When you hear the word Riviera, most people automatically think of the French Riviera. However, just across the border, the Italian Riviera awaits. Located in Liguria in the northwestern part of Italy, this picturesque coastline has been popular amongst artists and celebrities since the 1800s. The rugged landscape has something for every type of traveler, including hiking trails, shops, boat tours, and beaches. With over 50 towns located along the coast, it can be hard to choose exactly where you should go. Here is a list of the most stunning to help you decide.
Listed amongst the most beautiful villages in Italy, Tellaro is a maze of beautiful pathways and charming buildings. The main attraction for this local secret is the beach, but there is plenty to see in town as well. Tellaro is the perfect spot for a quiet coastal escape.
Tucked away in the Gulf of Poets, Portovenere was once a favorite vacation spot for literary greats like Lord Bryon and Percy Shelly. Visitors enter through the ancient city gates, which leads to the Via Capellini, where all the best restaurants are found. They can then make their way to the Castello Doria or visit San Pietro Church.
Located at the southern end of the Cinque Terre area, Riomaggiore has been around since the 8th-century when locals from the Vara Valley came to plant grapevines and olive trees. Tourists can visit the Church of San Lorenzo or the Castle of Riomaggiore during their stay. They can also hike to other villages in the area along the Via dell’Amore trail.
This small fishing village, known as the City of a Thousand Sails, is the perfect spot to escape the crowds and soak in the local lifestyle. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the scenic 900 step climb to the Church of San Rocco perched on the edge of the coast. From there, hikers should travel to Punta Chiappa, home to a favorite scuba diving spot, the Grotta dei Gamberi.
5. Monterosso al Mare
The biggest village in the Cinque Terre area, Monterosso al Mare is the ideal spot for family travelers. It is easy to navigate, and their long stretch of beach has plenty of hotels, restaurants, and shops all nearby. Tourists should make time to take in the views from San Cristoforo Hill and visit Il Gigante, a statue of Neptune holding up the terrace of a seaside villa.
Home to Christopher Columbus and pesto, Genoa is a bustling city filled with stunning architecture and rich history. The Palazzi dei Rolli is made up of 42 palaces where the rich and power used to live during the port’s peak. Visitors can also explore the 17-century Palazzo Reale, the former residence of the Royal Family of Savoy.
Once upon a time, Portofino was a small unknown fishing hamlet. Now, it’s a luxury vacation destination with glamorous hotels and top of the line dining. In the harbor, tourists will see a mixture of fishing boats and yachts dotting the shoreline. Make sure to take a walk down to Portofino’s lighthouse before catching a boat to the 10th-century San Fruttuoso Abbey nearby.
The face of the Cinque Terre area, Vernazza is a colorful coast getaway surrounded by vineyards. This is another great hiking location, especially to get the best views of the village. However, for those looking for a more low key vacation, the local beach is an excellent spot to spend the day. There is also plenty of shops and wine tasting to enjoy.
Ventimiglia, located on the Riviera of Flowers, is divided by the Roia River, which runs right through the middle. Visitors should explore the boardwalk and the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta during their stay. For those who come in June, they may be lucky enough to be a part of the Battaglia dei Fiori festival celebrating the local flowers.
A popular spot with Italian locals, Lerici has all the beauty of the Portofino without the crowds. Known as The Pearl of The Gulf, Frankenstein author Mary Shelly and her husband used to call this village home. As the village is still a hidden gem, travelers should be well versed in their Italian phrases if they plan to vacation here. English speakers will be hard to come by.