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Chiavari & Lavagna

18 November 2013 3,169 views No Comment

If you go east along the Ligurian coast from Genoa the next big town that you get to is Chiavari. Trains go direct to Chiavari from Turin, a lovely civilised ride all through the nice Asti – Alessandria countryside. And if, like me, you book somewhere cheap and cosy to stay, you actually end up in no-man’s land, twenty minutes walk from Chiavari and twenty minutes walk from Lavagna, the next little town.

Lavagna town & hillside walk

Lavagna has a huge marina. You can buy, rent and park boats here, and there are heaps & heaps of them, all different sizes & types. I like the medium sized sailing boats with greyish planks on the deck. After the marina, Lavagna’s beach stretches long and uninterrupted. photo 3-2It’s not a pretty beach. The sand is mud coloured, there’s loads of driftwood and debris, and the beach backs directly onto the railway tracks, which I hope makes for a cracking train journey because the consequence is a horrid beach experience. Actually the driftwood is a bit of mystery because this is a sheltered bay and there are no waves at all. Great swimming conditions but no explanation for great chunks of wood appearing on the shore.
Lavagna town is little, comprising neat piazzas, arched walkways and grand churches springing from nowhere. I did a good hike up to the next village on the hill, Cogorno. The walk follows the same trail that ladies used in the olden days to carry slate up and down the hill. Nad raised a good question, what were the men doing? Building all the churches with the slate one can assume but I don’t actually know. While the road snakes up the hill, the trail is a more direct climb although you have to be lucky to find it because there are no sign posts and the slate tiles are overgrown in a lot of places. It’s interesting though, going in-between houses, gardens & orchards. There were orange trees and loads & loads of olive trees. Later at my guesthouse, with a glass of wine, my hosts gave me some of the olives that they grow and cure themselves (forty days in salt and water, rinse, put into more salt and water and they’re ready to eat), they were nice – small, fawny brown, with skinny bits of tasty flesh on the stone. The sun was starting to lower as I walked back down to Lavagna, it was a reasonably clear day and the whole hillside was a gorgeous rosy pink. At its final departure the sun was glowering red turning the sky golden yellow and shiny.
My guesthouse had a large balcony with a nice bit of view over the waterfront, perfectphoto 5 for evening hanging out and getting to know the friendly hosts and their little daughters.
In Lavagna town there are heaps of places to eat, here (in no-man’s land) there are less, thank goodness for the marina traffic or there’d be zero! I chose Ristorante Birreria Silvie, which, rather unusually, is a Bavarian restaurant. Very good it was too: giant bread pretzel to start – salty heaven, trofie pesto and grilled veggies for main – very tasty. You could have all sorts of wursts and schnitzels, and the beer menu was impressive.

Chiavari seafront

Chiavari is the larger town of the two. Nothing specific to see here but pleasant for wandering around: nice piazzas,photo 4-4 arched walkways with unusual tiles, massive churches. The botanical gardens were good for a wander and the waterfront here is nicely done – big promenade, water features, little cafes. I’d been running along Lavagna in the morning so I was ready for a good lunch. At Caffe’ delle Carrozze I had a lovely fruit salad, two tuna & tomato bruschettas and soy cappuccino, home for a little sleep, then back to Pizza M’aMa in the evening for farinata and capricciosa pizza, all very delicious.

This part of the world isn’t knock-out amazing, but it is relaxed, relaxing and easy to hang about in. The real highlight for me was my very friendly and accommodating hosts, they were totally charming, and I can never be grateful enough to anyone (my dad knows this) who gives me a lift to the station on a Monday morning when it’s chucking it down! Grazie.

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