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Riviera del Levante

 

“Lenta e rosata sale su dal mare la sera di Liguria, perdizione di cuori amanti e di cose lontane.. Indugiano le coppie nei giardini, s’accendon le finestre ad una ad una come tanti teatri.” (Vincenzo Cardarelli)

It is commonly said that Liguria is a rough and mountainous territory, a narrow crossroad with trails facing the rough fishy sea. This is partly true, but also the opposite is true, in fact where the territory of the Cinque Terre ends, the land becomes easier to cross, leaving behind  steep slopes and straw yellow vineyards, in fact we find coves and beaches alternated to cliffs and dreamy bays.

We identify this pleasant interlude of lands, worthy, yet still not fully acknowled, like the neighbouring Cinque terre, with the name Riviera del Levante – Eastern Bays.

 In the province of La Spezia beyond the typical spur of the Five Villages, clung to the rocks overlooking the sea, a place envied by the whole world, the last lushy part of the riviera Spezzina shows some well known villages, appreciated for their seasides and the excellent cuisine: Levanto Bonassola, Framura and Deiva Marina.

Going west, Deiva Marina divides the provinces of La Spezia and Genoa, as it is the last village of this charming territory, a starting point to reach the Bay of Fables and the Bay of Silence in Sestri Levante, a municipality that includes Riva Trigoso and Moneglia, both in the province of Genoa. If we think about all these areas we might be surprised by the many qualities of each place, and following the route on a map, it could help people to imagine the various differences that Liguria has to offer, in fact it is not just a place with coves and rocky dungeons.

The valley in Levanto is in fact as an entry gate to and from the Cinque Terre. Before or after the moorings in Monterosso al Mare, a natural bay streatches creating wide sandy and  pebble beaches, from Punta Mesco to Punta Levanto, the so caled Baia di Levanto. This slice of heaven, is shaped by terraces that cover the valley towards the big beach, we must say that it has changed in time, particulary after WWII, thanks to an economic growth, yet keeping its classical middle age village look, with its old and new part and the usual conurbation around the main church of Saint Andrea, that has the typical facade with alternated stripes, and the narrow streets such as Via dei Forni and Via Garibaldi, where tourists can find the oldest shops and the best villas; it has become an appreciated beach resort, so dear to people from Milan and Emilia Romagna. Many are the cultural initiatives: a good cuisine represented by focacciarie, restaurants, bistrots and hotels, its pedestrian and cycle path “Maremonti”, that connects Bonassola to Framura, is the right keystone to move in the neighbouring areas, to which mountains and the broad hills wink. The coastline is characteristic, a generous wind  blows every day, making it an ideal place for those who love surfing, windsurfing and bodyboarding.

If we want to state exactly what Levanto can do for a tourist, we could certainly say that hospitality comes first. This is the ideal place for a long priviledged holiday, with shops that sell local specialities (run by charming people who are willing to teach the art of pesto sauce), and particular gifts, an area equipped with swimming pools, beach resorts, and we must not forget its nature, with the same colours that can be found in the National Park of the Cinque Terre, so close to this area, and in the poems written by Montale and Casella; all this will help us to enjoy better the movida in Levanto.

The area in Bonassola is mainly crossed by the SP39 road, well connected to La Spezia and Levanto, it borders to the east with Levanto and to the west with the small village of Framura, its hills are touched by the warm sun at sunset and we are sure that your emotions will be dragged far away.

Bonassola is perhaps more rural than Levanto, but at the same time shows an elite touch, less lively but with an ancient history to remember, it is believed that it origins started well before the Roman domination, as there are some remains of an ancient road.

The inhabitants are jealous of their treasures but willing to share their cuisine and  heritage, the beautiful landscapes of the gulf and the endless pine groves, cover Mount Rossola, the former location of the mine, people think it was a gathering place for witches, the view from here of the rich sea clung to the discreet clouds that almost reach Portofino, is really stunning. The colour board of mother nature in Salto della Lepre (Hare jump) is unforgettable, a landmark on the trail between Bonassola and Levanto.

We can say that the touristic culture of this second village, located in the province of La Spezia, is undoubtly based on its beach resorts, but at the same time benefits of the presence of many historic buildings, with great architectonic value.

