One of the larger towns along the rugged Ligurian coast between La Spezia and Genova. It is situated in an almost wide valley leading down from the mountains to a beautiful bay that actually has some flat areas down at the coast. This allowed the town to grow above its historic part at the eastern end of the bay and the areas besides the river are now covered by a typical Italian 20th century town.
There is even enough room for a decent train station with a bigger – albeit expensive – parking area. This, and the fairly easy access (still via a winding road but at least wide enough to allow oncoming vehicles to pass each other without too many difficulties) from the motorway make Levanto the major entrance to the Cinque Terre area. But donīt get it wrong, finding a parking lot down there is anything but easy and a costly thing and during main tourist season it often is impossible to find a place to park your car. Then it is still best to access by train. Levanto is a main stop on the coastal railroad and from there you can get to the Cinque Terre towns by a local train which runs on a fairly frequent schedule. Best to buy a Cinque Terre flat rate ticket then which allows you to get back and forth along the area and stop at the Cinque Terre towns when and where you like.
The historic part of the town at the flanks of the mountains bordering the eastern end of the bay is very nice but canīt compare with the Cinque Terre gems. It still is very well worth climbing up the steep street -or the stairs if you come from the beach - to the castle. The view from there is great and the church nearby is a gem.
The “modern” part of the town (mainly buildings from the first half of the 20th century) has an abundance of shops and restaurants and bars. It is bordered to the sea by the dam of the old railway track which also has some precious parking places up where the old station used to be. At the western end of the bay lies the modern yachting harbour.
The beach is very wide for this mountainous area and only interrupted by a few jetties. Its south-western orientation and probably some funnel effect by the shape of the bay make it a wave magnet which especially in winter sees some impressive waves breaking. This makes it one of the hot spots for surfers in northern Italy. The waves are tricky though and the surfing skills of the locals are quite high, so expect fiery competition for waves out there. The bigger days require some solid surfing skills and fitness.
For more visual impressions check the galleries (surf sessions from 2016, December 2017, January 2019 and a wild day in December 2019).
Mediterranean Chances – part 3 - Heritage from the Me(d)thadone series
Sick Days at the Med