It’s Always summer anywhere in the world: the charm of Five Lands, in Italy

Photo: Manarola

The color-patterned hills bordering the sea is one of the blends of geography and architecture offered by Italy to bring even more poetry to the European summer. Located in the Ligurian region, whose capital is Genoa, the famous artistically coloured cottages built throughout the hills are part of a cluster of small villages that make up the Five Lands (or, in Italian, Cinque Terre). They are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia and Monterosso al Mare.

The Cinque Terre amazes and enchants for a variety of reasons: the simple and happy architecture, the hand-crafted and cosy cuisine, the colorful and themed handiwork – sold and explained by those who love what they do, with local accents and the sun burnt-skinned, relaxed-looking of the typical ‘Italian from the beach’, who sees beauty in the small details of everyday life.

If you are going by train, you will arrive by La Spezia (one hour from Genoa, and about 3.5 hours from Milan or Rome), from where trains depart periodically to all five lands. The visitor can buy the tickets individually (that costs around 4 euros each), but the tip is the daily ticket, which, for 16 euros, offers free circulation for all train stops and even allows to share highlights on social media thanks to the exclusive wifi, which works throughout the region.

There is no ideal order to explore the villages. The region is small – the train ride from La Spezia to the last land, Monterosso Al Mare, takes about 30 minutes. One tip is to take advantage of the energy in the morning to explore Riomaggiore and Manarola, the closest to La Spezia, which have the most stairs and feature the most distinctive visuals. Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare are the hottest, which calls for longer strides and perhaps lunch and dinner stops to complete the experience. Corniglia is the smallest and least visited among the villages, it is worth docking in the late afternoon for a brief walk.

Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore

Starting with Riomaggiore, you can already feel the bucolic atmosphere since arrival. On the waterfront path that leads to the mountaintop – where the view becomes most charming and complete, the tour is guided by the calm neighborhood and vibrant nature. Upon reaching the coast, the magic happens thanks to the contrast of the blue of the Ligurian sea with the matching reds, yellows and greens that balance the full extent of the Riomaggiore hills. The tip is to explore the small streets and have a breakfast to try the specialties of the Ligurian lands.

Message stamped on the streets of Manarola
Message stamped on the streets of Manarola

The next destination is Manarola. The train ride takes a few minutes and there is a walk around the hill to see the true postcard of Five Lands. During some times of the year, there’s a trail called Via Dell’Amore, which crosses the route between Riomaggiore and Manarola. During the summer, although there is only a portion available – about 300 meters on the second land side – the view is worth the ride, even if brief. The landscape is breath-taking.

The surroundings are very similar – handicraft shops, cosy cafes and the full clotheslines on the balconies making up the decor of the place. If hunger strikes, try the seafood cones, a popular snack in the region.

From Manarola it is also possible to take a boat trip that travels the five lands, with tour guides who tell a little about the history, culture and particularities of each one. It is an interesting option to get to know them all in a quieter yet more superficial way.

Typical italian architecture in the streets of Vernazza
Typical italian architecture in the streets of Vernazza

Lunch time suggestion is in the most famous and popular among the Five Lands, Vernazza. In the main square, which forms a kind of small beach, there are boats, bars, restaurants and sunbathers relaxing on the rocks. Choose one of the restaurants there, which guarantee the sea view, and let the experience surprise you. As for gastronomy, you know, the odds of getting it right in Italy are 100%. But if you want to immerse yourself in local traditions, go for anchovy, the typical Ligurian fish, or local pasta, Trofie Al Pesto – the garlic, basil and olive oil sauce comes from Genoa, the Ligurian capital. For dessert, go for gelato (of course!).

Corniglia, the smallest of them, has no access by the sea: upon arrival the tourist can take a bus or climb about 360 steps to the village. This makes her the least visited. Even so, Corniglia delights with its almost rural alleys, small-town air and particular constructions – the Gothic style of St. Peter’s Church is worth a visit.