We finally reach on tiptoes the munipality of Framura, far from the crowded roads, spread along twenty kilometres, it has a sort of impressionist allure. From the rugged and stony trails, well signalled by CAI, we reach the historic centre with the typical gispy coloured Ligurian facades, that go as far as the sea. Sparkly shades  of the time when the village was attacked, luckily only for short periods, by the pirates, thanks to its Caroligian sighting tower and the boats taken ashore

Only a painter would know the right colours to depict such landscape, red, pastel pink, yellow ochre used on walls, and the rusty slate roofs, stick out and enhance the clear coast and the blue sky.

Trains stop in Framura, as well as in Levanto, which is wonderful and convenient  for people who want to make a complete tour of the three villages.

The Cinque Terre are a well established reality, but we can say that the three villages of Levanto, Bonassola and Framura have a similar identity, even if very different. The hamlets Castagnola, Costa, Setta, Ravecca and Anzo by the sea, complete the possible choices for a holiday in complete relax, away from the lively nightlife.

Tourists will be welcomed warmly, and will be able to enjoy the scent of saltiness and the chirping of crickets in the evening, among Aleppo pines and woods.

Deiva Marina is the typical gathering place that you are bount to find in this region, located half way from the ancient and lively Genoa and from La Spezia, a smaller town yet à l’avant garde. The sighting towers are a true bond with the town of Genoa, as well as its culinary culture, based on sea food, thanks to its fairly rich trade in fish; the neighbouring villages in the province of La Spezia spread up to Passo del Bracco, where eco friendly campsites and family run agritourisms are many to choose. Deiva Marina borders to the west with Moneglia and to the est with the thick vegetation of Framura, and the municipalities of Carro and Carrodano, that are part of an area called Alta Val di Vara. There is a price to pay to enjoy the beauties of this part of Liguria, providing you don’t want to get lost along its windy trails that start from Via Aurelia, a one way road that passes through old railway tunnels, timed by a traffic light. You won’t lose much time, and above all think about the emotions you will feel while crossing Alta Via dei Monti Liguri, let the world rest just for a moment and enjoy the view of the sea, so close to you…right at your feet. The beautiful days and stunning sunsets are always there in Deiva Marina. A scenario with promontories and cliffs alternated to small beaches ( the beach called Fornaci is shared between Deiva and Framura), it is a long beach, about a kilometre, close to Portofino,  the cork trees, and the small villages of Mezzema, Piazza and Passano, the right stay that every foreign tourist expects.

Deiva Marina is a Ligurian hamlet of modest dimensions, that lays perched in the old part of the village, inland, built mainly around the church of Saint Antonio Abate, and its marvellous churchyard, the Marina where we can find hotels, beach resorts and the newly paved and extended promenade, with its geometric lines. One curiosity: Deiva is very convenient, if you want to reach in a short time Val Fontanabuona, a place famous for slate mines and its local craftsmen.

Our holiday hero would litteraly stick out of the former and dark railway tunnels, struck by the hot sun rays, but finally reaching a precious bay, surrounded by thick woods and olive groves, and connected in a few minutes to Tigullio.

Nature

Lulled by the breeze, we make our way in a world crowded by forgotten crafts and scented Mediterranean maquis that covers  paths, rocky staircases and steep slopes, at first sight impossible to cross. We can see  beech woods, chestnut woods, hornbeams and hazel trees everywhere, and near the coast Aleppo pine groves reflect their image in the very deep sea bed.

The Eastern Bays are located strategically where Cinque Terre and Golfo del Tigullio meet, in one of the most spectacular areas of Liguria, an ideal place with sea routes, hills and mountains to discover, very close to the towns of Genoa and La Spezia.

The Eastern Bays harbinger an untouched wild nature, especially going inland, where the area is also rich in history and culture. Flora and Fauna are undoubtly valuable (some species are monitored by the Regional Ligurian Observatory) a winning card for those who have already tried seaside tourism on their own.

The management of the customers and the prices applied for campsites and family run agritourisms are really competitive, besides many of them offer outdoor areas and pet friendly accomodation,  also easy to be reached by train.

