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I am fortunate to have a fun job that takes me to beautiful places. Even more so, I am especially fortunate to have great friends in all kinds of interesting locations. Even if I’ve been somewhere like the Cinque Terre a bizillion times, I find new ways to enjoy and explore a place through those friends.

You may remember that I had an Italian in my basement this past winter, the lively Giuditta. I was in Monterosso recently, one of the villages of the Cinque Terre, where she lives and got a chance to visit with her and her family. They own a hotel nearby and a great restaurant called “Il Piccolo Diavolo”, which is a reference to a movie character Giudi is named for.

My birthday was in late June while I was there, but Giudi couldn’t come celebrate because the restaurant has been so busy. As a belated present, she took me out the other day. She wanted to show me how the locals go swimming….by private boat.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve done just about everything in the Cinque Terre. I’ve hiked, gone to the beach, taken trains and boats, checked out churches and wineries. I’ve worked on the guidebook there before and have looked at most of the hotels and restaurants. Never before, though, have I ever taken a private boat to wherever I wanted for some swimming. It’s never even occurred to me. This was a new adventure. You know how I feel about adventures (WHEE!!!)

I met Giudi at the boat dock in Monterosso, she’d brought Prosecco and focaccia for a sunset aperativo. We got in the little motorboat and were whisked away down the coast. We passed all five towns, and I wondered what the destination was. She didn’t say. Eventually, the driver, Andrea, pulled over in a small cove just south of Riomaggiore. There were a couple of boats anchored there but not a soul around otherwise.

We jumped into the warm water of the Mediterranean, and while I imagine us a two sleek and sexy divers elegantly slipping into the waves, I think we were more like seals flopping with a splash into the water. The water was silky and fine, with cool undercurrents. Did you know that the Mediterranean is really, really salty? Did you know that makes you float really easily? As I’m not exactly a skinny girl, I enjoyed floating along, bobbing like a cork. So very relaxing!

I had been swimming all day out in the waters just off the beach of Monterosso. It was hot and crowded and the water, when looked at from a certain angle, had a sheen of oil that could only be washed-off sunblock from the hoardes of sun worshippers. Ick. However, down in the little cove there was nothing but clean and clear water as far as you could see. I could see my toes and the rocks far below.

We swam like mermaids, diving down and back up again, with absolutely nobody around. As the sun set, we got back in the boat and opened the Prosecco. We ate focaccia and occasionally tossed pieces in the water. The fish were practically jumping out of the water to eat it, I could have grabbed one with my bare hands.

The driver took a slow cruise back towards Monterosso, stopping out in open water for a gorgeous sunset view. I couldn’t help myself, I jumped in the water again. As soon as I did, I heard the driver mumble that he doesn’t like swimming out there…too many sharks. Oops. Back in the boat.

After more Prosecco and fine conversation, the driver headed in. I sat in the back in my swimsuit, wind whipping through my hair and a glorious sunset on the horizon. It was like something out of a movie. Queen of the world! We had been gone for almost three hours but it seemed like minutes.

We finished our night at a hidden bar on a cliff high above Monterosso, chatting with locals and munching on fresh fruit. As I sat there I marveled over how, even in a place you’ve been many times, there is always more adventure to experience. Can’t wait to share this particular one with my little son next month.

Want to give it a try next time you’re in the Cinque Terre? Contact Andrea at Tiburon Boat Tours-

AWS Staff

This post was published by the Adventures with Sarah team. Click here to find out more about the people that make everything at AWS happen.


  • Wanda says:

    Those are the perfect moments in time on vacation!

  • Karen says:

    This absolutely transported me. I remember taking a ferry from Salerno to Positano some years back and I loved being on the sea, the warm sun on my skin, wind whipping through my hair, gorgeous views…it was heaven. Would love to have an experience like this, though. And I wondered about swimming away from shore because of sharks, so it’s interesting that, yes, there might be a limit to how far to go out. Gotta have a local who knows. I’ll remember that. Lovely post!

  • Melva O'Connor-Rafuse says:

    such an adventure Sarah…I was in the Cinque#5 a few years ago and took the ferry boat with my friend Helene from Marseille…we absolutely loved the vantage from the water and now I read of your swimming adventure…. I will definitely look at the tour your mentioned when I visit in 2017… 3 cheers and Happy late birthday…I too share a late June birthday!!

  • Nancy Bene says:

    Wow! What great timing. We will spend 5 days in the Cinque Terra the first week of October and I am planning it right now! Thanks.

  • Tom A. says:

    I am envious, Sarah! I’ve never been to Italy but it’s next on my European travel wish list. Maybe a Rick Steves tour, maybe not…but I hope to visit Italy in the next couple of years. Thank you for such enticing and enjoyable details about your recent fun there.

  • Rhonda M says:

    Great story! Would love a private boat outing when we are there in October – how does one find someone like Guido?

    • says:

      I think the website was at the bottom of the post. If not, let me know and I’ll text my friend for his number.

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