Liguria

Ride the rails all the way to Cinque Terre

First prize for unpublished writers in last year’s Independent on Sunday/Bradt travel writing competition was a trip to Liguria – and the chance to write about it for The Independent online. Here, winner Debbie Parrott recalls her overland adventure to Italy

Trail of the Unexpected: La dolce vita lives and lunches at the Hotel

The best travel tip I ever had came from my late father. If you don't have the money to stay in a smart hotel, he said, then stay somewhere cheap but try to muster enough for lunch in the posh place. Then you can legitimately arrive early, linger all afternoon, and feel as though you're part of the beau monde. After all, who needs a cavernous bedroom with swags on the tails and tails on the swags? All you need is a bed. But every holiday should have a long, lazy lunch in fabulous surroundings, then an hour or two by a sparkling pool, ideally with waiters providing small chilled aerosols of mist to stop you overheating. If you can afford to stay the night, so much the better. If you can't, you've still had a five-star experience.

48 hours in: Genoa

Pesto, piazzas and palaces are among the highlights of Italy's principal port. And spring is the best time to enjoy them in splendid isolation, says Harriet O'Brien

City slicker: A guide to Genoa

A new film is about to put this Italian port in the spotlight. Sarah Barrell offers a guide to the essential sights for new, and returning, visitors