La Sosta di Ottone III

Near the Cinque Terre, Liguria, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Abi Dare
A 6-room hideaway with soaring views and gourmet food, perched high above the Cinque Terre in an authentic Ligurian village
The drive to the tiny hamlet of Chiesanuova is quite an adventure. Leaving the motorway, you corkscrew down a plunging hillside, cross a river and then start to climb again, twisting ever higher while praying you don’t meet a bus coming in the opposite direction. But take a deep breath and persevere: what awaits at the top is well worth the jangled nerves.

Occupying one of Chiesanuova’s ancient stone houses, La Sosta di Ottone III (so-called because Holy Roman Emperor Otto III stayed here en route to his coronation in 996) is an intimate hideaway that combines homely charm with plenty of gastronomic flair. The 6 bedrooms, all with beamed ceilings and shuttered windows, gaze out over terracotta rooftops and forested hills to the endless blue sea far below. Downstairs, chef and sommelier Mary serves up delicious Ligurian specialities made from the freshest local ingredients, while butterflies flit among the vines on the terrace outside. The famed Cinque Terre - a Unesco-listed string of colourful villages clinging precariously to the cliffs - lie just along the coast, and smiling owners Angela and Fabio will point you in the direction of hiking paths, beaches, vineyards and more.

Highs

  • An excellent base for exploring the Cinque Terre, yet removed from the crowds which clog the villages in summer
  • Soaring sea views from the terrace and all 4 bedrooms; sunsets here are magical
  • Top-notch food based on authentic local recipes, plus a vast selection of unusual wines. Cooking classes and olive-oil tastings can be arranged, too
  • A pretty little garden where you can sit back among the flowers and wallow in total serenity
  • Friendly staff who are passionate about this beautiful corner of Italy; they'll happily share insider tips and plan bespoke day trips

Lows

  • You’ll have to walk the last 50m stretch to Chiesanuova (it’s only accessible by footpath), but there are designated parking spaces on the nearby road
  • The church bells opposite clang on the hour, every hour, from early morning until late evening
  • Don’t expect 24-hour reception; let staff know in advance if you plan to arrive later than 6pm
  • It's pricey, and rates don't include breakfast, but it's worth the splurge
  • Mary has taken over from former chef Luca since our last visit, but we're assured the food remains as good as ever

Best time to go

La Sosta di Ottone III is open from April to October. Spring and autumn are particularly beautiful, with balmy days, wildflowers, and temperatures that are ideal for hiking along the coastal paths. The Cinque Terre are inundated with tourists in July and August, but Chiesanouva makes a quiet base to retreat to at the end of the day.

Our top tips

Head to Vernazza (our favourite of the Cinque Terre) and climb the steps which twist up the cliff from the harbour. Part way up you’ll find Ristorante Belforte and its sea-view terrace - a wonderful spot to linger over mounds of pasta. Afterwards, stroll around the village and admire its lemon- and rose-coloured houses - it sits at the mouth of a ravine and was destroyed by flooding in 2011, but it’s been beautifully restored.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 6
  • Bar and restaurant (open Mon-Sat)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 2 Dec 2016 - 6 Apr 2017
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Adelaide

Rooms

The 6 rooms, named after members of Otto III’s family, have a charming mix of antiques and homely comforts. Expect squishy chairs, wooden desks and carved beds beneath gnarled 17th-century beams, plus shuttered windows that open onto a slice of that wonderful view. Many have sofas that can be converted into 2 extra beds.

Ottone III and Adelaide are both painted in a delicate duck-egg blue; the latter can become a twin on request. Teofano is a 2-room suite decked out in spring-like pinks and greens, with a double bed and a sitting room that can be made up as an additional bedroom. We stayed in Silvestro II, a cosy space in sunshine yellow, with an armchair gazing out at the distant sea. The other 2 rooms have been added since our last visit. Created by interior designer Alberto Ratti, they have a stylish, more minimal take on rustic charm, with contemporary lighting, curtained wardrobes and whitewashed walls.

All rooms have snazzy ensuites, some with grey marble tiles and bathtubs, others with walk-in showers; Teofano’s is clad is colourful mosaics. You also get all manner of teas and coffees to brew, and piles of books to browse.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Dinner, served in the intimate stone-walled restaurant or under a vine-tangled pergola outside, is a real treat. Mary (who trained with renowned former chef Luca) is passionate about Ligurian food, taking inspiration from the changing seasons to produce creative twists on local specialities. You get the choice between à la carte and a 5-course tasting menu, and everything we sampled was mouth-wateringly good - a fondue-like mix of spinach and pecorino, spaghetti with the freshest of clams, a silky-smooth panna cotta doused in chocolate. Mary is also extremely knowledgeable about all things wine-related and will recommend the perfect pairing for each course, as well as serving up an aperitivo to savour before your meal (on the house if you book through i-escape).

Breakfast is another spread of local delights - organic cheeses, cured hams, still-warm focaccia, jam and marmalade, and a freshly baked ‘cake of the day’. It’s best eaten outside so you can linger over the view.

Lunch isn’t served, though chances are you’ll be out and about anyway. Bear in mind that Sunday is Mary's night off, but picnics (savoury pies, salami, fresh fruit) can be ordered to enjoy in your room or on the terrace.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore, the 5 pastel-coloured harbour villages which make up the Cinque Terre. Cars aren’t allowed into their centres, but they’re linked by footpath and train so you can easily hop between them
  • Staff can recommend a variety of hikes along the area’s stunning coastal trails, taking in olive groves, crumbling hamlets and beautiful churches
  • Alternatively, drive down to nearby Levanto and catch the little ferry which pootles from village to village – it’s a great way to admire the plunging coastline and rocky coves. Angela and Fabio can organise private boats, too
  • There’s a sandy beach at Levanto, along with surf schools and an outdoor pool
  • Book a session of ‘dry-stone-wall watching’ - much more interesting than it sounds! Local guide Silvia Mertens will explain the history of the area’s Unesco-listed vineyards, which are formed from dry-stone-walled terraces carved into the steep hillsides, before you sit down to sample some of their wares
  • Olive-oil tastings and jam-making sessions can also be arranged

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Despite the tranquil atmosphere, children are warmly welcomed. Four of the 6 rooms can accommodate additional guests, and Mary is happy to tailor meals. That said, the stone steps, steep drops and bumpy path to the village mean it’s not best-suited to roaming toddlers or babies in pushchairs.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Ottone III, Adelaide and Gregorio all have sofas which can convert into 2 extra beds for children; Adelaide and Gregorio can be made up as twins on request, and Gregorio can interconnect with double room Zoe. Teofano has a living room which can be made up as an additional single or twin bedroom. Baby cots are available, too.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1.5 hours
Kid Friendly: Teofano

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for La Sosta di Ottone III