Autumn in the Gulf of Tigullio
I do not think many have any doubts about the beauty, the variety of landscapes or the quality of the food and wine offer of Liguria, a region that can be visited at any time of the by lovers of sea, mountains, picturesque village or shopping.
We think that spending a few days in Liguria is always a good idea, also in the fall. The water temperature still allows for bathing, the climate is still mild and allows both stops at the beach and hiking in, no too hot and not so cold, and the places are not as crowded as in summer. Last year we have already dedicated a post to the Cinque Terre; today we would like to dedicate ourselves to the Gulf of Tigullio and give you some advices.
This year we spent a weekend in the middle of October, finding a blue enamel sky, a clear sea as we had never seen it, and the typical ligurian buildings shining with warm and bright colors.
Accommodation and eating in Rapallo
We made Rapallo base for the overnight stay: Rapallo is actually a convenient choice; boasting of a vast choice of hotels, really for all tastes and pockets, from the luxurious ones facing the sea (at this time you can find very attractive deals) to the cheaper ones, which can be found not only in the inner city, but also on the waterfront (like the Bandoni, one star, in the middle of the old town and facing the sea). The record of economicity is perhaps boasted by Da Marco, who in this season offers a double room (with dinner in the close restaurant included!) for a total price of 50 euros.
In the same way, you can find a rich and various choice of restaurants: very touristic on the waterfront (and to tell the truth less aware of the typical cuisine of the area), cheaper in the areas to the railway (where you can find menu with different dishes and drinks at less than 10 euro!), in addition to those offering a more refined cuisine. We will never regret the Trattoria Genovese in via Roma, run by a Brazilian married to a Genoese cook, who offered fantastic menus at modest prices, offering also the out-of-menu of spicy conjugal bishops. Unforgettable.
How to get there and how to move: transports and excursions
Rapallo is also very easy to reach both by car (with the A12 motorway) and by train, with a station in the city center and trains rather frequent. Using regional trains, you can move from one location to another along the coast.
For those arriving by car, most of parking opportunities are located in the harbor area and on both sides of the riverfront in the west of the city. The Aurelia road runs along the coastline and allows you to reach many renowned localities in the surrounding area (we mention only, among the closest, Santa Margherita Ligure, Camogli, Chiavari, Sestri Levante in the Gulf of Poets). The coast is very built but the road offers beautiful panoramic views and fascinating examples of integration between architecture and the natural environment. It is not always possible to reach Portofino with its own car, as sometimes the last stretch of road is closed (even this season) to avoid excessive automobile crowding. Better by walk, by bus (often crowded) or by ferry.
From Rapallo, in fact, more or less frequent by season, numerous ferries that allow you to reach directly by the sea, with beautiful views over the coasts and in the mountains behind, many of the beautiful resorts between Genoa (Portofino, San Fruttuoso) and La Spezia and Cinque Terre.
Lastly, from Rapallo you can take several panoramic hikes on the hills behind (between 6 and 800 meters, or you can settle down to reach the church of Sant'Ambrogio di Zoagli at a much more modest height); but there is also a cable car that allows you to reach the quaint Sanctuary of Montallegro, just over 600 meters above sea level (an idea for the lazy average might be the climbing in the cable car and the descent on foot).
Walking from Rapallo to Portofino
For those who want to have a nice and easy walk and match hiking and beaches, we recommend the Rapallo-Portofino route. The whole route is about 8 km away, all on a panoramic roadside by the sea. The promenade offers beautiful and wide views of the Gulf of Tigullio and beyond, on the cliffs and on the vegetation in front of the sea. The vegetation includes from conifers to agaves and palms, with all the range of Mediterranean essences and the presence of exotic species and a profusion of flowers, alongside the autumn colors of the deciduous trees.
The first part of the route presents some inconvenience for the lack, in some sections, of a pedestrian sidewalk; from Santa Margherita to Paraggi there are sidewalks and wooden walkways alongside the road, while from Paraggi to Portofino you can choose a path in the green, more or less parallel to the carriage, with some ups and downs. It can be a good alternative when the sun hits; in our opinion it is best to follow the road, that offers better sea views.
Along the way you can take advantage of two beautiful beaches set in the bottom of enchanting bays, between the greenery of the vegetation, the colorful small villages behind, the blue of the sky and a splendid sea. These are the small beaches of San Michele di Pagana, between Rapallo and Santa Margherita, and Paraggi, between Santa Margherita and Portofino. In high season beaches are rather prohibitive, either for crowding whether for bathing establishments that occupy almost the entire shore. In this season, however, anyone can enjoy these magnificent places free of charge. The shores are of rough sand and fine gravel; the sea is very beautiful and the temperature even during this period allows beautiful swims, in a cool but pleasant water, once passed the first impact, clear and transparent. Along the way you will meet Santa Margherita, another pretty town that allows a stopover for refreshment with a lunch break, or perhaps simply with a Liguria focaccia or ice cream.
Along the route there are also three small castles: the sixteenth-century Rapallo castle, picturesque erect on the sea just in front of the village, the Santa Margherita castle and the Brown Castle over Portofino, on the path leading to the lighthouse. Santa Margherita also deserves a visit to the villa Durazzo-Centurione, on the hill behind the center town, amidst a splendid Italian garden full of flowers and exotic plants. Historic buildings today host temporary exhibitions and permanent collections.
Needless to say, the final destination of the route, Portofino, one of the most famous Italian resorts in the world. From here you can go back to Rapallo by the bus leaving behind the famous piazzetta, with direct races or changing in Santa Margherita.