19-20 May: Gorgeous Cervo (You won’t find it in the Lonely Planet)

Author: Mrs A

Location: Cervo, San Bartholomo al Mare & Diane Marina, Italian Riviera, Italy

Sunday: With just an 18km journey between locations, it was one of our shortest journeys yet, but not without its challenges! We followed a busy stream of traffic and our Google directions down a one way road, which appeared to get narrower and narrower with a line of parked cars down one side and a wonky stone wall on the other.

We pulled to one side to assess our options. With traffic constantly coming down the road, reversing was going to be impossible without significant help…and going forwards looked equally daunting without potential damage to Truffy and/or parked cars. Not a fun situation.

One of the cars passing us slowed and wound down his window. We half expected abuse for blocking the road, but no, the Italian driver told us that the road is not as bad as we thought, and that as a motorhome driver himself he was confident we could drive down safely. Mr A bravely took off, me walking in front, letting him know how much space was either way. To increase stress levels, a bus was following us, but amazingly was very patient. When Mark pulled over on a wider piece of road, the bus driver even indicated he understood the caution and gave me a thumbs up. Phew! Another skilful negotiation of a tricky road – absolute kudos to Mr A for excellent driving. We could not imagine such patient drivers in Sydney – they’d be much quicker on the horns!

So we arrived at our next destination with no damage done, a campground beside the beach 15 minutes walk from the village of Cervo. We immediately set off to explore.

Stormy skies over Cervo but we didn’t get too wet

Cervo has around 1200 residents, many of them artists, sculptors, wood carvers, painters and jewellers. The village largely built up around an initial Roman villa more than 2000 years ago. Like France, Italy has a ‘most beautiful villages‘ classification and Cervo has well deservedly achieved that recognition.

The streets are very steep, and at the moment I am not breathing too well…but made it with a little wheezing. Mark is suffering with tendonitis in his calf, so also struggled up the streets – not doing brilliantly between us! It was well worth all the effort though, with gorgeous views, interesting little alleyways and of course the friendly village cat there to meet us at the top!

Curvy cobbled steps lead us up into the village
A well looked after village, touches of colour and flowers everywhere
Trees growing on seemingly impossible surfaces
Even the snails are colour coordinated

Endless beautiful laneways enticing us down
You can almost imagine the lives that have taken place in these streets over the centuries
‘St George and the Dragon’ mural painted in the early 1900s after sailors from England shared the story with local artists

Fortified walls evident at the top of the village

Italian cats say ‘Ciao’

A fine view from outside the church

One of the key highlights in the village is the Romanesque Oratorio di Santa Caterina church. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the historical and artistic significance of this magnificent building, having pride of place looking out to sea and covered with incredible frescoes (mural paintings painted on plaster).

Heading up into the church

Incredible frescoes cover the walls and ceilings
A grand gold and marble alter
The equivalent of the church hall, all set up ready for a conference

Such a picturesque area, with plenty of exploring to be done. We can only imagine how busy it gets here in the summer holidays, despite the fact that Cervo does not appear in the Lonely Planet and has a pebbly beach.

All this exploring worked up an appetite and we went along to Pizza Pazza, the restaurant right next door for dinner in the evening. Yet another fabulous meal, and again at a fraction of the price we would pay in the UK or Australia, including a bottle of wine.

Monday: Glimmers of blue skies greeted us so we leaped on the task of washing first thing. Once everything was either hung out or dried we decided to go exploring in the other direction, biking our way to the next little settlement, San Bartholomo al Mare.

There are no bike lanes here, but the drivers continue to be quite respectful of cyclists, keeping their distance and no agression at all. This is all in absolute contrast to what we have been led to expect by the various blogs we’ve read – maybe our expectations have been lowered by our experiences on the road in Australia and New Zealand?

We took a random uphill road just to explore, and were soon making use of the motors on our electric bikes to take us up past gated villas with incredible views, meadows and Ligurian olive groves. It was all very picturesque.

Gorgeous views across to Cervo on our ride
Even ‘warm’ enough for shorts!

Garden like wildflowers along our cycle

Terraced olive groves are plentiful here with agriculture still a key source of income

Beautiful orchids growing by the side of the road

We then cycled up to the next settlement, riding up a cycle friendly pedestrianised area and finding a little pizza place for lunch – yes, they even did me a pizza without cheese! We both ordered the small portion, which ended up being absolutely huge. Despite the fact I only ate half, we had no need to eat for the rest of the day!

4 Replies to “19-20 May: Gorgeous Cervo (You won’t find it in the Lonely Planet)”

  1. Loved reading what you wrote and ohhhh yes wonderful photos.

    Please keep posting.

    Hope one day you visit Bulgaria, for it’s absolutely amazing too, with lovely people, extremely picturesque, loads of history, great food and cheap diesel (compared to other European countries).

    1. Ah yes definitely one day Bulgaria is on our list…maybe not this year, but perhaps next year 🙂 We’re planning to travel for a while yet (health permitting!). Hopefully you’ll give us some tips!

      1. But of course, always here to help…..and who knows maybe you’ll visit us too, for we are located just 2 km from the Greek boarder.

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