Pesto, Pasta, and the Cinque Terre: Liguria, Italy Culinary Vacation
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Pesto, Pasta, and the Cinque Terre

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Liguria may be known best for the Cinque Terre, but travel up the coast and you'll discover a hidden gem: the charming surf town of Levanto, also known as "the northern door of the Cinque Terre." Similar to the Cinque Terre — or "five lands" — Levanto is populated with colorful houses, 20th-century villas overlooking the sea, and small vineyards producing Sciacchetrà wine. The cuisine here too hails from the garden, sea, and woods, making any local dish a veritable feast of the senses. From seafood to honey, marmalades, and olive patés, delicacies abound. But don't forget about the herbs — rosemary, sage, thyme, and most importantly basil — as they play an integral role in the regional cuisine, such as the infamous Genovese pesto.

Discover the flavors of Levanto while staying at a charming agriturimso located just a few miles from the Ligurian coast. Once the summer home of an aristocratic family, today this renovated 17th-century estate welcomes guests like family. Situated on 15 hectares of olive groves and vineyards, the estate's products are still cultivated manually, due to the surrounding steep terrain, and organically. But that hard work is worth it, as the fruits of their labor yield delicious olives and grapes as well as a plethora of other vegetables and fruits. As for your accommodations, every one of the junior suites has their own private terrace or garden with their own panoramic views of the beautiful land.

About the cooking class: Learn about Ligurian cuisine traditions with Chef Alberto, who grew up in the area and previously owned and operated restaurants of his own. Your two hands-on cookery courses will focus on typical Ligurian dishes featuring fresh and flavorful ingredients, many of which come straight from the agriturismo's property.

Pesto, Pasta, and the Cinque Terre Itinerary

Day 1

  • Arrive at Levanto train station and private transfer to the agriturismo, your accommodations for the week.
  • Meet the owner of the farmhouse and get an introduction to the estate and its organic products, olive groves, and vineyards.
  • Enjoy a welcome cocktail followed by a light dinner featuring typical Ligurian ingredients, wine included.
  • Overnight.

Day 2

  • Enjoy breakfast out on the enchanting flower-filled terrace.
  • In the morning, a private car will transfer you to Levanto to meet your private guide. In Levanto, visit the ancient church of Sant’Andrea — the symbol of the village with its black and white stripe facade; and visit a local farm to learn about the local wines, extra virgin olive oil, and typical products of the area, such as marmalades, honey, olive patés, and sauces.
  • Light lunch in Levanto.
  • In the afternoon, attend your first hands-on cooking class with the chef of your accommodations. Chef Alberto will teach you how to prepare typical Ligurian recipes, such as foccacia in the Genovese style, vegetable quiches, and the region’s renowned pesto.
  • An aperitvo will be served out on the terrace followed by candlelight dinner based on your efforts.
  • Overnight.

Day 3

  • Breakfast.
  • Meet your guide in the morning for a full-day tour of the Cinque Terre. You’ll visit the villages of Monterosso, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, and Manarola — these towns make up this stunning area of shoreline and rocky cliffs. Stop for lunch in a typical Manarola restaurant with wonderful views of the sea.
  • Dinner on your own. (Return transfer by private car included).
  • Overnight.

Day 4

  • Breakfast.
  • Meet your guide at the agriturismo, and then take a train to Corniglia. Once there, you’ll depart on a hike that follows Volastra’s Ring, passing through typical Ligurian vineyards (that produce Sciacchetrà wine), and ending in Manarola.
  • Your guide will take you to a typical Osteria for a light lunch (wine included).
  • Return to Levanto by train.
  • In the afternoon, attend your second hands-on cooking class, in which you’ll prepare such dishes as pansotti and pesce alla ligure. Dinner to follow based on your efforts.
  • Overnight.

Day 5

  • Breakfast.
  • Today is a day on your own. Perhaps take an excursion by train to Portofino and San Fruttuoso, rest at the agriturismo, explore Monterosso, or visit the other villages of the Cinque Terre. You may also rent a bike and take the bike trail that goes along an old railway from Levanto to the enchanting villages of Bonassola and Framura; biking along the sea, you’ll discover marvelous, untouched bays.
  • A farewell dinner in a gourmet restaurant in Levanto, and transfers to/from the farmhouse.
  • Overnight.

Day 6

  • Breakfast followed by departure to Levanto train station.