This area has also been given a further acknowledgment for the quality of hospitality and the attention to keep its waters clean and healthy, all this tells us how easy it is to visit places in the province of La Spezia, that have obtained the Blue Flag.

Levanto has an arc shaped coast of about a kilometre long, it has always had sandy and gravel beaches, with rocks and coves halfway the steep slopes. Some beaches are well equipped with deck chairs and sun umbrellas, and it won’t be a problem to rent a  boat or  a canoe to reach unique ecosystems, bays and less sheltered coves. Here there is a great interest and attention to its landscapes and environment. The Cinque terre can be reached on foot throught the paths along the coast and inland, There is a cyclepath that connects Levanto to Framura, it was a former railway tunnel, now it is part of 876 kilometres of “Rete Ciclabile Ligure” (Ligurian Cycle net).

If you want to feel the emotions while diving in the Eastern Liguria, don’t be afraid to contact the many experts of the diving schools of the area.

The stretch of water that is part of the Park Punta Mesco, is a stone’s throw, here shallows and the sea bottom attract keen divers. There is also the possibility to follow proper courses and obtain a diving certification.

Buzzards flying up high in the sky, girls from La Spezia on their way back home from the beach, wolves that seldom hunt in the Appennines, this is a possible scenario if we hang out till sunset along green ridges and rural paths, it is the right place for people who love slow food cuisine, sea food and land specialities.

The real charm in Levanto is the seafront close to the National Park of the Cinque Terre, and that part of sea where there is the Sanctuary of Cetaceans, you should take your binoculars, as whale and dolphins are easy to spot.

In the village of Bonassola, located at a close distance from Levanto, the area looks as if it has merged with the cultivated terraces, this is another place worth to visit, as well as the botanical garden near Madonnina della Punta and Villa Peverati.

Bonassola and Framura are more sheltered than other villages, and live thanks to tourims, the coast shows high cliffs with small submerged coves when the tides arrive, other coves and narrow paths overlook the sea and waves, both villages are well marked on CAI maps,  well frequented during the high season.

 Wide dirt roads and slopes offer a peaceful heaven. It is worth to mention the semi hidden bay Portopidocchio in Framura, there is a walkway to reach this area.

The beach in Bonassola is wide and relaxing, there are so many opportunities in the village if you need accomodation, traditional cuisine, this is an unforgettable place as Hemingway used to say.

Following the path that takes to the village, we see yellow juicy lemon trees and cotton lavender, lemons are grown without pesticides and hand picked when ripe.

In any case if you like walking, the right place for you is Framura, its territory has many ancient charming hamlets to discover, and the trails will make you feel its magical and untouched atmosphere.

The remains of the former town Vigo and its castle, show part of the ancient history of Framura (the poet Eugenio Montale was the first one to enchant its merits), thanks to its mild climate, you can relax in a quiet, peacefull place, overlooked by the promontories of Punta del Carlino and Punta Apicchi.

At a short distance the villages of Carro and Carrodano shine among strawberry tree bushes, close to Levanto and other small centres, not so far from the fluvial area of Val di Vara; marshes and alders delimit the area and lush Aleppo pines are practically everywhere.

Deiva Marina is a small seaside place with excellent hotels, campsites, trekking trails and areas suitable for sports such as fishing, surf-casting, horse riding, sailing and windsurf.

Near the roadstead there are exceptional plant species and animals, maritime pines, broom bushes, borage, myrtle, thyme, elicriso and rosemary, while on the other side we find a long beach, sheltered from the winds; if we go inland we will reach the Natural Park “Monte-Serro-Punta Mesco”, of which the village is part, shady chestnut woods and cork trees depict the magnificent mountains where badgers, foxes and wild boards dig their burrows.

On the slopes of Mount Serro (421 metres above the sea level) located between Deiva Marina and Framura, we find the typical rich environments, after the small roads you will find some panoramic landscapes on your way to Moneglia, that can be easily reached after some tunnels by car. Pebble beaches where divers and swimmers enoy their time protected by dirt roads, the lush vegetation that covers the rocks that lead towards the sea, scented woods with mulberry trees and buttercups cover Passo del Bracco, nature is all around us.

The soil and the unbeaten routes are favourable to the growth of Mediterranean Maquis, the steep slopes between Punta Rospo on the east and Punta Moneglia on the west, are well protected by a carefull environmental policy.

