by Angie Nardiello aka Reasons to dress

Levanto, is much more than a pit stop to Cinque Terre

I remember the first time I went, it was to park the car for the day so my family and I could catch the train into the Cinque Terre. After we parked the car we walked along the expansive seaside boardwalk that overlooks the beach for as far as the eye can see. The sun illuminated the colorful buildings and tree filled mountains behind us and I remember thinking “I wish we didn’t have to catch the train!”

It was spectacular, I wanted to stay, but as a tourist you always worry about what you are “missing” by not going to the more famous destinations right away, and at the time I didn’t know much about Levanto. Levanto, for most tourists is just a “pit stop” on the way to somewhere else, well I can guarantee you, this city is worth the stay with enough to keep you interested for a weekend or a month.   A fantastic position strategically placed between the Cinque Terre and the other cities along the Bay, this city offers tourists an authentic experience in Liguria including food to write home about!

The Pasticceria Bianchi

Start your day off like a local and head to the Pasticceria Bianchi where the sweet smell of freshly baked Brioche and bomboloni will have you ready for a day of exploring. The Pasticceria Bianchi is housed in a historic building once used as a public hostel when Levanto was at the centre of Italy’s greatest maritime Republic. The building and its beautiful interior were almost as impressive as the pastries they served. Opened in 1889 it is still family owned and many of the mirrored wall panels and furniture are originals from the turn of the century!

Bianchi Pasticceria Via Vinzoni, 33, 19015 Levanto, Italia +39 0187 808183

THE BEACH!

Lest we forget that Levanto is a beach-side destination with the added benefit of simultaneously catering to tourists that usually stay for a month at a time! This means that you can find services such as beach lounge chairs and umbrellas for rent if you’re looking for a relaxing beach day with all the comforts of a luxury vacation. Besides the serviced beach there are plenty of areas to throw down a towel for a day if you plan on a more low key experience.

The Antiques Market and Events

Levanto, unlike much of the Cinque Terre is still very much a local’s city, with many markets, events and festivals catering to locals year-round. Think about exploring an antiques market set amongst luscious palm trees, searching for a treasure while a light breeze brings the smell of fresh foccacia your way!

Focacceria Domè

Speaking of focaccia, do not leave Levanto without tasting the World famous focaccia! The Focacceria Pizzeria da Domè has been family owned and operated since 1989 and prepares fresh focaccia every ten minutes! I highly recommend it topped with stracchino cheese and fresh pesto, get there early and save yourself on the patio so you can enjoy a fresh piece, piping hot from the oven.   Focacceria Domè  – Via Dante Alighieri, 18, 19015 Levanto – Tel. +39 0187 801470 

Il Laboratorio Del Pesto

More than a store, the Laboratorio del Pesto in Levanto owned by Luigina Peselli offers tastings and pesto classes to create the authentic recipe yourself. Luigina is a Knight of Real Genoa Pesto, a “Cavaliere del Vero Pesto Genovese” as deemed by the Order of the Confraternity of Pesto – ORDINE DEI CAVALIERI DELLA CONFRATERNITA DEL PESTO, rest assure this is NOT a tourist trap. I recommend ordering a few jars of pesto as they ship internationally and you can have their prestigious products delivered right to your door.

Please note that their workshop and tasting MUST be booked in advance for a minimum number of participants! They are offered in a variety of languages.

Il Laboratorio del Pesto Via Dante Alighieri, 16, 19015 Levanto – Tel. +39 0187 807441

Explore Levanto By Bike

One of the most bike friendly areas of the Bay, Levanto has large boardwalks and bike paths that make it the perfect city to explore on two wheels. Don’t worry about the expense, with small mom and pop shops like Tina and Mario’s Bike Rental you can rent a bike for 10 euros a day or 40 euros for the full week! Prices include locks, helmets and children’s bike seats and most bikes have baskets so why not pack a picnic and go exploring!

Tina & Mario’s Shop owned by Francesco Lapucci  – Corso Roma, 3, 19015 Levanto – Tel. +39 0187 807480

Maremonti Pedestrian and Bike Tunnel

After you rent your bikes in Levanto prepare for the experience of a lifetime, the brand new Ciclopedonale Maremonti, the Cycle and Walk path that connects Levanto to Bonassola and Framura, two smaller localities in the Bay of Levanto Abandoned for nearly 40 years, this section of an old train tunnel is directly beside the sea, hugging the mountain’s edge to give you unparalleled views as you cycles through sections of darkness and light.

Visit Framura

After 30 minutes of cycling along the pedestrian and bike path you eventually arrive at the port of Framura. This Antique Borgo has been deemed as one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. If you arrive by bike through the tunnel be aware that there are many stairs to climb to reach the actual historic centre, a great challenge for those seeking a more active vacation! You can also arrive via the direct train that leaves from Levanto or by car.

Discover Secret Beaches

Because Levanto is not as heavy of a tourist destination there are still plenty of secret coves and beaches to discover along its coastline. The best ways to get there are by bike along the bike tunnel or by renting a boat! Renting a boat will also give you the freedom to explore landscapes that are otherwise unreachable for an unforgettable view of the coastline.

Enjoy Levanto’s Centre

Filled with life in the evenings and serenity during the day, Levanto is a wonderful city to explore. Look away from the sea (if you can!) towards the mountains for inspirational scenery. During the day walk along the main streets where you can find shops, specialty stores, clothing boutiques and of course gelaterias for a real scoop of ice cream (or two)!

Osteria Tumelin

Levanto is a seafood lover’s paradise with plenty of restaurants and hotels offering traditional dishes at reasonable prices. If you’re looking for the perfect dinner I recommend the Osteria Tumelin, a few steps below street level in the “Casa Capitanato” building from the 13th Century you’ll find this Levanto institution since 1970!   Enjoy the massive hot and cold seafood appetizer but be sure to leave room for the trofie al pesto and of course dessert! Book in advance if you plan on going and let them know if you want to be out on the patio or inside.

Osteria Tumelin – Via D. Grillo 32 – 19015 – Levanto – Tel. +39 0187.808379 – info@tumelin.it

The next time you find yourself planning a trip to Liguria, don’t overlook Levanto as just a “pit stop”, this city is filled with real local culture and adventure and a perfect blend of amenities and discovery to keep any traveller happy.

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