I have been lucky enough to see a preview of the new Disney Pixar movie Luca and let me tell you, it’s amazing. For someone like me who comes from that part of Italy, it was a trip back to my childhood and it definitely brought out my wanderlust for the Italian Riviera. As most tourists are more familiar with places like Cinque Terre, Portofino, and Sanremo, I thought I would put together a small list of my favorite Italian Riviera towns on that rival the most famous sites. Plus, they are not as crowded at peak season!
One of my favorite Italian Riviera towns! Although, I am a little biased. La Spezia is where I am from, so I had to put it on the list! Spezia (as the locals call it) is a major port of Italy and it’s most famous for its gorgeous waterfront, beaches, colourful houses and the fascinating naval museum. Because of its prime location, Spezia is the best city to travel to if you want to explore Liguria and Tuscany. The city is a fantastic mixture of historical buildings like Castel San Giorgio, beautiful scenery like Portovenere natural park and Palmaria island and an easy train ride away from more popular spots like the Cinque Terre if you fancy a day out.
The closest airport is Pisa and the main station is well connected to both north and south Italy so you can really make the most of your trip.
Bonassola is a neighbor to the more famous, Cinque Terre. With less than 1,000 inhabitants and a small area of 5km, it’s one of the smallest but prettiest villages you will find on the Riviera. Bonassola is perfectly located between vineyards, maritime pines, colourful Ligurian-style houses, and the gorgeous gulf with its crystal clear water. If you are looking for breath-taking views, tranquillity, and somewhere where you can let the kids run free, then this is the place for you. Bonassola is also a short train ride from the Cinque Terre and Levanto so you can make the most of your trip by taking small day trips to the surrounding areas.
Moving west from La Spezia and Bonassola, we find Santa Margherita Ligure, a real hidden gem. To be fair you get the best view of Santa Margherita whilst you are still on the road and you are driving down the hill above the city. Make sure you have your camera ready. Once you get to the town make sure to take advantage of the multitude of bars, restaurants and gelateria. Take a stroll through the picturesque streets for a spot of shopping or hit the beach to truly relax and enjoy that beautiful Italian sunshine. Santa Margherita is also a really short drive to Portofino, should you fancy a trip down Italian 50s history too.
If we keep travelling west, past Genoa, we find Varazze a popular spa destination and whale watching! Yes you have read that right! The actual first whale sanctuary is located directly in front of this particular spot of the Ligurian coast. You are sure to find plenty of boat excursions, the kids are bound to love it. Varazze might not be the most famous tourist spot in Liguria but it’s definitely worth a stop.
Last on our journey is Alassio. Located on the western Liguria, this gorgeous seaside town is famous for its soft sand, long beach, and historical center. Take a leisurely stroll to Piazza Libertà and check out the ceramic tiles with the names of the famous people who frequented Caffè Roma. The first tile ever placed was actually by Ernest Hemingway. The long beach is perfect for families as it’s not very deep and it makes it possible to walk for several meters before you no longer touch with your feet.
Liguria is a wonderful part of Italy, so wherever you end up, you are sure to have a fantastic time. Just make sure to have your fill of focaccia, pesto, and seafood along the way!
Do you have any off the beaten path Italian Riviera towns? Let us know in the comments below!
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