Events and places of interest

There are many places of interest to visit during your stay in the territory of Baie del Levante. Starting from Levanto we can not begin without mentioning the building that represents the village better than anything else: it has a Ligurian Gothic style facade with stripes, Carrara marble and serpentine stone ,we’re talking about the beautiful Church of Sant’Andrea Apostolo, with its bell tower, raised en pendant, and some alterpieces painted in Renaissance style.

In front of it we find the walls and the built up area with the towers of the castle of Levanto, a clear example of majestic Genoese Genoese military art. This complex will certainly capture your interest, it is characterized by an austere, large circular observation tower, beaten by the winds, placed high is the Castle, protected by quadrangular walls. The treasures of the complex are the bas-relief, that belong to the Genoese school, in slate stone, which depict the Annunciation and St. George.

Vox populi tells that the castle was the junction of some underground passages, one near the beach, just below it, and the other one near the Church of the Annunciation, that goes under the whole village.

If you climb up to the hamlet Montale, Pieve San Siro with its bell tower is a place of worship well appreciated by the inhabitants of Levanto, curiously it was made using overlapped local limestone.

Madonna della Guardia, located at the end the village, is a huge Latin cross shaped neo- Romanesque sanctuary, with a wide external portico. Titola is the town and premises  of the same parish, diocese of La Spezia-Sarzana-Brugnato. At the end of August Marian celebrations take place, followed by a procession and a charity lucky dip.

Not to be missed are Piazza della Loggia and Villa Agnelli, the latter was built in the early twentieth century, it has become famous for its gardens, close to the sea. Via Garibaldi is a tribute to the city, it shows a typical Genoese style, gathers the fishermen tower houses, at present it is the premises of the Municipality, with its charming porticos.

At the end of July, the town  hosts a historical procession, and a historic tournament with flags, a solemn procession with huge Ligurian crucifixes livens the night of the town, at the end fireworks conclude the “Sea Festival”. The celebrations started to honour the patron saint of the sailors, practically a co-patron of Saint Andrea, Saint Giacomo. In October a foot race of great interest takes place along the valley, it is called Stralevanto.

Bonassola underwent the same fate of Levanto as it was attacked by pirates, in the village  are the remains of a stone castle, with a large and magnificent clock. Another typical church is that of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, with its beautiful Baroque façade, unfortunately the tower, that once belonged to Ardoino, is in poor conditions.

The pale yellow Oratory of Sant’Erasmo dominates the village, it was built in a simple style, the access is through a stairway, at the end of which is a mosaic in polychrome local stones, placed to form floral designs and the so-called “Greek” fret. Beyond Paganetto the important  buildings in Bonassola satisfy every tourist: Vinzoni, Farina and Saporiti, as well as the tower-houses whose arches and portals recall very precise ancient times, the history of the village, shows some important names to remember. Even the  area of the village close to the sea, shows a row of houses built on the shoreline, it represents a place of interest with the built up area, where the sea has left place, of a later period are the settlements on the hills. A trade fair dedicated to “Madonna del Rosario”,  takes place every year in September, while other events and festivals with typical homemade cuisine are held in Easter and other periods, in many areas and also in Montaretto, one of the most noteworthy hamlets. Several musical concerts, one in particular opens the festival  “Bonassola, Jazz and More …”. In August, the “Festival Mare Mosso”, with workshops, meetings and children entertainment.

Framura, the most beautiful village in Italy, hosts in Anzo the small church of Madonna della Neve, decorated in neo-gothic style, popular at the time.

In Costa, we find a Carolingian watch tower and a simple but charming church built for San Martino, renovated in Romanesque style, it is not easy to find as it is half-hidden in the streets of the hamlet. The parish complex of San Lorenzo, in Castagnola is very ancient, as you enter you can admire the “Deposition of Jesus” depicted by the painter Luca Cambiaso.

In the village of Passano, adjacent to  Castagnola, we can see on the hills, the evocative ruins of a feudal castle, built according to the will of the Republic of Genoa and close to the place where the fortification of the Signori Da Passano was built. Blocks of stone covered by vegetation in front of the ruins, do not ruin the charm of  the oratory of San Giovanni Battista.

