Noli is a charming Italian Riviera fishing town that’s one of the Borghi piu Belli d’Italia, most beautiful villages of Italy. Its sandy beaches have been designated as blue flag beaches so they’re clean and safe for swimming. A castle sits on a hill above town and the picturesque historic center once held 73 towers (one more than San Gimignano) but only a few remain.
Plan Your Visit to Noli
Noli is along the SS1, the main northwestern Italy coast road. The nearest train station is in Spotorno, about 3 kilometers away, and is connected by bus. Buses run along the SS1 connecting the coast towns so it’s fairly easy to get around without a car. Noli is on the Riviera di Ponente between Genoa and Sanremo in the Liguria region – see it on this Liguria map.
Where to Stay:
- We stayed at Relais Real Collegio, a nice hotel in a former monastery just outside the historic center.
- Villa Salvarezza is on the other end of the historic center, near the path to the castle.
- Elena Noli is a small family-run hotel right in the historic center.
- See more places to stay in Noli
Where to Eat:
We had a great lunch outside at Malafemmina da Ferdi. Bucun da Preve, usually only open for dinner, is a top place to try local specialties which the staff will explain to you. Both are in the historic center.
Things to See and Do in Noli
Noli is a great place for a relaxing stroll along the seaside promenade or along the narrow streets of the small historic center where you’ll find shops and restaurants. During highs season, beach establishments run along the sea and there are good places for swimming or sun-bathing. Small fishing boats still head out to sea and there’s a stall along the promenade where the fishermen sell their catch.
- Entering through Porta di Piazza, the town gate near the sea, the Loggia della Repubblica is a covered walkway to one side that was large enough to hold boats in times of danger. The clock tower dates from the 13th century and the Palazzo del Comune is from the 15th century. The cathedral is Baroque style and there are several small churches to see in or near the town center.
- The stunning Romanesque Church of San Paragorio, just outside the historic center, is the town’s top monument. Dating from the 11th century, it’s one of the oldest and best preserved churches in Liguria. Tombs outside the church go back even farther and the crypt underneath is thought to be from the 8th century. Roman ruins are next to the church. The church’s current bell tower dates from the 14th century. Top sights inside are frescoes and paintings, a 13th century wooden crucifix, a reconstructed baptismal font possibly from the 9th or 10th century, a replica of the 15th century bishop’s cathedra, and an unusual round ancient funerary slab. Currently the church is only open Thursdays, 4-6 and Saturdays and Sundays, 10-12 and 4-6.
- Above town is the castle, Castello di Monte Ursino, built in the 10th century as a defense from Saracen raids. Parts of the ancient town walls remain, heading up the hill to the castle. As you’d expect, there are good views of town and the sea. It’s open for visits (usually on weekends with additional times in high season, hours are posted in town) and used for outdoor performances in summer.
- Hiking trails criss-cross the hills, offering fantastic views of the coast. One trail goes from the side of town opposite the castle to the ruins of Santa Margherita and San Lazzaro Churches and continuing back down to the coast at Capo Noli.