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Vernazza: Villa Eremo sul Mare


Reviewed by: Jenny the Artist from IN, review #659

When: July 2004

Paradise found in Vernazza ... for the traveler who dares to travel light and hike a rough trail.

Dante had to travel through hell and purge his sins upon the Mountain of Purgatory before he reached Paradise. At the end of his treacherous journey he may have found Villa Eremo sul Mare. It was one of the highlights of our trip, but word of caution. This place is not for the weak hearted, or heavily packed tourist.

One begins the trek at the train station, most likely. Locate the trail marker for Corniglia. You climb endless stone stairs to a tower structure that marks the beginning of the Corniglia trail head. Once you reach the trail house, directions in hand, hope appears on the horizion, but oh no...you've conquered the easy part. You begin the trail head...a dusty path wide enough at times for barely two abreast. Rocks jut out making any type of rollable luggage impossible. Then you hit the trail steps...rugged arrangements of stone that rise, twist, spiral, and rise some more. When at last the poison darts of your family's eyes have begun to pierce your very soul and your own dreams and aspirations that "this will be the perfect place" seem forever lost, you reach the Green door; The Portal to Paradise".

But alas, instead you've only found the entrance to the Mountain of Purgatory...for once inside, you begin your most difficult ascent. This is where you purge the last eight gelatos, the limoncello rises in your throat and you think you can't go on. Each step rises about 20 inches high, up and up and UP you climb. And then you see it. THE VILLA. Hope builds, strength renews, and finally it is there.

It is everything the pictures portray it to be and even better. It is a 5 bedroom B&B with three terraced porches that overlook the Ligurian sea. All you can hear is the sea breeze and the birds. All you can see is God's glorious nature. Paradise found!

Ada, the very sweet English speaking housekeeper, arrives at 8am and departs daily around 2. Breakfast is simple cereal, focaccia and toast. Hot Cocoa is incredible. There is a refrigerator for guests to use, a washing machine and clothesline outside. The common areas are comfortable. Cell phones and portable devices work. Our kids 13, 11, & 7 ran around the terraced grounds playing Lord of the Rings (A "Helmsdeep" kinda place) collecting lemons, passion flowers and rosemary twigs. Our rule was, do not go out of the green door.

Once you've found the place, successive excursions are still difficult, but not as strenuous as the first luggage-laden maiden trek. Most importantly, this is a backpack or very light bag destination for people who have strong legs, do not suffer from Vertigo and a have a flashlight for evening returns.

We had two rooms for our family. Cost was 85/double/night including breakfast; 110/triple/night including breakfast. Payment is in CASH only.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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