You may have heard of Sestri Levante before – but what is so special about this little town? Is it just another tourist destination? What are some things that you should know before visiting? Luckily for you, I am here to answer all of your questions and more! So get ready because soon enough we are going on a full tour around one of our favorite destinations in Liguria.
Sestri Levante is a picturesque little town on the Riviera di Levante midway between Genoa and La Spezia.
Portofino and the Cinque Terre are both world-renowned on the Italian Riviera’s eastern seaside. Sestri Levante on the other hand, midway between them is one of Italy’s lesser-known tourist destinations for visitors from other countries. For Italian tourists, it has long been a popular holiday spot, who come to its two beaches during the summer months.
The ancient town of this once-quiet fishing village is located on a peninsula, with the lovely Baia del Silenzio to the west and Baia delle Favole to the east. The beach was named for Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish writer of children’s stories such as The Little Mermaid and other tales who resided there for a short period.
What to do in Sestri Levante
Spend a day at the Beach
Sestri, which can also be referred to as the town with two bays, offers visitors a difficult decision. Which one to choose? The answer is simple: It is a question of personal taste.
Do you wish to visit the lovely, breathtaking yet sometimes crowded Baia del Silenzio (Bay of Silence)? There are several free public beaches and a few rocks on which to spend the day. Certain areas, however, are also reserved for hotel guests.
The Baia delle Favole, on the other hand, is flooded with bright colorful umbrellas. Each one is carefully planned to identify a specific section of the beach and its owner. Lido prices vary according to the season, with two sun loungers costing around €35 in the peak season (July and August) and about €25 in low season.
Explore Sestri Levante
The town of Sestri Levante is built on a tiny piece of land that once connected an island to the mainland. When you’re not sunning yourself on sand or lounging on a beach, be sure to visit the old town. Sestri Levante is characterized by an amazing array of colorful historical buildings, intertwining small streets. A perfect place for eating, drinking, shopping, and being merry. Especially on the main street Via XXV Aprile, you find an abundance of shops, restaurants, and cafes.
There are a few more sites to visit if you want to get further into Sestri Levante’s history or cultural identity, including:
The Basilica of Santa Maria of Nazareth is a 17th-century church with the appearance of a Roman theatre.
The Galleria Rizzi Museum: This beautiful mansion now houses works by the most renowned Genoese and Ligurian painters. Entry is €5 per person at the museum.
The Palazzo Fascie Rossi: A magnificent building from the early twentieth century that now houses the city library, historical archives, and an archeological and city museum. The cost is €5 per person.
You will discover that most buildings have been painted to appear significantly more magnificent than they truly are. Budget-savvy building owners who couldn’t afford to pay for the embellishments but could afford paint instead of sculpture to create the impression of a grand design were inspired by the magnificent renaissance manors that rose during the 15th century. A creative process that began in Genoa and has since become associated with the Italian Riviera.
Enjoy beautiful views
If you stroll around the Baia di Silenzio past Hotel Helvetia, you’ll come upon a steep uphill road leading to a residential neighborhood. Two magnificent views back over the bay are visible here, with the old town buildings in the background.
Consider starting one of several well-marked walking paths that depart from Sestri Levante for more gorgeous sea views. Follow the path leading from the old town to Punta Manara, from here it is possible to enjoy the magnificent panorama and admire the coast from Levanto to Portofino.
How to get to Sestri Levante
There are frequent direct trains to and from a number of major cities:
Genoa (30 mins -1.5 hours, €5)
Pisa (1.5 hours, €11-15 per person)
Rome (5 hours, €50)
Sestri Levante may be reached from the Cinque Terre via frequent trains that take as little as 19 minutes.
Motorway A12, exit „Sestri Levante“ then follow the sign „center“ for about 1,5 Km.
The nearest airports to Sestri Levante are in Genoa and Pisa.