I am back and ready to share more of Italy with you! After some pretty intense internet issues and being completely unable to log into WordPress I decided it was time to take a much needed break. So I’ll pick up where I left off. After staying in Milan – and our day trip to Switzerland – we enjoyed 3 incredible days along the Italian Riviera. We stayed at the town of Rapallo at the Hotel Astoria which was ideal because it’s walking distance from the train station, very close to the water, and one of the more affordable beach towns.
Our hotel staff was so kind and helpful to us, providing ferry information, restaurant recommendations, and beach towels. We stayed on the top floor, in the room with the center window. The views out or window were absolutely incredible, I won’t lie our room was freakin hot though, even with the air conditioner constantly on. It’s great to find a hotel with air conditioning, but I’ve learned that what Europeans consider AC to be and what Texans to consider AC to be are WAY off. Besides that everything was perfect though.
We experienced 5 towns along the Ligurian Sea, all were wonderful and charming in their own ways, and I’m so excited to share them with you!
I loved Rapallo, not only was the water beautiful but walking around the town was also charming. The town has a beautiful square, market, and tower where we would here the bells ring. There was a small beach area but the marina covers most of the water and we were told that made the clarity of the water not quite as good as towns farther down. So we were recommended to walk or take the ferry to the nearby towns for beaches and swimming. The towns are literally minutes apart, so walking town to town was pretty easy.
A big attraction here is the little castle on the sea, the inside is closed but it’s still really fun to walk around. There was a small beach area next to it where locals would picnic. We took it easy our first day here, exploring the town, drinking wine, and walking along the sea.
SAN MICHELE DI PAGANA
The next morning we left Rapallo and starting walking to the nearest town, which was maybe 10 minutes away. I was surprised when our hotel owners told us the water where we were at wasn’t the best quality, because it looked great to me. As we walked to the next town I understood what they meant though. The water turned from beautiful to crystal clear perfection, and it only got more incredible the farther we walked.
Here in San Michele di Pagana we took our first dip in the Ligurian Sea, and in fact our first dip into any kind of beach without sand. The rocks did hurt our feet a little, but then again I seriously hate sand so I was happy. By the end of the day we had learned to walk in a way that hurt a little less, water shoes would of been ideal though.
Here we rented beach chairs, swam, and I had fun playing with the pebbles in the water. I collected a few of my favorite pebbles to take home, the dark gray ones with the white stripes and swirls were my favorite. There are both free public water access as well as private, and there are plenty to choose from. After a quick bite we continued to the next town.
SANTA MARGHERITA LIGURE
After a swim at our pebble beach we continued up the long hill into the town of Santa Margherita Ligure. I loved it here and found the perfect swim spot, which also means I took the least amount of photos here. Isn’t that the way it always goes? More fun = less photos. After walking here from San Michele we were really hot again and decided to go for another swim. I loved the concrete ledge that made getting in and out of the water easy, also the rocks hurt our feet less here. We swam out pretty far and there was so much activity around us. Huge boats were coming in to dock and the locals were having fun jumping off the rocks.
After our long day of walking from Rapallo, San Michele di Pagana, and Santa Margherita Ligure we took the ferry back to Rapallo where we showered and went out for dinner. We planned on hitting more beach towns the next day.
Portofino was the next town after Santa Margherita Ligure, but instead of walking we took the ferry. Here definitely had more of a glamorous wealthy vibe, yet it was still a down to earth place. Here you’ll see massive yachts and high-end stores such as Dior and Louis Vuitton. The water is so clear we saw huge fish swimming around in between the boats which is really fun to watch. We ended up taking stairs up to a cliff overlooking the water and the views are breathtaking! Up here is also a castle you can explore inside and out, called Castello Brown.
There are tons of amazing waterside restaurants, and it was here after being in italy for nearly a week that I gave in and finally ate pasta! The owner sold me on his fresh lobster tagliatelle pasta and every calorie was worth it. The fresh tomatoes in Italy are unlike anything I have ever tasted in America.
After Portofino the ferry continues to San Fruttuoso. The water here is absolutely unreal, it looks fake in these photos but I can promise you that’s exactly how it looked. We didn’t swim here but that’s ok, we sat along the beach and later on dinned cliffside overlooking the water. The town is really small, with tunnels and restaurants that go through the cliffs. There is a small abbey you can explore and several bars and restaurants, whether there is more than that to the town I am unsure, but it this little area was small, quirky, and perfect in every way.
It seems like in Italy I was always in search of a good breeze and this little picturesque restaurant had the best one of all, I even had goosebumps at one point. We must have sat at this cliffside restaurant for hours sipping prosecco and eating mussles. San Fruttuoso is small and has no hotels, and even though it had lots of people it still felt cozy, private, and small. Dining at this restaurant was probably my favorite thing out of the entire trip.
Isn’t the Ligurian Sea incredible? I was just so sad to leave it! Any of these towns would make a perfect trip, but I recommend all of them. After we left Rapallo, we hopped back on a train and rode north to Lake Como, which I have yet to organize those photos. Italy’s beauty is just unreal. Ciao darlings!