In our last minute scramble to find Cinque Terre accommodation we discovered good places to stay are somewhat scarce. An apartment/self-catering option was our preferred choice, having realised the only places still left were seriously dodgy, we threw in the towel and looked further out. Levanto was where we ended up – actually a perfect base. Just an hour and a half by direct train from Pisa, this little town is just one train hop west from the Cinque Terre (and included in the Cinque Terre pass). It is uncrowded, has some nice little restaurants and the accommodation is considerably cheaper – not to mention available – at this late stage in the game top of our checklist.
On a last minute booking website we finally found an apartment that would suit our needs and snatched it up. Not bargain basement prices, but not needing to take out a second mortgage either it seemed like a reasonable deal for this neck of the woods. We found on arrival it was not without charm, but basic was the buzzword here and there was not a single extra thing – not even a bar of soap. When you book somewhere to stay, read the small print very carefully would be my advice. The accommodation was reasonable but not without a lot of downsides, I would be a bit more discerning and ask a lot more questions next time. Insult was added to injury when we found this was not actually the place we had booked but something completely different. A very long story, not worth going into details but we ended up staying here figuring we didn’t want to waste precious time in this beautiful location arguing about nitty gritty details.
First the good bits – the apartment was in a lovely old building on a quaint street. Plenty of bakeries nearby to get breakfast options and some seriously nice little restaurants in the neighbourhood too meant no cooking for us. You could walk to the railway station – just about ten minutes, so no hassle with exploring and getting to the Cinque Terre proper.
Fifty steps to climb inside the building to reach our front door was not a problem (you have to work off that gelato somehow) but Husband did huff and puff a fair bit with our cases. Still, he likes a challenge. The hallway was pretty as a picture and stuffed full of quaint things, Son was mesmerised by an old telephone and other antiques.
The apartment was huge, floor space was no issue plus we had a quaint little balcony at the back – the perfect spot to catch the last few rays of the sun with a glass of vino and a good book. Views were good too – rooftops and greenery.
Now the not so good bits. The place was not exactly cheap and for what we did pay I would have expected just a little more. We paid extra for sheets and towels – rip and off were words that sprang to mind with this arrangement. One sheet each was what we got – not a blanket or any other bed covering in sight, shivering at night became a feature. That, plus the most uncomfortable beds in the whole wide world. I am not fussy, but the mattresses here were worn out and should have been dumped a very long time ago. Waking up in the morning and clambering out of the ravine in the middle of the mattress was quite some feat I can tell you. Absorbency was not a feature of the towels. The ktichen/dining/living area was very quaint and rustic – I liked that, but it did suffer from lack of seats. Three chairs seemed a little on the frugal side. We didn’t spend that much time in the apartment, you don’t want to anyway but we were not tempted back here at the end of the day.
There was no WiFi, a problem for Husband with work issues, but we got around that by visiting a different bar each evening and using their WiFi – that was definitely not a problem!
Levanto itself is charming and low-key. We arrived on a Sunday evening and found only one restaurant open, other days we had no such problems. Antico Borgo was our favourite restaurant, a great little Ligurian place just a couple of doors up from the apartment – full of character, very traditional we feasted on the most delicious green pasta with lobster. There are lovely shops, piazzas and even a beach – although you have to pay to gain access before 7pm. We went most evenings for free and checked out the surfers riding the waves.
Son particularly appreciated the playground right in the centre – we went there most evenings too. Funny how a full day of hiking, up and down a million and one steps and he still has bundles of energy for this!
So a mixed experience for us in Levanto. As a Cinque Terre base it definitely gets the thumbs up – everything is cheaper (note: not cheap but cheaper), the town is lovely with great eating out options and a friendly vibe and it is easy to get to and from by train. The apartment we picked was not without issues, had we had the luxury of time I may have been a little more discerning and less keen to overlook potential issues. Start looking a long way ahead for accommodation in this region – that would be my big tip. That said, it was clean, provided a roof over our heads and we will not forget it in a hurry.