one can still find the remnant of a Roman bath, an aqueduct, a Roman
burial ground, and the ruins of a second century amphitheater.
While undoubtedly the wilder and more rugged of
the two sections, the Riviera di Levante, located east of Genoa,
nevertheless is home to two of the region's most classic and elegant
towns — the breathtakingly lovely and exclusive Portofino
and the large and stylish Rapallo with its numerous modern and high-quality
A ferry-ride away from Portofino and situated
close to the elegant city of Rapallo lies Santa Margherita Ligure,
one of the main resorts in the Italian Riviera well known for its
crowded beaches, fast-food stalls, Edwardian-style homes and traffic
at every turn. Though busy during the summer months, this resort
is hardly visited during the winter months and thus is closed down.
Other prominent towns situated in the eastern
part of the Italian Riviera include Chiavari, formerly the hub of
the eastern Riviera that is now one of the favourite international
destinations of well-known personalities.
The village of Lavagna got its name from the slate
rock 'lavagna' that formed in this area at the same time the Alps
was formed 70 million years ago. Founded during the 10th century,
this village was able to develop itself via earnings obtained from
exporting its slate. Now, the village of Lavagna is one of the busiest
tourist ports in Italy, inviting visits from boaters and other tourists
interested to enjoy the excitement and warmth of Lavagna's beaches
Another village, Levanto, is separated from the
Cinque Terre by the Mesco promontory. A typical maritime village,
Levanto is stands facing the sea and yet is surrounded by lush scrub
and green hills. Like Lavagna, Levanto is now popular among tourists
for its warm and sunny beaches and rocky coast.
Finally, from Levanto, one reaches Cinque Terre,
the region of Five Lands as it has been known since the 15th century.
Now fast becoming the most popular and most frequently visited by
tourists among the towns in the Italian Riviera east of Genoa, the
Cinque Terre is made up of five tiny villages — the Corniglia,
Manarola, Monterossa al Mare, Riomaggiore, and Vernazza —
all perched on the mountainside above the Mediterranean Sea. These
tiny villages, which are accessible mainly by foot or train, are
recognisable by the colourful houses that dot their landscape and
the various historical remnants of the Roman times.
The Cinque Terre is known for its least crowded
beaches, charming village squares, spectacular views, and the beautiful
18km stretch along the Mediterranean between Levanto and Portovenere.
Popular among backpacking tourists, the best way to appreciate the
beauty of this region and the five tiny villages is to travel on
foot. From east to west, each village possesses a charm and personality
all its own. Awash with bright colors, the Cliffside setting of
these villages are overwhelmingly beautiful and extremely romantic.
Although by train, the total distance between
these villages is only 9 kilometers, by trail, on foot, it takes
around 30 minutes to go from Manarola to Riomaggiore.
Hiking in Cinque Terre is divine and can take
anywhere from 30 minutes to many hours when the trek is from Vernazza
to Monterosso al Mare and vice-versa. A scenic and winding walking
path that wraps around the mountains links all these five tiny villages
together. The beauty of the paths makes the hike extremely gratifying.
Despite the distance, the experience is exhilarating.
Accommodations in the Cinque Terre are quite limited
though. The best thing to do would be to make one of the five villages
your base or, better still, to just enjoy the world-class comforts
of the exquisitely elegant hotels in the more developed parts of
the Riviera and then come back to this region by train. The whole
length of the Riviera is accessible by train.
Whatever your choice may be, driving, sailing
or taking a train through the coastline of the Italian Riviera is
like stepping back in history to a time when the world was more
tranquil and beautiful, where no one rushed around or hurried about,
when the world was simply one colourful paradise.