Alexandra Regan visits kid-friendly Portovenere, Italy

Instead of whisking her two kids around Florence, Venice and Rome, contributing writer Alexandra Regan and her family settle into a relaxing village on the Ligurian Coast for a week. She writes about excellent exploring opportunities as well as places to eat and stay. Enjoy the excerpts below!

“Portovenere, with its colorful houses perched on a rocky shore of the romantically named Gulf of Poets (Byron and Shelley once lived in the area), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but that’s not why the kids loved it. They were enchanted by the beach across from our villa, and my husband and I were happy to relax on the rocks while they played for hours.

“It is possible to do some serious hiking right from the hills above Portovenere, but just climbing the narrow winding streets and stone staircases to the top of village might be enough for the kids. We found a tiny playground – two swings and a teeter totter – just above the Church of San Lorenzo that has the best view of any playground I have ever visited.

“In addition to the frequent ferry service (as fast as and much easier than driving) to four of the five villages of the Cinque Terre, (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, and Monterosso) it is possible to visit the nearby islands by boat and to rent canoes and kayaks.”

“We ate many of our meals at home on our terrace (provisioned by a small grocery store in town), but nevertheless found time to return for lunch at Bacicio, a small café and restaurant we liked for its casual atmosphere and incredible pastas and pizzas. I ordered the same black pasta, tomato, onion, and anchovy dish several times in a row, each time wondering why I’d never had anything as good at home. Bacicio Via G. Capellini, 17 Portovenere.”