Porto Venere by night

My WWII espionage novel Crucible of Deceit sends the protagonist on a treacherous wartime mission through Vichy France and fascist Italy. Off-the-beaten-path locales featured in this latest Corridor of Darkness novel are well worth a visit, so here are a few of my favorites.


Porto Venere by day

While most American tourists now flock directly to the over-burdened five towns of the Cinque Terre on the Ligurian Coast, far fewer make it to this delightful spot. You can easily reach it via La Spezia, itself a very pretty city known for its naval arsenal. Tiny Porto Venere has all the charm of a stay on the Cinque Terre without the unwieldy tourist crowds: a charming and narrow main street, a restored medieval fortress with walkways and embrasures, a boat-filled marina, a nice choice of accommodations, and many stunning views of the azure waters of the Mediterranean. And you can always daytrip up the coast to visit the “Five Lands” to rub shoulders with other tourists.

Porto Venere main street


After breakfast in Porto Venere, head west along the Ligurian Coast to the often-overlooked little town of Sestri Levante. Hidden beyond the main pedestrian path lies the “Bay of Silence” dotted with sailboats, and a nice beach for sunbathing. Enjoy a meal and great service at Ristorante Polpo Mario. We’ve been back several times for the gnocchi!


This well-known spot isn’t hidden; it just seems like it as you wind your way there. If you wish to see famous Portofino, spend a little time in Santa Margherita Ligure, as well. You won’t regret it.




Then stop in Camogli on your way toward Genoa. This little town by the sea is one of my favorites, but as readers of Crucible of Deceit know, it’s perhaps not the most inviting spot for a spy.

Camogli harbor


View from Château Eza

You will likely want to see Menton along the way, but many other lovely towns and villages along the Côte d’Azur on the French Riviera will vie for your attention. I highly recommend the ancient hill town of Èze-Village. At the summit sits 400-year-old Château Eza, once winter home for Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (where Ryan and his charges find refuge), and now a classy hotel with an unmatched view of the sea far below and the inviting city of Nice in the distance.

Château Eza
Looking down toward Èze-sur-Mer


Saving one of the best for last, head to this remarkable town on Lake Annecy. With stunning peaks overlooking a glistening alpine lake and one of the most charming villages of France, this area of France will win you over. Amble along the Thiou River as it flows through the town. The town’s welcome will certainly be warmer than the wintertime challenges encountered here by Ryan Lemmon.

The Thiou River
Lake Annecy viewed from Talloires


In case you missed the hints, the fifth novel in the Corridor of Darkness series is now available. Crucible of Deceit can be found at


About Patrick W. O'Bryon

Writer. Traveler. Europhile, especially Italy and France. Hobbies: rescuing animals from abuse, abandonment and mistreatment, and being sous chef around the kitchen to my chef de cuisine wife.
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