The Italian Riviera resort towns beckon with picturesque bays, suntanned bodies, rocky alcoves and colourful buildings. You’ll find beaches and coves packed with beach chairs in many Italian coastal towns.
So where exactly is the Italian Riviera? It’s also known as the Ligurian Riviera and is a coastal strip between the Ligurian Sea and the mountain ranges of the Maritime Alps and the Apennines.
It stretches from the French border (and the French Riviera) to the eastern end of the Gulf of La Spezia near Tuscany.
Here are five spots to put on your travel itinerary when visiting the Italian Riviera.
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Italian Riviera Resort Towns
The least well-known of the destinations on the south-east coast of Liguria, Camogli means “houses of wives”.
The name refers to the lonely womenfolk of the region’s fishermen. While their husbands were out at sea, the wives spent much of their time home alone.
Camogli is bright and colourful. It’s a picturesque seaside town with fishermen’s houses painted in jelly bean jar colours.
It’s a picturesque place with plenty of local scenes to photograph.
You’re likely to come across fishermen and their boats, clothes flapping on washing lines and a lively vibe.
The harbour has an ancient castle – Castello della Dragonara – which has foundations that date back to AD1000.
There’s a bit to see around the area too. Hike uphill to the ancient Abbey of San Fruttuoso.
If you’re a diver, lying 15m below the surface of the bay there’s a bronze statue of Cristo degli Abissi (Christ of the Abyss). The statue was put there in 1954 to remember those who lost their lives at sea.
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Portofino is possibly one of the most photographed seaside towns in the world, well certainly in Italy.
From the yachts and fine-dining restaurants, there’s no mistaking this is the glamorous side of the Italian Rivera.
Portofino is where the rich and famous hangout.
Soak up the ambience at one of the waterside restaurants, eat pasta, drink wine and rub shoulders with wealthy Mediterranean yacht-owner.
There are luxury villas tucked away in the hills and small boats bobbing in the ocean. The plunging cliffs, boats and sparkling ocean is my idea of a Mediterranean holiday.
Portofino is a great spot to experience European beach culture too.
The beaches are crowded and you’ll have to pay a to sun bake as beach stations offer facilities like showers, snack bars, beach chairs and umbrellas.
3- Santa Margherita-Ligure
Not as flashy as Portofino, Santa Margherita-Ligure is a little patch of Italian Riviera heaven to escape to. Santa Margherita-Ligure’s town centre is a hub of boutiques and nautical shops.
Rapallo’s open-air market is a great place to sample local fruit and cakes.
The waterfront has a sweeping bay guarded by an ancient castle and plenty of local cafes where you can drink coffee, eat gelato and enjoy the views of the Ligurian coast.
Discover Italian Riviera
If you’re visiting this part of Italy you’re likely to pass through Genoa, a large city with a historic old town. There are lots to see in Genoa, such as the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo (for Gothic to Renaissance architecture), Palazzo Ducale (the former palace) and the Strada Nuova museums.
It’s the gateway to two sides of the Italian Riviera, the Riviera di Ponente (setting sun) and the Riviera di Levante (rising sun).
Looking for a romantic experience? Belmond Hotel Splendido is the place to stay. Since 1952, when the Duke of Windsor was the first guest, the hotel has hosted a string of famous people including movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Clark Gable.
If you’re visiting this part of Italy, take a look at these Cinque Terre itineraries.
While in Italy head across the border to Switzerland for the train ride of your life aboard the Jungfrau Railway.