As my first blog post, it only feels right to pay tribute to Levanto – the town that makes up ½ of my blog’s name.
If you make it to Levanto, its almost inevitable that you’ll visit the nearby towns of the Cinque Terre. I’ll save those towns for another day, since there’s charm-a-plenty in Levanto.
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes Levanto so special to me. It’s partially the Italian Riviera veneer that is the stuff of dreams – a long black sand beach, lined with boats and colored houses. It’s also the quintessential small town Italy feel that hasn’t been taken over by tourists (every single shop closes for siesta from 130pm to 400pm every day). But even more so, it’s the people. The locals walking and chatting down the main drag while they pick up their morning focaccia and the lady behind the gelato counter who seems to know every kid’s name and favorite flavor.
1. Boating Trips. Take a kayak out for a couple hours to explore the caves nearby, venture further in your own mini motorboat that rents for 20 euros/hour, or go all the way and hire a skipper to take you on a full tour. I recommend Marco, the sea captain who runs Rosa dei Venti and whose catch phrase is “I live free”. Ask at the tourism office and they’ll point you to him.
2. Pizza to go. I usually opt for the very thin variety that is dripping with stracchino or ricotta cheese and nothing else. Or try one with pesto, which originated in Liguria (the region of Italy that Levanto is in). There are many focaccerias lining the streets in Levanto and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. You’re in luck if you find one taking trays out of the oven right as you walk in.
3. Explore the area. The hiking trails that link the 5 towns of the Cinque Terre to one another are well known (perhaps too well know, as there has been erosion from the amount of foot traffic). Consider doing the 2 hour hike from Levanto to Monterosso instead, which offers views of the ocean and goes up through hills covered in vegetation that is unique to this part of the world. For a lighter excursion, take a bike ride out of town, through the tunnels along the water. You’ll soon wind up in the next town North, called Bonassola. You’ll be glad not to have a car when you realize how easily you can get between the towns without one.
Have you visited Levanto, or the Cinque Terre?