James Bond or Disney – The Porto Roca Hotel, Cinque Terre, Italy

Monterosso volo
Monterosso volo

Like stepping on to the set of a James Bond movie, my taxi ride from the train in Monterosso to the Porto Roca Hotel was an adventure to remember.  My heart skipped a beat during this short 7 minute drive, as we navigated through a sea of pedestrians who shared the only one lane road out of the train station. This road soon turned into a winding, snake like drive up a steep cliff, reminiscent of a roller coaster at Disneyworld.  To finally arrive at the Porto Roca Hotel, is like arriving at the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, with its romantic, spectacular and breathtaking vistas.

Why Cinque Terre? Why Monterosso?

The landscape of Cinque Terre is simply breathtaking. Cinque Terre is composed of five villages, built along a lush, green mountain and forms a chain of villages that run parallel to the sea. Monterosso is the largest, oldest and most populated of the five coastal villages. The rich vegetation embraces the surrounding hills, with its abundant grape vines, lemon and olive trees.

The beautiful reefs and the sea’s crystal clear waters, makes Monterosso one of the most hospitable spots along the Ligurian Riviera. With the only extensive beach in Cinque Terre, Monterosso is a favorite spot for tourists.  The beach is lined with bright orange and green fabric beach chairs and umbrellas from June to the end of September.

The scenic, medieval village is dominated by the ruins of the castle and characterized by typical narrow pedestrian walkways with multi-colored terraced houses. Historically, many of the villages on the Mediterranean were walled to protect against attacks from the sea, as this area of the coast was often attacked by pirates. The strong sense of history makes this a unique and inspiring location.

Vistas to Die For

The Hotel Porto Roca is literally built high into the side of a cliff at the edge of the sea and provides one of the most spectacular, unobstructed views in Monterosso. From this private location, one forgets that the "hustle and bustle" of the busy town in summer, is a short 5 minute walk away. Porto Roca provides peace and tranquility in an area that can be overrun with tourists, especially during the day.

The infinity pool, built on the edge of a cliff, is an architectural dream, given its unique location. Overlooking the Ligurian Sea, this is one of the few swimming pools in Cinque Terre. On the sandy beach in the village, claiming a beach chair and umbrella is easy, convenient and comes at no extra cost for guests of the hotel.

A View with a Room

The view from the room was absolutely spectacular. With a private terrace, including lounge chairs, and a separate seating area, there was really no reason to leave the room.  Linens are of excellent quality including sheets embroidered with the name of the hotel. Luxurious and local toiletries are excellent and offer a special extra touch. Added to this, the genuinely wonderful staff, who are prepared to attend to every request, make for a most personal and comfortable stay.


Sitting outdoors for meals, on a terrace overlooking the sea was one of the highlights of the Porto Roca experience. The generous and well presented breakfast buffet had something for everyone, including yogurts, cheeses and meats, decadent Italian pastries and even gluten free items. A full dinner menu is available, offering traditional Cinque Terre cuisine, using mostly local products. Typical dishes include mostly, fish, seafood and pasta. Essential ingredients of olive oil, lemons, basil, marjoram and wild herbs are abundant. The focaccia, stuffed with rosemary should not be missed and is particularly delicious accompanied by soft cheeses such as goat cheese or stracchino.

TIPS: 1.Travel by train. Today, the best way to get to Monterosso is to take local or intercity trains. Driving is on a narrow, steep and winding stretch of road and parking is very limited. 2. A taxi ride from the train station to the hotel takes five minutes. 3. Bring comfortable walking shoes if you intend to walk the short distance back and forth to town, as the route is steep and the top paved with a slippery, marble-like flooring. 4. Request a room with a sea-view, which is worth paying a little extra for.

Book directly through the hotel at http://www.portoroca.it. Donna Salle is a freelance writer, living in New York City and would love to hear from you at TravelsWithHeart@gmail.com.