Rugged cliffs, turquoise waters, and pastel seaside villages make up the dramatic scenery of the Italian Riviera. Poised to please the senses, it’s sure to accommodate any time of the year, especially during those warm summer months.
I’ve included a few of my favorite photos taken in the eastern half of the Riviera known as the Riviera di Levante. Each one brings to mind the soft soulful breezes along the village promenade, tethered fishing boats bobbing in the harbor, rugged rocky harbor views and delicious seaside aperitivos.
Above is the charming little harbor of Camogli, just thirteen miles south of Genoa and one hour drive up the coast from Cinque Terre. This slow-paced fishing village acquired its name from “case delle mogli,” (“house of wives”). In earlier days, the men spent long hours at sea in their fishing boats while the wives kept the home and awaited their husband’s return.
Portovenere, located on the western tip of the Gulf of La Spezia, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sea caves dot the rocky shoreline. Among them is Byron’s Cave, a tribute to the famous poet who received inspiration for his literary works while staying in Portovenere.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta in Camogli sits on a rock island near the harbor. It’s looming beauty is the accumulation of interventions and expansions from the 16th and the early 19th centuries. Inside, one’s senses soar at the sight of hanging crystal chandeliers that reflect off of the fine gold stucco and polychrome marbles.
The private little harbor of Portofino is fringed by a piazzetta of high-end boutiques and seafood restaurants. Super yachts find port here among the more modest fishing and luxury boats. Historically tied to the rich and famous, British actor Rex Harrison owned a villa here in the 1950’s that he named San Genesio after the patron saint of actors.
Beauty runs all along the coastal stretch of the Italian Riviera. Most everyone gravitates to the wide promenades and cozy harbors.
The arched city gates and facade of Portovenere’s alley of shops and eateries originated in the 11th century, according to the inscription on the wall.
The harbor of Portovenere as seen from Doria Castle high above the town. The three islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto are reachable by boat and a pleasure to explore.
Chiavari market day brings on a brilliant display of fresh and delectable produce. Meats and cheeses are offered as well with small samples to taste. I especially enjoyed conversing with the vendors.
The Romanesque church of St. Lawrence, erected in 1098, stands above the village of Portovenere. Glimpses of the harbor can be seen below.
Chiavari has a lively and colorful waterfront. During the late afternoon passeggiata, people walk the promenade or enjoy an early aperitivo with friends and neighbors.
Gray accents took over the rocky shore of Portovenere as the sky began to grow mysterious. After a day of showers, the sun rose to greet us the following morning. A blue sky cast a warm brown hue over the rocks, lapped gently by the turquoise Mediterranean Sea.