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Luxury Sailing Holidays on the Italian Riviera: A Magical Week

August 18, 2012

This week we’ve had another action-packed and fun-filled family week.

We started off by visiting the beautiful Santa Marghetita Ligure, stopping just outside the port for lunch and a swim first. Having been for a run to Portofino and back and dodged all the Andrea Bocelli fans who were making their way to his exclusive concert in the square, we popped into town. Whilst strolling around and enjoying a delicious well-earned Italian Gelato, we discovered a crowd in the main square and on further investigation found out it was ‘Miss Santa Margherita 2012’!! We stayed until all the contestants had made it down the cat walk (in bikinis and very high heels with varying degrees of success!) and then decided there was not much to see and wandered back to the yacht.

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On Monday everyone was a bit late rising and we didn’t leave the harbour until just before midday! But we had no worries as we were only tootling across the bay to Chiavari. We got the sails up as soon as we left the harbour as there was a very rare breeze blowing and were soon cruising along at 7 knots. Very quickly though the wind dropped and we motored the last couple of miles to a lovely bay outside Chiavari. The water was so clear and warmbthat even I got in and stayed in for a good while! It was soon lunchtime and then we made a move into the harbour. Having called ahead and been told that 2.5 metres deep was too deep we reduced our draft to 2 metres and were allowed in!

After holding our breaths over the shallow patches in the entrance to the marina (0.6m under the keel!) we set off into the town to explore. The medieval arches have been left untouched and are stunning. The streets are closed to traffic at night and the shops set up on the street. There was also a concert in the square and some clowns at the marina! After a quick go on the bumper boats disguised as swans it was definitely time for bed!

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We ventured a bit further on Tuesday and anchored up in Levanto for the night. Having been told to move by the Coastguard for parking in the way of the trip boats, we settled in. The girls went kayaking and on the pedaloes and did lots of swimming. I managed another run and found an interesting route along the coast in the old railway tunnels-nice and cool but a bit eerie.

Later in the evening we explored the town and what a place it is! From the water it looks like a small beach resort but how wrong that impression is!! The later it got the more lively the town got and it is a lot bigger and certainly more upmarket than it appears at first. My nephew and niece now have lovely cereal/chocolate milk bowls and I have some postcards with ‘authentic’ Italian recipes on! There was some music playing on the promenade and people if an older generation dancing in ways I can only dream of Phil’s feet managing but later on it turned into a less welcome disco (until 3am!). There was a night market that had beautiful stalls selling hand-crafted jewellery, books, diaries, photo albums, toys, driftwood decorations and a beautiful sunset topped it all off!

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Wednesday saw us taking in the Cinque Terre. We motored down to Mandarola and the guests went ashore to explore. Having walked the Via Amore to Riomaggiore we picked them up and anchored back at Mandarola. After lunch the girls tried some snorkelling and the little one was off with Phil like a little sardine! The water around the Cinque Terre is beautifully clear and even at 14 metres deep we could see the bottom as well as shoals of tiny silver fish near the surface and bigger fish deeper down.

We were going to head back to Levanto for the night but instead we spent the night attached to a buoy in Monterosso, the largest of the Cinque Terre. Really it needs to be extremely calm and luckily for us the sea was on our side and we slept soundly. The night sky was clear and we gazed at the stars with jazz music drifting across on the night breeze. No one came to collect fees but a marine protection guy did come in the morning and give us a map of the protected areas.

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Thursday drifted on by with a visit to another new place, Sestri Levante. We didn’t really have a choice about stopping here as Donkey was running on hot air by the time we got there!! Having waited our turn in the fuel queue and then some, the gentleman filled us up! With Donkey fed we went and anchored up for some more fun in kayaks and on pedaloes. After a late lunch we nipped across the bay and into the very magical port of Portofino.

This week the port is much quieter as Bocelli fever has gone and now there’s just a lot of very rich people there arguing over Dior handbags and spending even more on bikinis and wine. Although the restaurants are full, the men seem to do all the eating and the women the drinking! I still like Portofino though as it’s very quiet (no boats can play music or cause any other disturbances to their neighbours after 9pm) and has a lovely relaxed atmosphere. A perfect place to while away the evening.

Waking up in Portofino is always a special occasion. There are no day trippers, locals are sleeping and the town belongs to the early risers. I woke at 7 and went for a jog around before doing breakfast, making bread and lemon cakes for lunch and having a tidy up. The guests took another trip ashore whilst everyone around us left and then the spaces quickly started filling up with super yachts.

Once we were underway we got the sails up and a had a great little sail to San Fruttuoso where our guests explored the beautiful monastery and took a dip in the clear blue water. We had lunch on the way back to Genoa as it was very bouncy in the bay. I’ve never seen a plate of hams disappear so quickly!!

And that was our week! Packed full of swimming, snorkelling, exploring, kayaking, pedaloes and even some sailing!

For your chance to join us on our adventures enquire now on 0845 653 0126 or visit essentialsailing.com

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