A traditional seaside resort known for not only its hilltop pilgrimage site Montellegro with its breath-taking sea views but also the lovely Castello d Rapallo that lines its shore
For a true slice of Italian riviera life, head to the picturesque seaside town of Rapallo. This lovely town, sandwiched between mountain and sea, has it all; candy coloured houses, winding narrow lanes, a palm lined promenade, crescent beach, small harbour and castle. All of this, but with less tourists than its more famous neighbours, and well connected to the surrounding resorts, make it a perfect riviera destination.
What to do
Take a stroll along the scenic palm lined promenade to Rapallo's most famous landmark, The Castle of Rapallo. Built on a rocky promontory at the far end of town, this small but imposing 16th century castle was originally built to defend the town from pirates, as well as house a jail and police station. It is now home to a small exhibition centre.
Head back into the historic town centre, a web of narrow cobbled streets and candy coloured houses lined with shops and restaurants. There are several churches of note, the 17th century Basilica of Saints Gervasio and Protasio, notable for its dome and 17th century belltower. The Church of Santo Stefano, dating from 1473 and the oldest monument in town. And the decorative, 16th century church of Saint Francis of Assisi, in the piazza of the same name.
Bag yourself a bargain at the lively street market. Every Thursday Rapallo comes alive with an authentic bustling street market running the whole length of the towns promenade. Stallholders come from far and wide selling everything you could possibly want, and more.
Cool off at the beach. Although not famous for its beaches, there are a couple of little spots to relax and take a dip. You will find sun loungers and parasols as well as the usual changing facilities and lockers. For a more spacious and free beach head to San Michele di Pagana, located between Rapallo and nearby Santa Margherita.
Take the cable car, the funiva, ride up the hill to Montallegro for breath-taking views.
Visit nearby towns. Rapallo is perfectly located to visit other seaside towns. Take the train along the coast to explore the Cinque Terre, Genova to visit the ancient centre and Camogli for the beach and monastery.
Where to eat
For fantastic seafood head to Vecchia Rapallo, situated just off the main promenade. Here you will find home stuffed pastas of sea bream ravioli with beetroot and prawn sauce, or chard with truffle shaving. There's also a cocktail and wine bar if you're just after a quick drink. For the perfect sea views, head to Eden Roc lounge and restaurant. Tasty food, good wine and fantastic deserts. Take a table on the huge terrace to take in the views of the sweeping bay of Rapallo.
For delicious wood fired pizzas head to Mare Blu in San Michele di Pagna, a perfect stop off point after a hike to Portofino. Huge Naples thin crust style pizzas, endless toppings and reasonable prices. Very popular with locals.
For one of the best bars in the best location in Rapallo, head to Bar Enoteca Il Castello. Situated on the waterfront, opposite the town's Castello, location really is everything for this quaint little bar. Enjoy an aperitivo and snacks platter whilst you sit back and watch the sun set over the sea.
How to get there
The nearest airports are situated at Genoa (31km) Pisa (118km) and Milano (121km). Rapallo is on the main Genoa to Pisa railway line and is well connected by intercity and regional lines. There are train links to Genoa (20 mins) Pisa (1hr 27 mins) Milano (2hrs 12mins) and Turin (2 hrs 30 mins) As well as an extensive local network connecting the town with the surrounding tourist hotspots.
If arriving by car the town is close to the A12 motorway, about half an hour away from Genoa, two hours from Milan and two and a half from Florence.
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