The promenade Torsei-La Vallà recalls the famous Via dell’Amore in the Cinque Terre. The history of Framura can be discovered by booking a free guided tour to San Martino and its tower.

The production of typical local products is well appreciated, starting from “Framura bread”, meat, sausages, honey and preserves, and of course IGT wines, produced by farms located in the area of the small hamlets.

Food and wine tasting tours throughout the summer, “Mangia Borghi – La Festa del Turista”  offer wonders to eat; “Feast of Our Lady of the Sea”, again in August, with fireworks and live music, an unforgettable night in front of the rocks and the sea.

The historic centre of Deiva Marina is a maze of tower-houses, arches,coloured facades with tiles, plenty terraces and flowers everywhere.

The hamlet grew up around the small parish church of Sant’Antonio Abate, built in 1730, with an impressive wide staircase, a typical mosaic with river pebbles (the polychrome churchyard, par excellence, of the Eastern coast).

San Giovanni Battista, patron saint of the town, is celebrated every year on 24 June, with a bonfire. The oratory dedicated to the Saint is located in the historic centre.

In Piani della Madonna  near Piazza, we find a nostalgic encounter between faith and nature is influenced by the charm of a thousand year old sanctuary, the church of Santa Maria Assunta, apparently rebuilt as per order of the Da Passano family, over an older chapel.

A magnificent carnival is celebrated every February in Deiva Marina , with parades, costumes and masks all along Corso Italia: at the end of the event, children gather in Piazza della Posta, to break the pignatta and eat sweets.

In August the village celebrates Madonna della Guardia, with mass and procession.

In September a marathon takes place along the blue trails, it is called “Marcia Podistica dei Sentieri Azzurri”.

Lifestyle and spare time

A summary of the lifestyle in the Eastern Bays, might not be an easy task.

We’ll tell you just a few things to give you an idea of the many activities, plenty as well as the ice cream flavours that link Levanto to Deiva Marina.

Our first choice is a place well sheltered from the sea storms but at the same time ventilated, the Gulf of Levanto.

It offers unforgettable afternoons at the beach and many very pleasant activities. The sea promenade is also one of the main gathering places for its inhabitants and tourists during summer evenings, walk up and down to digest Grappa di Pigato, or gradually getting used to the salty yummy flavour of farinata.

The town centre is also one of the main attractions in Levanto, it is full of shops, clubs and food shops, there is a wonderful example of Gothic-Ligurian church, built in the thirteenth century, dedicated to Sant’Andrea, the patron saint of the town (the celebrations take place in November).

A day by boat, fishing, diving, or the classic boat tour to discover the coves and many hidden areas, such as those around the town of Vanderecca, near Framura, are not the only option: from Levanto you can take one of the various trekking trails, with different difficulties, or using a mountain bike and going down the slopes, without forgetting the surrounding nature.

Making an estimate, there are almost eighty miles of trails around Levanto, some of them are connected to the Cinque Terre (from Punta Mesco to Monterosso al Mare), others reach the rural communities of Lavaggiorosso, Montale , Dosso or Groppo. The glimpse of a stolen sunset from the hills of Dosso, deserves a stay in this place.

If your love for hiking already knows the rough area of the Cinque Terre, here, in the Eastern Bays, you will find Bonassola, with its charming steep and rugged hills. This won’t discredit the tranquillity and kindness of its inhabitants, craftmen, the cosy courtyards and vegetable gardens, you will find the right place for an aperitif with an amazing sea view.

Since 2010, the well-established cycle-pedestrian path Levanto-Bonassola -Framura,  attracts families and sportsmen, that have the habit of going along this unusual and convenient path, to reach in no time the other villages.

As usual, we recommend it for its breathtaking landscapes … you cycle very close to the clear sky, and at the same time you can see some paradisiac coves, a unique experience in its kind.

Talking about coves, we must mention Scà, located between Bonassola and Framura, and the stunning “Blue Grotto”, which can only be reached by boat or canoe. 

Palazzo Paganetto is well worth a visit, you will feel the atmosphere of the eighteenth century, and reflect about the words “NULLI CERTA DOMUS”, you will understand why .

