4 Top Italian Riviera Destinations You Might Not Know About But Should

4 Top Italian Riviera Destinations You Might Not Know About But Should

[For the latest information on requirements for leisure travel in Italy, go to Ministero della Salute.] When seeking out new destinations in Italy, you often don’t have to go far to find them. Even as popular an area as the Italian Riviera has a good choice of intriguing villages and towns that many well-traveled visitors have yet to discover. Here are four coastal havens you might not know about but should consider for your next trip to the region; three are designated among the most beautiful villages in Italy (I Borghi Più Belli D’Italia): Noli, Cervo and Tellaro.

NOLI

In a country where many destinations have unique histories, Noli stands out. This small town was once a maritime republic, like Venice, Pisa, and Genoa, and managed to retain its independence far longer than some better-known rivals, enduring from the 12th century until it succumbed to Napoleonic forces in 1797. The great poet Dante, who likely visited here in the early 1300s, added to Noli’s renown, immortalizing it in his Divina Commedia. Among the attractions are the well-preserved historic center and the Castello di Monte Ursino, a fortified complex built over hundreds of years, beginning in the 10th century. From its vantage point, the castle served to warn of impending coastal invaders; today, more peacefully, it allows for sweeping seaside views. If you’re coming to Noli for the beach, you’ve picked a good one, as it has Bandiera Blu status (certifying water quality and that certain environmental standards have been met). The Spiaggia dei Pescatori with a sand and pebble texture is easily accessible from the village. Along the coast there are both public and private beach areas.

CERVO

The village of Cervo lies on a stretch of Ligurian seaside called the Riviera dei Fiori, a part of the western Italian Riviera that reaches to the French border and is known for its abundance of flowers. When viewed from the sea, this small village—there are roughly 1200 inhabitants—appears to float on the water. In Cervo travelers have an evocative hilltop village to explore, at the base of which lies a pebbly beach, ideal for a late afternoon stroll. Among the sites to visit are the 13th-century Clavesana castle, once the domain of a local marquess, and now the home to a museum devoted to local culture, and the exquisitely baroque St. John the Baptist Church. Cervo hosts the annual International Festival of Chamber Music, with concerts held in the Piazza dei Corallini, this year scheduled from July 2 to August 27. San Bartolomeo al Mare is a popular nearby seaside destination.

NERVI

Since the 1600s Genoa’s aristocrats and merchants have escaped to this seaside haven located on the Golfo Paradiso, a sparkling expanse of the Riviera coastline that includes such famous destinations as Portofino and San Fruttuoso. A former fishing settlement and now a suburb of Genoa, Nervi is home to four important museums and a number of historic villas. You’ll find the Galleria d’Arte Moderna with works from the late 1800s to the present in the Villa Saluzzo Serra, and the Frugone Collections, dedicated to Belle Époque art, in the Villa Grimaldi Fassio. The Luxoro Museum (temporarily closed), concentrates on paintings, furniture and collectables from the 17th and 18th centuries in a villa once owned by the prominent Genoa family of the same name. Nervi is also the site of a Wolfsonian Museum (Wolfsoniana), showcasing paintings, decorative objects and historic media from the collections of the American philanthropist Mitchell Wolfson that highlight key design movements of the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries. After visiting the museums you can stroll along the sea promenade, the Anita Garibaldi Walk, or take a swim at one of the public beaches or at a private club.

TELLARO

Perhaps because it isn’t located on any rail route, this hamlet with roughly six hundred residents on the eastern coast of the Gulf of La Spezia, has retained its local vibe, offering a more rustic version of what some of the Riviera’s famous sea spots are known for. Tellaro is a compact gem with vividly colored houses seemingly woven into the cliffside, and a striking, often craggy shoreline that’s dotted with sunbathers in summer. Hotel Il Nido has a private beach for guests, and the popular Fiascherino beaches are a short distance away.

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