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Enjoy our Cinque Terre Walking Tours

Take a boat excursion along the
coast of the Cinque Terre


Panorama of Levanto


Levanto Beachfront


Levanta sunset


Surfing off Levanto

Welcome to Levanto
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 5,665 (2004)
Official site:
Levanto
Wikipedia:
Levanto
Map:
MapQuest

Surfing anyone? Turns out Levanto, the principal town on the Riviera di  Levante, is a major draw for surfers from Europe and other parts of the world.  But, surfing is not all one can do in Levanto.  There are of course, many other water sports to participate in, such as boating, snorkling, scuba diving, swimming,  sail boarding and fishing. 

If you are not into water sports: what about biking, hiking, relaxing on the long, sandy beach, clubbing, gambling or sightseeing?  Levanto, in a word, has it all.  Hikers can take the well-trodden paths to the Cinque Terre, or hike into the National Park of Cinque Terre which surrounds the upper part of the town and most of the other nearby villages.  The dedication of the park has helped to preserve the natural beauty of the area, but also protect the agricultural economy which, together with the tourism, supports the area.

The town, called Ceula by the Romans, lies at the northern end of the area famously known as the Cinque Terre, which is within striking distance for hikers with stamina, or a short drive for the rest of us.

Levanto was settled in pre-Roman times, primarily as a fishing village, but also as a trading town serving the local area, where there are 16 or so associated villages.  The local landscape is not as hilly or steep as the Cinque Terre.  In Levanto and the surrounding towns, there are ruins, remnants and remains of over 30 ancient olive oil mills.  Indeed, olive orchards and vineyards have existed here from Roman times, if not earlier, and over the centuries, the dry and crumbly slopes have been shored-up and transformed by intense terracing.

Levanto has few full time residents (fewer than 6,000), but a summer time population that swells by a factor of 10 or more.  One of the principal draws in the summer is the feast day San Giacomo, Levanto's patron saint, which is held on the 25th of July.  Every Wednesday, throughout the clemant part of the year, there is a vibrant, busy and festive fruit, vegetable and fish market.

Levanto does not contain any remarkable architecture, save a few posh villas, but, a short walk up from the beach, it does have a pleasant town square, the Piazza della Loggia, on the side of which is, guess what, a medieval "loggia" dating from the 13th century.  There is also a  crumbling old castle and a few mall churches, primarily in the Romanesque style but with some Gothic elements.  As you walk through the town, keep an eye out for various wall murals, some of them quite good.

Among the villas is that of the Agnelli family, of Fiat fame, who maintain a small park accessible to the public.  A much older villa, the Villa of the Da Passano family dates from the 17th Century.  The castle, also dating from the 13th century commands a strategic position over the bay at Celasco, close to the town.

Among the churches in Levanto and surrounding areas, you will find the Chiesa San Giacomo (16th Century),  Chiesa San Andrea (1226), Our Lord of the Coast (11th Century), San Nicola di Chiesanuova (11th Century), Chiesa San Siro (11th Century) and the Chiesa dell'Annunziata (15th Century).  The Chiesa San Andrea features a white marble facade, the marble coming from Carrara.

Once you have worked up a good appetite, you will find the distinctive Ligurian cuisine  on order at local restaurants and cafes.  It largely features fish, of course, but the fabulous local olive oil and a variety of local vegetables and herbs goes into virtually every dish.  Ask for a local red, rose or white wine to complement your meal, and you will leave the table immensely satisfied, and ready for more of this wonderful town, sitting snugly on the Ligurian Sea.

By Vian Andrews, November 18th, 2005

Liguria Region
Cinque Terre

4410′N 937′E

Directions

By Car: 60 km to Genoa; 55 km to Lucca; 70 km to Pisa; 334 km to Rome; 92 km to Florence.
By Air:
Genoa airport (60km); Pisa Airport (70 km).  By train:  From Genoa, Pisa, La Spezia.

Directory

 

Stairway and arch, Levanto
 

Take the train (or bus) Finding parking in Levanto, particularly during the summer season is next to impossible.  We suggest you take the train, or a bus, then enjoy Levanto on foot.