Montaretto and Reggimonti double the views of Monte Brino, and that of a nearby  municipality, despite the thriving seaside tourism, they liven this part of the Mountain Community of the Riviera Spezzina.

Madonnina della Punta is one of the two promontories, covered with Mediterranean maquis and mountain flowers, placed to protect the beach and the village of Bonassola.

Right on top of it there is a beautiful, secluded, small church, to tell the truth it is more like a chapel overlookig the sea, easy to reach on foot as it is within walking distance from the centre, it draws the attention of every budding photographer.

We have included it as it is a landmark of the area, moreover the architectural triumph of the Madonnina, an ideal destination for day and night walks.

After crossing the cycle paths, with their incomparable sea landscapes, moving towards Framura, we come across Castagnola, a small village located inland, similar to  the nearby village of Passano, that belongs to the municipality of Deiva Marina, of particular interest are the remains of the ancient castle of the family Da Passano, destroyed by the Genoese in 1173.

Bonassola and Framura, have something particular in common, the wrecks on the bottom of the sea, where moray eels, groupers and mullets live free. These wrecks have remained practically lulled by the waves for ages. The tugboat “Vittoria” is at a depth of about 40 metres, while the steamship “Bolzaneto”, is at around 60 metres. Photos can be taken, helped by skilled divers, without any improvisation.

Framura is a village made up of several groups of houses, liven up like a typical Italian garden, perhaps apparently suspended above the sea. Going out in the morning  to the twentieth century marina is inevitable, protected by the biggest rock in Liguria, the Ciàmia, this rock is surrounded by strips of land that few people know, people are struck by the syndrome of Stendhal, for its porticos, the shady stairways and the small flats, that luckily do not allow to stay for long periods. Framura is a sincere, true, village with the built up area located halfway up the hills, surrounded by holm oaks, agaves and widespread Middle Age allure.

The area of Fornaci would look like the moon in a postcard, it is close to the last municipality of La Spezia, Deiva Marina.

What does Deiva have that the others do not have? It has charm, history, delicious food, campsites and boat trips, but all this can be found in any of the villages of the Eastern Bays, and yet Deiva stands out for its seaside holiday resorts and bathing areas.

You might meet a group of motorcyclists getting off their Harley Davidson, aiming to feel their bellies with tagliatelle, instead of wasting fuel and sweat driving on the hills of Mezzema-Incisa-Deiva, a junction with paths spread all along a rich territory, where the local serpentine stones is quite common. It is worth trying to climb the spurs of rock, or walk among chestnut woods, picking the chestnuts along the paths.

Deiva Marina lives divided in half,  on one side it has the soul of an outpost useful to reach Val di Vara, Val Graveglia, Val Petronio, too many valleys, too many seaside places, and on the other side it is like a naughty pirate, but  provided with facilities, wi-fi and comforts. Not bad, for a tiny, small harbour.

Food & Wine

There is a double concept at the base of the local gastronomy: it tries to get the best out of both land and sea, using the great products of the vegetable gardens, wild herbs, and daily catch. We have talked about the many olive oil mills of the area, but we must not forget the presence of various cooperatives, wine cellars, cheese factories and ancient wholesale butchers.

In this regard, the cuisine of the Eastern Riviera uses little meat, in fact it can only be found in few recipes, as the land does not favour livestock. Liguria is considered the “homeland” of olive trees, in the Eastern area where the fruit of this magnificent plant is harvested, it boasts the certification Riviera Ligure di Levante PDO.

Each dish has maintened the simplicity of the past, when anchovies used to be fried in big pans, and mushrooms were hand picked only in the right season, using very tall baskets.

The cuisine of the inland areas, benefits in fact of the rural production, thanks to orchards, vegetable gardens, and aromatic herbs, which we have already mentioned, they increase the taste of main and second courses.

Basil can be considered the master of the ingredients, it is not only used to make the famous Ligurian pesto sauce, so popular in Genoa as is the rest of the Region, but it is also an ingredient of the soup called “prebuggiun”, a true healthy dish, that uses chard and early spring cabbage.

We can find delicatessen and typical dishes, with slight differences according to where they are made, recipes depend on the ingredients of the pastures of the Appenines, and the big bays of the Ligurian Sea, rich in kingfish, gilthead breams and small fish called paranza.

