One of our most favourite parts of Italy is the Ligurian Coast, which they call the Italian Riviera. It’s a truly breathtaking coast with its enchanting, characteristic seaside villages. Each different from the other. We have found the little town of Sestri Levante the best place to base ourselves for seeing the surrounding areas.
From the seafront, you can catch the ferries to Santa Margharita/Portofino/San Fruttuoso, Cinque Terre and other Ligurian locations.
A short ferry ride or one train stop away is fashionable Santa Margherita Ligure. Like Rapallo, this old fishing ports bay is lined with palm trees and stunning architecture – hotels, churches and palatial homes built for the elite. These buildings are absolutely gorgeous and we spent some time just sitting on a bench looking at them taking in the exquisite decoration, gargoyles and figurines so painstakingly created and so carefully preserved.
The town has some good shopping options, lovely restaurants and interesting sights like its 16th-century castle and the 17th-century Basilica di Santa Margherita.
There is a nice trail between Santa Margherita and Portofino if you are feeling fit.
Portofino is another short ferry ride away from San Margherita. It’s very beautiful, quite small (you can walk around the entire place in less than an hour) and seriously expensive. Louis Vuitton, Dior and Gucci all have outlets here. The boat was absolutely packed with tourists the day we went over. This is a place we heard plenty of British voices. If you wander around the backstreets you see little artisan workshops where the town’s women work elegant patterns of bobbin lace.
From the boat, you can view the jagged-edge coasts and enormous cliffs that go on for miles.