Golden Day Eighty-Seven: Pleasures of Rapallo
We’re moving on to the lovely seaside town of Rapallo, between Portofino and Chiavari, tucked into the Tigullio Gulf. I remember my first visit there, struck by the elegance of the promenade, imagining the writers, D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, and Hemingway–who spent inspirational time here…
The art of lacemaking has been going on in Rapallo since the Middle Ages, when women who mended their husband’s fishing nets began to turn their skills into an art form that produced beautiful things. I still have a sachet I bought at the charming Emilio Gandolfi shop (Piazza Cavour 1), that’s been run by the same family since 1920, and exports their products all over the world.
Danis Konstantilakis, from Greece, who has fallen in love with Liguria and created the Cinque Terre Villages website, has joined in to share her favorite places for a Golden Day in this little piece of Ligurian paradise:
One sight you can’t miss, dominating the harbor, is the Castello sul Mare (Castle-on-the-Sea). It was built in 1551 as a protection against pirate attacks and now is open sporadically for visiting exhibitions.
Rapallo’s seaside promenade, Lungomare Vittorio Veneto, is the centerpiece of town, lined with palm trees, art nouveau style buildings, restaurants, and caffes.
The Chiosco on the Lungomare is an old fashioned band stand, where you can often hear live music. And be sure to stop at Frigidarium (Lungomare Vittorio Veneto 4), for the best gelato in town. It’s a small shop owned by Chicco (Francesco) Barbetta and his wife Anna, where the freshest ingredients are used to make delicious treats.
Another pretty place is the Villa Tugullio, surrounded by a landscaped park, where indoor and outdoor concerts are held. Inside is a Lace Museum and International Library.
Or you may want to walk or take a funivia=cable car from Piazza Solari (8 minute ride, runs about every 1/2 hour) up to the top of Montallegro Sanctuary, where the Blessed Virgin Mary was believed to have appeared to a peasant.
For lunch, dinner, or afternoon snack, enjoy Rapallo’s best seafood at Trattoria da Mario (Piazza Garibaldi 23, 0185 51737, Closed Wed, dinner reservations a must).
A reasonably priced, elegant and comfortable hotel, steps from the promenade, is Hotel Riviera. It was built in 1905, aand it’s where Ernest Hemingway wrote a short story called “The Cat in the Rain.”, about an American couple on vacation in Rapallo.
Or if you want something more luxurious, with modern rooms, a garden, spa, and fitness center, check into the 4-star Europa Hotel, right in the center of town.