View of the Ligurian Sea from the Corniglia High Trail

To end the tour, the recommendation is to have dinner in the largest land of the microregion. Monterosso al Mare is quite different compared to its sisters – more modern, structured and flat (a treat to the legs after a day of uphill stairs). With a very wide coast, the seafront is very lively, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy the night facing the horizon. In addition, the city also has the upper part – where there is the statue and church of San Francisco – which offers a panoramic view of the wonderful landscape and a busy city centre.

The bustling beach of Monterosso Al Mare
The bustling beach of Monterosso Al Mare

If you decide to stay overnight, the village offers several accommodation options, and the tip is to wake up early the next day for a quick swim before saying goodbye to the colourful paradise.

Base Summer Factory: The hottest events in the most business city of Italy: Milan

Photo: The courtyard during More Than Words, an attraction that opens the stage for all types of artists.

The courtyard opened during More Than Words, an attraction that opens the stage for all types of artists.

Pizza, cute scooters and flowery balconies are guaranteed, but when it comes to Italian traditions, Milan is almost out of the list. At the busiest point in Italy, in the place of the sounds of gestural and overflowing conversations, there is a mix of languages, street musicians, and the noise of hurrying cars and motorcycles. Still, the city is far from being boring. A worldwide reference when it comes to design – whether it’s graphic, fashion, interior, and so on, Milan has a lot of artistic and, of course, creative potential.

Although its winter is severe (it snows!), The Milanese summer is one of the warmest in Italy, with temperatures around 40 degrees even after sunset – which happens around 9 pm during the season. As usual in big cities – and without beaches – many people end up escaping to the coast or to the lakes, but, day by day, the capital of Lombardy is opening up the range and offering interesting options for those who spend their time in the city.

Base is one of those committed to that. With the same meaning we know in English, the name in Italian comes from the initial structure to create something new. And, at Base, there are “new somethings” every day. The place is a mix of what’s trendiest and most democratic nowadays: cultural centre, art gallery, coworking, bar, restaurant and accommodation.

During the summer it gets even more interesting. Base Summer Factory (or, in the local language, Stabilimento Estivo) is a program that features cool attractions every day during the season, even if it rains.

The period, which slightly lengthens the summer season itself (its release was in May and the events take place until August), featured an opening party on May 29, with drinks and good music, and since then it has hosted whoever wants to want to meet nice people and interact with a universe of innovation and culture through experiences that involve art, gastronomy and a lot of creativity.

During the day, the routine is almost the same as the other stations: from 9:30 am the work and study space opens, accompanied by the local bistro bar. The change is the summer bar, located on the outdoor patio, where drinks start being served from 6.30 pm.

The outdoor bar during Milanese sunset
The outdoor bar during Milanese sunset

In the late afternoon, the schedule starts to heat up. Every Monday, for example, from 9:30 pm to 1am, the space is open to all types of artists who have something to show. The patio stage hosts readings, debates, stand-up comedy, poetry contests, and so on.

When it comes to Tuesdays, the protagonist is one of the main traditions of the country: wine. The tasting – from different producers each week – offers 3 kinds of drink – red, white and sparkling. Always outdoors, to the sound of contemporary jazz.

Wednesday is aperitif day. The Italian happy hour, which combines drinks and food at Base, takes place mid-week, from 6.30 pm to 1 am. The soundtrack is on the web radios carried by students from the best – and coolest – arts universities in Milan.

As the weekend approaches, the plans start to get busier and more music oriented. Thursdays are up to a Linecheck warm-up, one of the coolest festivals in Italy. Pre-events at Base host some of the line-up artists who present their stories, sets and inspirations.

In addition to the entire summer factory, the establishment hosts the Escola Estiva do Fazer Criativo (Summer creative school), a session of short courses, lasting one to three days, always focusing on innovation and creativity. Topics include illustration, classic painting, web marketing and fundraising.

The drawing course is one of the courses offered by the school.
The drawing course is one of the courses offered by the school.

Throughout the year, Base offers parties that mix experimental music, quality DJ sets, discussions with guests engaged in leading causes and other interesting events, which make the place always crowded by the curious people who come to Milan looking for new stories, languages ​​and ways of thinking.