For those struggling through the Winter in need of a little sunshine, idyllic beaches and crystal blue water, this post is for you. For those dreaming of cycling in the Cinque Terre but overwhelmed by the thought of the steep never ending hills then this alternative could be a better way to start the holiday, cycling Ligurian coast.
For me it was a good day to get away from the crowds in the Cinque Terre and try something different, although I had cycled a small part of the path some years before. The area that I had missed turned out to be the best and is on my list to do again when I have visitors.
The villages we were to explore are sometimes referred to as the ‘Tre Terre‘ – Levanto, Bonassola, Framura, and there has always been a certain jealous rivalry between them and the Cinque Terre. It’s only a short train ride away to Levanto, our starting point. Hiring bikes was easy, the first rental place we came across being run by a layback American surfer now permanently settled in the area. Two mins ride towards the beach of Levanto and we were already on the Maremonti cycle path inaugurated in 2011, considered one of the most beautiful routes in the whole of Liguria. About 6km of flat bike path with deliciously cool illuminated tunnels with breaks along the way and breathtaking views and idyllic beaches.
The track reuses the old railway line, a masterpiece of 1874, electrified in 1926, between Genoa and Pisa. In the 1970s with the duplication of the La Spezia line to Sestri Levante, some sections were abandoned and today they have become the pedestrian cycle path.
Our first stop, after 3kms, is Bonassola, a sweet village with buildings decorated in the typical Ligurian style and a long stretch of pebble beach submersed in umbrellas.
Crystal clear water entice us but there is barely standing room and we have hardly exercised our biking stamina.
Jack from Surflevanto had fortunately advised us to stop at Porto del Pidocchio ( Louse Port!?) between Bonassola and Framura so we moved on. A break in the tunnel and seeing a line of bikes parked we knew we must be there. Well hidden from view is a narrow inlet surrounded by high black rocks, and alluring blue water that reaches over your head after the first step. A modest crowd dot the beach leaving space for everyone and dwindled over lunchtime. Not a peep of urban noise spoils the tranquility of the place….and no lice in sight!
Still we know there is more to come and after a couple of hours in this idyllic spot we need to finish the ride to the third village of Framura
Immediately out of the tunnel is the tiny port of Framura, brightly coloured fishing boats, canoes and tiny yachts tied up and locals stretched out amidst mermaids and anchors under the watchful eye of the Madonna standing on the rocky outcrop.
The bike path ends here, and a rather convoluted pedestrian walk under, over, and around the railway station leads us to Torsei beach complete with bar doing a roaring trade. Yet there is still ample room to stretch out and sunbake and cool down in crystal clear water