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The Italian Riviera beyond the Cinque Terre

There is so much more to Liguria beyond just the Cinque Terre. Dont get me wrong, we love Riomaggiore, but we also fell in love with Dolceacqua, Apricale, Busana Vecchia, Sanremo, Santa Marghertia and on our recent trip this summer (2019) to Camogli, Finale Ligure, and Noli. If you've visited the Cinque Terre you know it's busy, and everyone speaks English. It's not quite the same for the villages I just mentioned. If this doesn't bother you I strongly recommend these beautiful areas.

In particular we loved Camogli. Just a one hour train ride past Monterosso. It is a beachfront town with many good restaurants and a great beach for swimming. There is not much to do here but relax, swim and eat. Rent an umbrella and lounge chairs and enjoy the water that never seems cold. This area is the home of foccatia, troffie pasta, and pesto. Great seafood here. We particularly enjoyed eating at O'Magazin (the BEST!), Pasta Fiorella, Paticceria Focacceria, and Primula Bar Boccacondivino. Farther north is the tiny beachfront village of Noli. Not so tiny that there is nothing to do. The town sports a castle on the hill, and at least 3 medieval towers. Again, the food is great, and swimming is excellent. The village is big enough that you can spend quite awhile exploring the narrow lanes. Our favorite restaurants here were the beachfront Vittoria, L'Alice Inamorata (the BEST carbonara I've ever had), Ponte Antica (ate there twice) and Pappus with the best gelato north of Roma.

While we didn't stay in nearby Finale Ligure, it's a much larger town, but with great shopping. We enjoyed eating at Osteria Grotesque, who's food is nothing like it's name. Very good. BTW, dont ask for an after dinner disgestif. We did, and they brought us 5 bottles of different liquers! We tried them all (hiccup!).

These towns are not as overwelmed as the Cinque Terre. In the summer their tourists are mainly Italians. We felt at times like the only Americans here. Buon Viaggio!

Posted by
62 posts

We are considering going to Liguria next summer but will not return to the Cinque Terra after having enjoyed it in the late 90's and early 2000's when it was still a very relaxed and peaceful scene. Im afraid it's been overrun and hit particularly hard by the cruise industry. Anyway ...I enjoyed reading your post! We are considering driving down to Liguria from Northern Italy. Camogli has been recommended before. We think it sounds great. What were the day time crowds like here? Will parking a car be a big headache? Do you have any recommendations on places to stay??

Posted by
927 posts

We were in Liguria in May. We stayed in Santa Margherita and LOVED it. We didn’t even bother going to CT. We went to Camogli (and had the BEST Zuppe de pesce of my life!) for a day trip and really loved it, but we were glad that we stayed in Santa Margherita because there was more to do.

Posted by
236 posts

Thanks for the report. At the moment, all the names you threw out there mean nothing to me - I'm getting ready for my FIRST trip to Italy. We are planning to go from Rome to Nice by way of the coast, so Cinque Terre was one of our planned stops along the way. The friend in Nice we are going to visit said something about Ventimiglia. I take it that is a border town? Any reason to stop there, or is so close to Nice we might as well just bypass it?

I'm going to jot down all the place you mentioned, thanks!

Posted by
6603 posts

We have stayed in most of these places and agree with you about the wonderful time you can have visiting them. I would also add Portovenere ,to the south of the Cinque Terre.
In Noli we stayed at Palazzo Vescovile up the hill, the former Bisphop’s Palace. And a highlight was dining outside overlooking the sea at the hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant, Ristorante Vescovado. Superb in every way.

Posted by
296 posts

lisalu910...
A few years ago my wife & I flew into Nice and traveled into Italy along the Ligurian Coast. One of the things you may want to check on when deciding a route into Nice is which one of the roads through Monaco you want to drive through. There's the upper road (amazing views) the middle road, and the lower road that goes directly through Monte Carlo and has very heavy traffic. The touristy but beatuiful village of Eze is along the way and is worth checking out if you have time.

Ventimiglia is a big city. We shopped there, but it's probably not worth a daytrip. Just outside of Ventimiglia are the beautiful Italian villages of Dolceacqua and nearby Apricale. We stayed in Apricale. It is very rustic, undiscovered by American tourists (some French tourists though). Either village is a good base to explore that area. Sanremo is a big coastal city, and has a greeat medieval oldtown. Nearby from that is the abandoned village of Busana Vecchia, which was destroyed in the 1800's by an earthquake but now has a thriving hippie/artist community. The road is really bad, but worth a visit, if you can find it.

We loved this area of the French/Italian Riviera.

Posted by
296 posts

We LOVE Portovenere! What a beautiful village!

We daytripped to Santa Margherita and had a wonderful lunch there. Didnt devote enough time to it though. A village we've yet to visit, that just looks amazing is Sestri Levante. That'll be for a future trip I guess.

Posted by
62 posts

Hi Ray.... enjoy your reports from Liguria ... we want to stay in Camogli this summer.. Dontlu have any recommendations for lodging in town?

Thanks for your help!

Posted by
296 posts

Jeff...We rented an apartment on Airbnb listed as "La Casa Sul Mare in Passagiare" from owner Bruno. While the place was small, no AC, expensive, and really nothing special, you couldnt argue with the million dollar view. The balcony overlooks the sea and the waterfront beach area. Bruno was very nice though, and the people of Camogli are great. Search for it on Airbnb and take a look. Have a great trip!

Posted by
55 posts

Thanks for the report! I'm planning to visit this area this summer and appreciate your summary of the different towns. It will be quite helpful as I plan my itinerary. Sounds like you had a lovely trip.