First trip to Tuscany
Leaving next week for 10 days. Will be staying 3 nights in Lerici for Cinque Terra explorations and 6 nights in San Giminiano. Four of us travelling together by car. Staying in b&b in SG and Doria park Hotel in Lerici.
Looking for dinner suggestions in Lerici, SG and its environs and lunch in Flroence and Siena or on the way.
I stayed in SG and found the restaurants to be good but unimaginative. While you are in Tuscany, you should visit Lucca, which is a beautiful medieval city. I have been there twice and dined both times at Buca di San Antonio. The food is delicious and interesting, and the atmosphere and service are friendly and charming. My favorite dish was fried lamb chops with fried artichokes.
We ate well in Lerici in 2003. Seafood, of course. The only restaurant whose name I remember is Due Corona.
Lerici is a good central location because of the ferries to points farther north along the Ligurian Coast (Incidentally, Lerici is in Liguria -- not Tuscany -- although I think it is the southernmost town in Liguria. If you're driving, this piece of information is irrelevent. If you're planning on traveling by train, this will loom large. Regional Italian trains tend to have limited options going across regions.)
You talk about visiting the Cinque Terre, I'd put in a plug for adding Portovenere to your list. This port town is exquisitely beautiful and is unique with its portside tower homes.
I can only assume that the influx of tourists has soured the attitude of at least one restaurant down by the port. When lunch rolled around, my husband and I cruised the row of restaurants along the port, picked one that seemed appealing and entered. We were greeted by a waiter whose first words were "We don't serve pizza for lunch. We only serve full lunches."
My husband and I were so put off by the waiter's assumptions about our buying power and/or culinary expectations that we left the restaurant. We wandered up the hill looking at the buildings and catching a charming view of a wedding party making its way to the hill top church. We ended up eating a fabulous meal at some little unpreposessing restaurant. From the banter between tables and with the owner, I know we were the only non-local. We ordered and ordered and ordered and enjoyed and enjoyed and enjoyed. I recall that we ordered one course at a time, and mostly took our cue from whatever we saw appearing on the tables around us. The portside restaurant should have been so lucky as to catch our tab for lunch that day! I couldn't possibly tell you its name other than it was located on the main uphill street that runs parallel to the coastline.
Since we did not use the ferries to go to the Cinque Terre, I can't add any informaiton on that topic. Based on our trip to Portovenere, it is easy to deal with the ferry timetables to even with minimal Italian. The only time I wished my Italian was more fluent was
in Portovenere as we looked for the correct place to wait for the ferry back to Lerici. Many ferries depart from the same spot and the crowds waiting to board may mean you may end up rather far away from the signage. Even with my minimal Italian, I was able to make myself understood and friendly people directed us to the correct spot.