When La Francesca approached me with the kind offer to host me over a weekend, I was thrilled. Cinque Terre in Italy has been always on my travel bucket list and this was a perfect opportunity to finally make the dream come true.
We spent there a weekend at the end of September 2015 and although we were hosted by La Francesca, the views and thoughts in this review are entirely my own.
La Francesca is situated between Bonassola and Levanto and serves as a great gateway to Cinque Terre national park. It’s easily accessible by car if you follow signs and instructions on their website, not so comfortably if you go by foot.
The resort itself is nice and has its pros and cons. The biggest plus, but also a minus at the same time is its hilly location, which offers amazing views of Ligurian sea (calming and beautiful at any time) but on the other hand, you won’t escape some workout as you walk up every day from the restaurant or the beach, which are both located much lower than bungalows and apartments.
Speaking of them, apartments are situated at the top of the resort and are a bit tucked away from the reception and all the fun. Which gives you some privacy (although there is a series of apartments right next to each other) but some may feel a bit alone.
As we stayed in an upper apartment, as opposed to villas or the other kind of apartments, I’ll elaborate on these.
Upper apartments are small and very basic but as we spent most of the time exploring Cinque Terre and came back just to recharge and have a good night’s sleep, I didn’t mind.
One opinion I read repeatedly in the reviews before our arrival was that the resort could utilise some redecorating and I totally agree with that. Especially the tiny bathroom threw me some 18 years back when I felt like on a Eastern European school trip before people started renovating their hotels so they still had this socialist feel.
Everything was in working order though so if you’re okay with simple and a little bit out dated accommodation, you’ll be fine.
What made up for the apartments was the kindness of the staff. They were helpful and accommodating and even when we spoke with the lady in the bar who spoke no English, she was very friendly and we got by.
A special note for vegetarians – if you’re truly vegetarian (no meat and fish at all), you’ll have limited options for dinner. Normally, you would every morning choose from two dishes at the bar where breakfast is served (t’s more like a cafe than a bar though), but only one option from four is always vegetarian. Other dishes contain meat or fish.
When we were visiting La Francesca, the chef always prepared me a second vegetarian dish from whatever they had in the kitchen (even if I specifically said in the morning that I’m okay with just one dish, ha) which was very kind but I can imagine that people who like to choose what they will eat and have a full control over their dinner might not be very happy about it – you’ll find out what your second dish is only as it’s being served.
Also, every morning the dinner options are written on a board outside the bar in Italian (and are handwritten, which may be less easy to read) so if you don’t speak any Italian, you’ll need help of the staff. Or you can try translate it with your smart phone just like we did.
Speaking about translating and using a smart phone, WiFi is another thing to mention. If you’re like me and working on your travels, you probably need to be online almost constantly.
Well, that’s a bit harder to achieve in La Francesca. While they have several hot spots where the signal is fine (reception, pool, restaurant, bar) as they said, they cannot guarantee that WiFi works in the apartments.
Oh-oh, I thought when I heard it right after arrival. And WiFi really didn’t work inside our apartment. But luckily, I found that when I was sitting on the terrace as close to the railing as possible, I was online! Which might be a bit uncomfortable when you’re trying to plan your day early in the morning or want to upload some photos later in the evening when it’s dark and cold outside, but the thick blanket from the bedroom makes it a bit more comfortable.
Some other things about La Francesca that are worth mentioning
- Albeit the beach is small and not sandy, it makes a nice walk from the top of the resort. Right next to the beach were a couple of hammocks and I could imagine spending whole afternoons there on a sunny day.
- The restaurant has a great terrace where you can sunbath in the day and watch the sun go down in the evening.
- Sports options are abundant in the resort – we found a pool, tennis court and a football pitch and the website mentions also volley-ball fields, bowling, mini golf and table tennis (and also a special activity ‘training’ which consists of a board where you can find instructions what type of exercise you should do… I found this pretty funny as you probably don’t need a special board for that, just google some work out sets and follow them).
- Every morning we were served ‘traditional Italian breakfast’ which I was very curious about. It seems that Italian breakfast is fairly simple and almost exclusively sweet – bread, butter, jam, Nutella and some biscuits were regularly on our table and you could also ask for muesli with yogurt or a piece of cake. I think there were also some croissants on the display in the bar but we didn’t have those.
- One thing I found strange was that guests were supposed to clean their apartments/bungalows and wash the dishes as well as whatever they used in the kitchen before checking out. I don’t know if this is an Italian specialty but when you book a hotel or an apartment you don’t normally do this, unless it’s an Airbnb apartment without the cleaning fee, right? What is even more strange about this rule is that the cleaning products can be bought in the shop next to the bar, instead of being freely accessible in the apartment. Even in an Airbnb flat where you’re supposed to put it back into its original state you can usually find all the necessary cleaning products right in the flat, right? Well, strange…
All in all, if you look for a simple, no frills accommodation, don’t mind staying offline, beautiful nature and seaviews are your utmost priority and you’re more after friendly staff than top modern furnishing, La Francesca is a nice place to be. If you have problems with the above, you probably won’t be as happy there.
How about you, do you have any tips for accommodation in the beautiful Cinque Terre region?