At the start of September I embarked on a spontaneous trip to northern Italy, and of course, me being me... I took a ton of photos. Despite not being an expert on the areas I visited, I figured I would share the photos I took, along with sharing my recommendations from the trip!

The visit was actually to see Sam, a friend of mine who had been on an erasmus in Genoa for the academic year and it was coming to an end. I'd been saying I'd visit all year, but I'm that person who doesn't function unless I'm last minute and stressed, so naturally I visited the last possible week before his exams and moving back to the UK. I had no idea what to expect really, except that the weather looked good, it was near a colourful coast I wanted to visit (I later found this to be Cinque Terre) and I could potentially visit Milan for the day and potentially buy the dream Balenciaga boots I'd been lusting over.







Genoa


Genoa itself was a very picturesque port, and made the perfect base for my other Italian excursions... it also had the best pizza I've ever eaten for €5, true story. (Miss you pizza place of my dreams.) The whole city is full of history and beautiful architecture, also being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.











A short bus ride from the city took us to Nervi, a former fishing village, turned seaside resort - home of a glorious 22 acre park (The Parchi di Nervi) and their pride, the Passeggiata Antita Garibaldi, a 2km walkway along ocean cliffs with turquoise water lapping at the rocks below (I later realised quite how impressed I was of this turquoise water by the magnitude of photos I took of it...).



The promenade itself is often regarded as one of Italy's most beautiful promenades and I can sure see why. Despite being rocky, swimming was great in Nervi. Smoothed by the sea, the rocks made a less messy alternative to sand, and boy, how shocked was I at how warm the sea was!! Northern Italy started ticking all of those holiday goals pretty quickly, and I loved everything a lot more than I thought I would.








I think I witnessed potentially the best sunset of my life whilst in Nervi, but I also received my first ever train fine, from forgetting to get a ticket home... being a badass doesn't always work out, huh?




Cinque Terre

Ah, beautiful Cinque Terre... the instagram moneymaker. I'd seen this colourful coast all over the internet and vowed I would visit it, so when I found out I had a friend living within a 2 hour journey from it, I was there! I had no idea about Cinque Terre before I arrived apart from 'hey I like the look of you!'. Little did I know it wasn't just a singular place as such, it was what it means in Italian (Italian clearly not being my strong point...) 'five lands', meaning the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. 







You access the picturesque costal villages by railway or boat, but either way be prepared for A LOT of tourists. We set out as early as we could via train, but even arriving the time we did, the villages were heaving with tourists. Our first location, and potentially my favourite, was Riomaggiore.




Riomaggiore presented everything I had envisioned from Cinque Terre, with the buildings and scenery, but also what pleasantly surprised me again was the crystal clear water, perfect for taking a dip in.












A few minutes along the coast by train took us to Manarola, the most recognisable village to me. You have to hike up quite high to take in the full view, which in 32 degrees heat was a little bit of a challenge, but it was so worth it.



I think photos speak louder than words for this place, so I'll just leave you with these:

















We missed Corniglia as that village is just viewed by boat, and headed to Vernazza. Sadly our time here and visiting the next village Monterosso al Mare was cut short (excuse the pun) but a rusty pipe injury, which we were warned needed medical attention for a tetanus shot.

Even so I took in what I could of Vernazza, but sadly didn't get the opportunity to hike up to higher ground for the real view.






Monterosso al Mare is the more beachy village, filled with colourful parasols. It would have been great to have seen and relaxed at, but sadly the hospital was more important so raincheck for my next trip to this area!

As much as I adored Cinque Terre, I feel I should add, if you are only in the area a day or so, Portofino offers just as beautiful views and experience, but a fraction of the tourists...

Milan


Sam had exams coming up and couldn’t spend the week fully galavanting around with me, so on one of the days I took a lone trip to Milan. I think it was around €30 return via train and took around 2 hours from Genoa… an opportunity i couldn’t miss having not visited the city before.


It was a bit daunting at first, but there was wifi everywhere and it made for a nice day to wander around the city at my own pace, trying not to die from the heat and humidity. I got the metro from the train station, which is worth seeing itself, straight to Duomo di Milano - Milan's famous and gothic, sinister and basically evil looking (in my opinion, but in the best possible way) cathedral.







I had no real agenda except to take in the city, and potentially track down a pair of the Balenciaga boots I was after...


Alas the boots weren't in my size, but I was able to finally decipher the size needed to order another time! (These boots may or may not be mine now...)




Again the architecture blew me away and I became really fond of Milan during the hours I visited, vowing to visit again for one of the Milan Fashion Week seasons!

























This guy embraced the booty pic almost as much as I do...









Portofino


There's no doubt about it, Portofino well and truly stole my heart. Where else (other than my beloved Mykonos) do you find a Louis Vuitton in a small village? ...and also bump into Kris and Kourtney Jenner, whilst they're moored in the harbour in a super yacht??






Visiting Portofino from Genoa, again, was very easy and took around an hour and a half with the train and bus, certainly making a wonderful day trip but if you did want to make Portofino a holiday or weekend away - the Belmond Hotel Splendido is without a doubt the place to be.




Belmond Hotel Splendido holds an unrivalled location in Portofino overlooking the beautiful harbour. Located on a steep hill, giving it those amazing views, it is complete with security to regulate who can access, operating a complimentary shuttle service for guests who aren't about that climb whilst in their Louboutins...







I was ever so grateful to have been invited to the hotel whilst whilst visiting Portofino, and I was blown away by the whole place. Originally a Benedictine monastery dating from the 16th century, it opened it's doors to visitors in 1902 and has since been a popular location for the rich and famous - and I can sure see why. Not to mention the fact paparazzi are unable to reach guests here, the hotel itself is absolutely beautiful, with the decor emphasising the elegance and charm of the whole place, still very reminiscent of the original feel of the place from what I can imagine it looked like when it first opened in the 19th century. The staff were nothing but polite and helpful, with every request met - and I sort of felt like I was in a Bond Film up there surrounded by such effortless glamour?





Aside from the phenomenal views from the salt water infinity pool, you also get the hotel's well kept gardens to explore, plus the hotel's picture perfect terrace to sit, eat, drink and relax in.








Splendido had so much charm to offer and I can see why a lot of guests who stay during the summer are people who revisit each year. If I didn't think I liked the hotel enough already, it is also dog friendly! So if you do have a dog or two (or more than two if you're that lucky!!), who also wants to take in the best views of Portofino, then they are welcome to come along for the holiday too!


Aside from the harbour in Portofino, we also visited Paraggi Beach, which again made such a nice spot to swim from, with the water clear and refreshing. I don't agree with most of the beach being sectioned off into rental areas (yep, €30ish to visit the beach...), but there is a thin free bit in the middle that us, the cheapskates, took advantage of!




We headed to higher ground with some beers for sunset, and as you can see it was definitely worth it. The restaurants come alive in the evening and the whole village becomes a twinkling of romantic lights.







My only regret from my time in Northern Italy was that I wish I could have stayed a little longer to have gotten the chance to visit Venice, however no doubt Venice shall be explored by me in the near future anyway!