Travel Guide: The Italian Riviera
First off, I must apologize for the delay with my response in getting to this travel guide. It feels like life has been a complete whirlwind since our return from Europe but after sorting through notes and photos from our day trips, I’m finally thrilled to have put this together.
Our first stop in Italy kicked off in Santa Margherita Ligure with a second stop in Levante (near Cinque Terre) and wrapped in Lake Como. I’ve consolidated the Italian Riviera in this guide with Cinque Terre and Como coming next week.
We had rented a car in Marseilles and once the stay in our apartment was wrapped, we then continued along the coast to our next destination. To be honest, we found driving by car in Italy to be fairly straight forward with the help of the rental car’s GPS. The only struggle was having to accelerate from 0 to 130 on the highways after filling up for gas. Parking was quite easy to locate and as expected, pricier in cities such as Portofino or Como.
There is one hotel in particular I would highly recommend for drinks and apps around sunset called, Hotel Helvetia. Their Negroni was worth a second round and the views of Sestri Levante are unmatched. Had it not been 25-30 minutes away from Portofino, it would have been a contender for our stay in the region.
What To See
Santa Margherita Ligure: While most properties in the area likely feature a pool, there is a pubic beach front in Santa Margherita Ligure anyone can access. It never seemed overpopulated like in France so finding a chair wouldn’t be an issue. We didn’t have the time to make it but Villa Durante looked so picturesque and stunning in photos.
Sestri Levante: As mentioned above, if you can’t stop in this coastal town along the way, I do suggest spending an afternoon or day at the beach in this spot.
Where to Eat
Hotel Helvetia (Sestri Levante): Drinks and apps are a must here!
Ristorante Lo Stella (Portofino): We dined here for dinner one night seaside and it certainly made for a romantic setting. Despite all the raves and reviews however, we found the food to be so-so and overpriced for what we received. It certainly felt like a tourist spot more than anything else.
Al Faro di Portofino Bar (Portofino): That red path I was speaking about earlier? Follow it all the way around the top of Portofino and you’ll find yourself at Al Faro bar. Highly recommend for some insane views of the harbour and the sea.
La Tarrazza Restaurant (Portofino): I feel like this should almost be classified under ‘What to Do’ since eating here is almost an experience in itself. You’re likely to come across the Hotel Belmond Splendido if you’re searching hotels or restaurants in Portofino. The hotel itself is known as one of the most expensive properties in Europe and often a hot-spot for celeb spottings. We dined at La Tarrazza for an anniversary lunch and I would highly recommend. Nothing is more disappointing than an upscale restaurant where the food quality doesn’t match the pricing, but this was not the case. From the service to the food and the wine options –we were thoroughly impressed. I do recommend making a reservation far in advance and requesting a table along the balcony for the best views of the harbor.
Reve Café (Santa Margherita Ligure): This café is tucked away in the smallest corner of town and is super easy to miss but I highly recommend keeping an eye out for it. The pasta was so tasty and the shabby chic décor inside is definitely Instagram-worthy!
Angelo 48 (Santa Margherita Ligure): A romantic and quiet setting for a fabulous meal. A little overpriced for the area – but definitely worth it.