The Italian Riviera might not be as well-known as its French counterpart but that should not distract from its beauty and its wonderful coastline. Sometimes this part of Italy is known as the Ligurian Riviera, and is a coastal strip that stretches from the South of France right up to the border with Tuscany. It offers not just spectacular scenic views but also some of the prettiest small towns and villages in Italy. There is so much to do on the Italian Riveria apart from swimming in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean, there is great boutique shopping, wonderful hiking opportunities, and some fabulous food to eat at some really interesting local restaurants. If you are lucky to be visiting this part of Italy soon then be sure to visit the towns highlighted below.
This hidden gem is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site and nestled upon the Ligurian coast you can find the enchanting Portovenere. Most tourists ignore Portovenere in favor of the more popular Cinque Terre village options, but it is baffling why. This petite town has everything going for it, including beautiful churches, picturesque small colorful houses, and its own castle. Portovenere is a perfect base to explore the exquisite islands off the coast such as Tinetto, Tino, and Palmaria. They are perfect for a day cruise or to explore the many local caves that exist in and around the waters of Portovenere.
If you are going to explore the villages of the Cinque Terre then it is well worthwhile looking south at Riomaggiore. Roimaggiore is a small fishing village that has grown with the busy tourist industry and now offers some fine restaurants and cafes. And although the beach is pretty rocky it still offers enough space for bathing. The town’s life is based around its main thoroughfare, Via Colombo where you can find many souvenir shops, and superb local fish restaurants serving the catch of the day.
Another of the small towns of the Cinque Terre and possibly the most dramatic. The best way to see Manarola is by boat and you will be amazed how the village seems to loom out of the cliffs to come nestling down to the water’s edge, it is simply stunning as the buildings seem to be perched precariously on the edge of the rocks waiting to tumble into the Ligurian sea. Although Manarola has no beach to speak of, if you take the coastal path there are many places where you can sunbathe and gain access to the water.
Our final must-visit town of the Italian Riveria is Corniglia and is yet another of the Cinque Terre villages. Unlike all the other towns in the area Corniglia does not have a harbor and is a sleepy and rather peaceful get away from it all type of place. There is a train station nearby but be prepared to climb nearly four hundred steep steps to the village. The best option is to take the bus which will drop you at the village center where there are plenty of bijou restaurants to rest up and decide your plans for the day. Don’t make the mistake of many tourists and ignore these delightful villages on your tour of the Italian Riveria, it will be your loss.