The paesant and seafaring traditions meet the simple focaccia, a perfect snack, so popular in the province of La Spezia, but we can find other recipes that use testi or fried dough called sgabei, not to mention the well appreciated wines.

Riviera di Levante means also savoury pies, stuffed vegetables and pasta factories that make wonders such as pansotti with walnut sauce especially in the area of Sestri Levante, or corzetti and testaroli, that can be considered as local treasures in the Magra Valley.

In Levanto there is a great production of focaccia, called in local dialect  “fugassa”,  it  holds a significant record in the slow food sector. Onions and potatoes grown in the hamlet of Pignone, are well appreciated by those who live here, the local wine, Colli di Levanto, full-bodied and persistent red wine, are a cure all, to taste with savoury cheese and game. Another  popular local product is aged pecorino cheese .

“Gattafin” are yummy fried ravioli stuffed with wild herbs and chard, another good dish is panissa, made with a chickpea flour dough, cut in squares and then fried; these are the typical dishes that can be found in the menus of the local trattorie. We must not forget the sea so rich in fish, and the many anchovies, a key ingredient of the cuisine in Levanto, Bonassola and Framura, but most of all in Riva Trigoso.

Anchovies can be marinated, salted, “in bagnum” with vinegar, fried, stuffed, cooked with tomatoes and bread crumbs.

A quick and crispy starter are “gianchetti” fritters, whitebait fritters, quite rare to find as there are strict rules to protect the species, are made with a light dough with eggs, flour, water and finely chopped garlic and parsley.

Stockfish is a winter dish, it can be served stewed with potatoes, or fried. Cima alla Genovese is another tasty dish, it is a meat pocket stuffed with minced meat, celery, carrots, eggs, peas and the unmissable majoran that is often used in other recipes.

As desserts in Levanto we must taste the delicious lemon semifreddos, limoncino and “spongata” Sarzanese, do not be afraid to pop in the shops to taste the typical products, or follow the paths and reach, at a short distance, the village of Carro in Val di Vara, ask to try their famous chestnut honey, it has a slight smoky flavour, or their balsamic and sweet honeydew.

Talking about cuisine the villages of Bonassola and Framura, follow the maritime tradition, which uses simple ingredients such as olive oil, fruit, vegetables of the season, red meat from Val di Vara. A bio, healthy cuisine.

Salted cod fritters with borage and marjoram, “tagiain”, with pesto sauce, lots of blue fish, home-made pasta and sapid main courses rich in legumes or rice, show how the country life is part of the heritage of these villages.

Fish “burrida”, plenty molluscs and red tomatoes,  “mussles soup”, or “caponada” with anchovies, and why not try “mesciua” in winter,  it is a thick soup made with chickpeas, cannellini beans, lentils and spelled wheat,  these are some of the cornerstones of these villages.

When choosing a wine the experts of the wine cellars, or the local producers will provide advice, be sure that here you can find the best white-gold wines made in Levanto.

The right table wines to accompany each flavour, will be dry and full-bodied white wines; rarely red wines are used in this part of the coast; Sciacchetrà (Slow Food Presidium), a passito, liqueur wine is produced thanks to the fermentation of Vermentino, Bosco and Albarola grapes, which provide an almond after taste; this liquor is perfect to complete a meal or to accompany various snacks.

It is a very ancient nectar, known and loved also by Boccaccio, Petrarca, Giosuè Carducci, just to mention a few.

In the list of traditional desserts, in the area of La Spezia, we must mention castagnaccio, made with chestnut flour, pine nuts and raisins on top, sometimes also rosemary is used as topping … or bucellato, made with flour, eggs, sugar, milk, butter, and lemon or orange zest; apple fritters, pandolce, with marsala that helps to mix the ingredients well, olive oil, raisins, pine nuts and walnuts, make the dough thiccker. So yummy!

Deiva Marina cares a lot about its main courses, as here well known products such as pesto sauce, and focaccia are so popular.

The production of artisanal ice cream, in particular, is also worth to mention in the village of Deiva Marina, thanks to skilled ice cream makers, who take care of the quality and origin of all the ingredients used, creating original, unique tastes that will remind you of your holidays in this amazing part of Liguria.

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