a stunning view of the sea. They have hammocks all over, tons of tables low to the ground with cushions to sit on, lots of white curtains, hanging lanterns, rugs, and plants scattered around. It’s dreamy.

Salt – just about the most chic and bohemian open-air restaurant I have been to. White wicker and wood furniture, plants and bougainvillea everywhere, striped pillows, loungers hanging from the ceiling by ropes… the décor of this place is what really drew me in, but the food and drinks are great as well.

Cantina Del Mar – the food here is just amazingly fresh and delicious, as well as ridiculously affordable. We were only on the island for 3 days and we ate here twice. I had the best Greek salad with tuna I have ever had here, as well as a really great grilled halloumi and avocado sandwich. They have delicious cocktails, juices, and smoothies too.

Grandma’s – if you’re looking for an elevated culinary experience on Ios, Grandma’s is the best bet. It’s located in the Liostasi Hotel in Chora which is just exquisite. It’s the most high-end accommodation you can find on Ios, way up on a cliff with a huge pool and enormous patio right at the edge for prime views and sunset-watching. We came here on our last night for dinner and let me tell you, it.was.perfect. The service was almost TOO good, the food and drinks were amazing, and the atmosphere of the hotel was beautiful.

The only other advice I can give is to really just relax and enjoy. The beaches on Ios are positively stunning with soft golden sand and warm, clear water. On Mylopotas Beach, you’ll have to pay a few euros to lay out, but it was definitely worth it as you get a comfy lounger and an umbrella. There is a section on the beach that is public and unpaid, but you’ll just be on your towel with no shade. There are also countless rocky cliffs and swimming spots all around the island.  When we got to our hotel, we were given a map of the island (it’s quite small) showing where all of the lesser-known beaches were on the island, and I can pretty much guarantee we would have had a lot of them almost to ourselves. Also, rent an ATV and go exploring! It’s the best way to see the island. Just make sure you get a good one with a stronger HP as we unfortunately got stuck with a dud that could barely get up a hill. I had imagined us whipping around the island happening upon glorious beaches, but unfortunately our ATV wasn’t cooperating so that vision of mine did not come true haha… the only disappointment of our entire time on the island. Overall, Ios was so uncomplicated, beautiful, and laidback, and I hope to visit again someday!

Gould Street Pumped Up Kicks

topshop red black paisley scarf print shorts

topshop red black paisley scarf print shorts

zara black sweatshirt cropped mesh detail

zara black sweatshirt cropped mesh detail

toronto ryerson fashion style bloggers

toronto ryerson fashion style bloggers

h&m black faux fur purse gold chain

h&m black faux fur purse gold chain

outfit printed shorts nike wedge dunks black sweatshirt

outfit printed shorts nike wedge dunks black sweatshirt

toronto fashion blogger street style summer

toronto fashion blogger street style summer

h&m leather faux moto jacket black ryerson lake devo

h&m leather faux moto jacket black ryerson lake devo

black white zigzag nike dunk wedge hi top high

black white zigzag nike dunk wedge hi top high

Wearing: Zara Sweatshirt | Topshop Scarf Print Shorts | Hat House Sunglasses | Nike Wedges | H&M Fur Bag

As a former Ryerson student, it's nice to return to my old stomping grounds every once in a while... OK not really, the campus is largely unimpressive, but makes for a decent shortcut sometimes when down by the Eaton Centre and Dundas Square. These were taken in transit between catching up on all my mall store shopping and patio lingering with Dayle. These Nike wedge dunks... ya either love em or ya hate em! Weigh in however you want, but I am firmly on the love side. Personally, I think they go with so many different outfits, are comfortable, and put a more unique (and... urban??) spin on any ensemble. On this day, I paired them with these great paisley scarf print shorts from Topshop, a black sweatshirt with mesh inserts, trusty faux leather moto, and my beloved faux fur bag.

Shop the look below:

Black-MOTO-Jacket-Faux-Leather
MissGuided-Costanza-Mesh-Detail-Sweatshirt
NIKE-Wedge-Sneaker-Black
TOPSHOP-Luca-Squared-Round-Sunglasses
Louche-Heart-Stoned-Necklace-Abibas
TOPSHOP-Scarf-Print-Shorts-Grey
MICHAEL-KORS-Blair-Watch

Denim Joggers in the Ryerson Quad

H&M Patterned Blouse Floppy Felt Had Oversized Round Sunglasses

H&M Patterned Blouse Floppy Felt Had Oversized Round Sunglasses

H&M Patterned Blouse Felt Hat Oversized Round Sunglasses

H&M Patterned Blouse Felt Hat Oversized Round Sunglasses

LILY White Leather Windsor Smith Sandals

LILY White Leather Windsor Smith Sandals

H&M Patterned Blouse Chambray Drawstring Pants

H&M Patterned Blouse Chambray Drawstring Pants

Oversized White Round Sunglasses Floppy Hat

Oversized White Round Sunglasses Floppy Hat

Forever21 Denim Jogging Pants

Forever21 Denim Jogging Pants

Black Felt Floppy Hat H&M Patterned Blouse

Black Felt Floppy Hat H&M Patterned Blouse

Forever21 Chambray Jogging Drawstring Pants

Forever21 Chambray Jogging Drawstring Pants

H&M Patterned Blouse

H&M Patterned Blouse

Wearing: H&M Patterned Blouse | Forever 21 Chambray Pants | Hat House Round Sunglasses | Mystery Felt Floppy Hat (I'll never tell) | H&M Rings

Once again we invaded a campus that we do not attend to snap some pics amongst the architecture. It just looks so much better than a boring street! Amidst the "she doesn't even go here" glares we perched up on the steps in the Ryerson quad and made this outfit look spiffier than it ever could on it's own. Adding a little pep to my step, Windsor Smith 'Lily' white leather sandals to compliment some chambray pants and a patterned blouse ensemble. Also making a reappearance; that floppy felt hat that seems to go well with everything these days. Just beware of gale force winds or you'll be clumsily chasing your lil chapeau down the street!

Shop the look below:

TOPSHOP-Wool-Floppy-Hat
Patterned-Blouse-HM
Chambray-Drawstring-Pants-Forever21
Lily-Chunk-Windsor-Smith-Sandal
ASOS-Jeepers-Peepers-Round-Sunglasses