Levanto is a laid-back town on the Italian Riviera near the tourist-packed Cinque Terre. While it’s a good base for visiting Cinque Terre by train or boat, the town is a great place to experience slow travel. In fact Levanto calls itself a citta slow.
Levanto has an interesting medieval center, shops and restaurants, and a Blue Flag beach that’s a great place for swimming, kayaking, and surfing. In fact its one of Italy’s top places for surfers due to its long, smooth waves. Surf boards, boats, and kayaks can be rented in town.
Going west from Levanto, the small, off-the-tourist-track towns of Bonassola and Framura can easily be reached by bicycle or on foot along the level, paved pathway where the railway line once ran. Most hotels offer bikes or they can be rented in town.
Plan Your Visit to Levanto
Levanto is in La Spezia province, on the coast rail line between Genoa and La Spezia and the station is a short walk from the town center. The Cinque Terre express train runs between Levanto and La Spezia approximately every half hour, stopping in all 5 villages.
- We stayed at A Durmi, perfectly located just before the start of the pedestrian-only street. Our comfortable and quiet room opened onto a pretty courtyard with a garden. The English-speaking owner is very helpful.
- Another option is the historic 2-star Hotel Europa in the center of town. Both are walking distance from the train station.
Top Things to See and Do
- Levanto’s main square, Piazza Cavour, was part of a 17th century convent, although the fourth side was never finished. The town hall and a tourist office are in the square and behind it is the little San Rocco Oratory.
- Visit the shops along Via Dante Alghieri and Corso Italia. Stop in La Nicchia Pest.ifera shop, a top place for authentic pesto and other local products.
- Have a gelato at Basilico e Limone Gelateria where they use top ingredients and fresh, local fruits for their gelato.
- Walk along the Lungomare, seaside promenade, admiring the villas built on the hill above. There’s a pretty, private park that you can see through the fence. Sometimes concerts are held here in summer.
- Take a boat ride to see the Cinque Terre from the sea as well as the beautiful rocky cliffs and colors of the coastline. Boat excursions to Cinque Terre also leave from Levanto’s dock.
A Walk Through Medieval Levanto
Start at the gate on Via Garibaldi where the pedestrian-only area begins (right by A Durmi). This is the oldest part of town, once the port where boats unloaded merchandise. Where Via Garibaldi becomes Via Guani, look up at the building on your right to see remains of medieval grotesques.
In Piazza del Popolo is the 13th century loggia that was the seat of commerce with remains of a fresco. Across the street is a building with tall, narrow windows that dates from the 14th century (shown in the photo at the bottom of this page). Walking along Via Grillo, away from the sea, turn left to go up the little road to the Oratory of San Giacomo. Next to it is a little park with great views of the castle and Sant Andrea Church.
Come back down to Via Grillo and continue a little further to the Ospitalia del Mare, once a hostel for pilgrims and now a youth hostel. There’s a small museum inside. Just past it are remains of the 13th century walls.
Head up the little street across from the Ospitalia to arrive at the Romanesque Sant Andrea Church that dates from 1222, although it was consecrated in 1463. Its facade is made of white Carrara marble and local green serpentine. The 13th century Castle of Saint George sits above the church but is privately owned so it’s not open to the public. Wander around the narrow streets in this part of Levanto, away from the bustling center, for a real feel of the ancient city.
Our visit was organized by the Officine del Levante for the Festival delle Geografie. Disclosure: We were provided with complimentary lodging at A Durmi.
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