New destination! We loved exploring Gargano, but we’ve now moved closer to home, to the dream villages of Cinque Terre. Let’s start our exploration with a review of La Francesca, our base to discover the wonderful nature in the area.
The story behind La Francesca
I fell in love with La Francesca even before we got there. I has seen drawings and pictures of the resort; colourful houses built on a mountainside, overlooking the wide, shimmering expanse of the Ligurian sea. I could even smell the Mediterranean maquis; the coconutty scent of ginestre, the pungent aroma of wild herbs, of pines. What a curious name, I thought. Francesca is a woman’s name, it must have been somebody’s wife, or sweetheart.
In fact, La Francesca takes its name from the ancient Via Francigena, also known as Francesca, the ancient pilgrim’s path that joined Rome to Canterbury and Santiago de Compostela. Yet, La Francesca is a woman’s dream; it is the dream of Gloria, the current owner’s mother. Gloria was a writer, and like many writers, she wanted a place to call her own. She fell in love with the nature, and in 1961 she bought the land.
Gloria’s first idea was to set up a commercial rose garden, but the area was too remote, the twisty narrow mountain streets too steep for delivery lorries. The idea was abandoned, and she decided instead to build a retreat.
Gloria was a woman ahead of her time. It would have been easier to get some heavy machinery in and level down the mountainside; but she didn’t want to upset the nature, and La Francesca’s 34 houses were built on stilts.
La Francesca today
Nowadays, La Francesca is the ideal place to get away for a while. We visited on a warm June night; the sun was setting and the whole resort seemed to be enveloped by nature, like a self-contained village appearing out of the wilderness. There is only one access road to La Francesca; you can’t see it from afar, but suddenly there it is, in front of you. An orange garden, just in front of our apartment, and a little further, the sea.
It was full moon, that night. We saw the moon rise from the sea, painting the mountains silver. We sat on our balcony looking at the moon drawing an arch across the starry sky, while waves crashed, faintly, over the rocks below us.
What to do at La Francesca
La Francesca is a destination in its own rights. There is everything you need to enjoy a holiday; a private cobbled beach, walking paths across the property, bordered by oaks and wildflowers, a swimming pool that was created as an artificial lake, to water the rose gardens. There is a shop to buy food to cook in your apartment, and a restaurant, overlooking the bay, serving local food.
If you want to explore the surrounding area, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Cinque Terre are the star attractions; but there are also three other natural parks in the area, with plenty of walking opportunities. Another great option is Portovenere and Golfo dei Poeti (Poets’ Gulf), an area that is less known that Cinque Terre, but of such beauty that it has inspired many Italian poets.
If you’re travelling without a car, you’re in for a treat. The 4 km walking path between La Francesca and Levanto, the closest town, passes through some disused railway tunnels, bordered with moss and glistening with trickles of water.
And wherever you turn, the sea never leaves you.
We spent a wonderful weekend at La Francesca, sleeping in, exploring the hills and the nature around Cinque Terre. We loved this place so much, we hope to be back one day.
Our stay at La Francesca was sponsored by the property owners in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed in this article are our own. We enjoyed our stay and recommend the properties highly.