Italy’s Riviera is more than just the stunning Cinque Terre. While the world remains enamored by its five cliffside villages, the Italian Riviera stretches beyond, offering hidden gems waiting to be explored. As the owner of a renowned Italian tour operator, I’ve been fortunate enough to uncover the Riviera’s best-kept secrets over the years. Here’s a glimpse into six of those wonders that promise a touch of the authentic, away from the regular tourist trails.
1. Camogli: The Fishermen’s Pride
Camogli, a lesser-known neighbor to the famous Portofino, boasts a mesmerizing coastline dotted with colorful houses. The town owes its name to “Casa delle Mogli” or “House of Wives,” referencing the wives who’d watch over the sea, waiting for their fishermen husbands. Stroll down its seafront, taste the local focaccia, and soak in its authenticity.
2. San Fruttuoso Abbey: Where History Meets the Sea
Tucked between Camogli and Portofino, this abbey is accessible only by foot or boat. It’s a tranquil spot with a historic abbey, a pristine beach, and the Christ of the Abyss – an underwater bronze statue. Imagine organizing a spectacular corporate event in such a setting. Indeed, finding offbeat venues for memorable corporate events is something we cherish at Italiaplus.
3. Noli: A Medieval Coastal Wonder
One of the oldest republics in Italy, Noli is adorned with medieval towers and walls. The town’s historic significance combined with its seaside allure makes it a perfect place for history buffs and beach lovers alike.
4. Finalborgo: A Journey Back in Time
Located a short distance inland, Finalborgo is a medieval walled town, untouched by time. As you walk through its cobbled streets, you’ll be transported back to the medieval ages, with its palaces, fortress ruins, and the charm of yesteryears.
5. Boccadasse: Genoa’s Hidden Corner
A small fishing village within Genoa, Boccadasse is a picturesque enclave with its pebble beach, pastel houses, and old-world charm. Enjoy a gelato by the sea, or simply watch the world go by in this serene nook.
6. Varigotti: The Moorish Beauty
With its distinct Moorish architecture, Varigotti is unlike any other place in the Italian Riviera. Its Saracen-styled homes, turquoise waters, and the Baia dei Saraceni make it a unique spot for those seeking something a tad different.
While Cinque Terre will always be close to my heart, the Italian Riviera’s diversity offers so much more to the discerning traveler. By exploring its lesser-known treasures, one gets a taste of Italy that’s both authentic and personal. So the next time you’re planning a trip, or perhaps a memorable corporate event, consider venturing beyond the known. Italy, in all its diversity, promises an experience that stays with you long after you’ve left its shores.
The Essence of Ligurian Culture
Every town and village along the Italian Riviera has its own unique customs and festivals that give travelers a deep insight into the local way of life. Ligurian culture is a melange of ancient traditions, fascinating folklore, and delightful culinary secrets. For instance, the celebration of San Giovanni Battista in Camogli is a sight to behold, where large bonfires light up the night sky in June. This mix of age-old customs with modern celebrations provides a profound understanding of how the Riviera has evolved while retaining its core values.
Eco-Friendly Travel in the Riviera
The Italian Riviera is increasingly focusing on sustainable tourism, understanding the need to preserve its pristine landscapes and rich heritage for future generations. Towns like Portofino have initiatives where boat trips are designed to have minimal impact on the marine ecosystem. Travelers can also choose to trek or bike through the scenic routes, ensuring their carbon footprint is reduced. Opting for local produce and supporting small businesses further aids in sustaining the region’s economy and ecological balance.
A Riviera for All Seasons
While most travelers flock to the Italian Riviera during summer, each season here offers a unique charm. Autumn paints the landscape in hues of gold and amber, perfect for wine tasting and truffle hunting. Winter, albeit quieter, offers the allure of festive markets, cozy coastal cafes, and fewer crowds. Spring is a burst of colors, with flowers blooming and local festivals marking the rebirth of nature. Every season provides a different lens to experience the Riviera, making it a year-round destination.