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Sestri Levante

Sestri Levante is a charming coastal town in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy, 40 kilometers east of Genoa and 25 kilometers west of Cinque Terre. It is a popular tourist destination known for its picturesque beaches, charming old town, colorful architecture, and scenic views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Short video of Sestri.

If arriving by train, walk straight from the station along Viale Roma, an ordinary shopping street leading to Viale Mazzini near the waterfront and broad beach. Save that beach for later, and turn left on Mazzini and walk a few blocks to the traffic circle.

Here you can turn right on Corso Colombo, a curved lane lined with steel balls on both sides, which brings you directly into the pedestrian zone, with several charming lanes of shops and cafes.

Delightful pastel-colored buildings in that typical Ligurian style extend along both sides of the main lane, which becomes Via XXV Aprile, and continues for 250 meters on one of the nicest routes in Liguria.

It could be easy to miss all of this if you had gone directly to that first beach you saw from Viale Mazzini, called Baia delle Favole (Bay of Fairy Tales). That is a long, wide beach you can walk along later, but first, one must experience the real gem of town, a stunning crescent-shaped beach with clear blue waters called Bay of Silence.

Bay of Silence

The golden sand is framed by historic buildings and the Mediterranean, creating a relaxed atmosphere. It is the perfect place for sunbathing, swimming, relaxing, and taking in the stunning scenery, considered one of the most enchanting places on the Ligurian Riviera.

Winner of the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Beaches Awards 2019 , it was later reconfirmed as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Italy, taking fifth place. Characterized by crystalline water and fine sand, it is protected to the west by the massive promontory of Punta Manara and surrounded behind by typical Ligurian houses in pastel tones.

These aristocratic, historic buildings are witnesses of holidays dedicated to well-being and high-quality accommodation. During 19th-century Grand Tours, the Bay became one of the favorite destinations during stays in Liguria.

The historic center is surrounded by two bays, divided by an isthmus that joins the peninsula to the mainland. The larger bay on the other side of the isthmus is called Baia delle Favole (Bay of Fairy Tales), with a long beach known for its stunning natural beauty and crystal clear waters. The Old Town is called "Isola" or "the Island," as it is connected to the mainland by two narrow strips of land.

The old town is a labyrinth of narrow streets, alleys, and courtyards that are lined with colorful houses and shops. There are also several historic landmarks and buildings in the old town. The historic center, dotted with 14th-century slate portals, is home to the most interesting civil architecture, among which we find Palazzo Fascie , the palace of the culture of Sestri Levante, which houses one of the two libraries of the village, and the MuSel, the Archaeological Museum. Palazzo Durazzo-Pallavicini is instead the seat of the town hall of Sestri, built in the second half of the 17th century, which houses a painting by the painter Francesco Bassano depicting the Adoration of the Magi.

The town is also home to the Castle of Sestri Levante, a historic fortress that dates back to the 12th century. The castle is now home to the Archaeological Museum of Tigullio, which showcases artifacts from the Roman Empire and the surrounding area. Visitors can explore the castle walls, towers, and ramparts, as well as learn about the history of the region.

Numerous religious buildings are celebrating this glorious past. The Church of San Nicolò dell'Isola , dating back to 1151, is the oldest church in Sestri, originally in Romanesque style and transformed into Baroque style during the 15th century. The church features stunning frescoes and artwork, as well as a beautiful bell tower that offers panoramic views of the town and surrounding countryside.

The Basilica of Santa Maria di Nazareth , built in the 17th century, houses various paintings from the Baroque era and a wooden Pietà by Anton Maria Maragliano. The Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1688 in medieval style, not far from the Bay of Silence, contains inside a statue of the Immaculate dated XVIII century and religious paintings portrayed by Domenico Fiasella. Finally, in the heart of the ancient village, there is the church of San Pietro in Vincoli , built by the Capuchin fathers in 1640.

In addition to its cultural and historical attractions, Sestri Levante is known for its food and wine. The town is located in the heart of the Ligurian wine region, and visitors can sample a wide range of local wines and culinary specialties. Some of the most popular dishes include trofie pasta with pesto sauce, focaccia bread, and fresh seafood.

Sestri Levante also has several natural attractions that are worth visiting. The Punta Manara Regional Natural Park is a protected area that offers stunning views of the sea and the surrounding landscape. The park is home to several hiking trails that lead to beautiful vistas and secluded coves.

In addition to its natural and historic attractions, Sestri Levante is also known for its delicious cuisine. The town is famous for its fresh seafood, traditional Ligurian dishes such as pesto and focaccia, and local wines.

After exploring the Old Town and Bay of Silence, head back towards the other long beach seen earlier on Viale Mazzini. This expansive beach is not quite as picturesque, but is popular during the summer, with several food stands set up to feed the crowd. It is a place where local students can have some fun in boat races.


Sestri Levante has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to ancient times. The town was originally inhabited by the Ligurian Tigulli tribes, who were known for their seafaring skills and maritime trade. In the Roman era, Sestri Levante experienced a great period of splendor, becoming an important commercial center with a bustling port that traded in goods such as olive oil, wine, and fish.

During the Middle Ages, Sestri Levante was ruled by various feudal lords, including the Fieschi family, who were one of the most powerful families in Liguria. The Fieschi family built several palaces and fortifications in the town, including the Castello di Corte, which still stands today.

During the thirteenth century, it was chosen as the capital of the local Podesta office and then subjected, in the following century, to two attempts at siege: the first in 1327, by the lord of Lucca Castruccio Castracani, and the second by the Visconti family in 1365. In 1432 Venice attempted unsuccessfully to besiege the village, followed by Turkish and Saracen pirates.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Sestri Levante became a popular destination for wealthy Genoese families who built luxurious villas and palaces along the coast. The town also became an important center for shipbuilding, with several shipyards and naval workshops operating along the coast.

During the 19th century, Sestri Levante underwent a period of significant urban development, with the construction of new roads, bridges, and public buildings. The town also became a popular destination for artists and writers, including Lord Byron, who wrote about the town's beauty and charm in his works.

In the 20th century, Sestri Levante became a popular tourist destination, with the construction of several hotels and resorts along the coast. The town also played an important role in World War II, serving as a base for Allied forces during the liberation of Italy.

Today, Sestri Levante is a vibrant and thriving magical place that celebrates its rich history and cultural heritage. Its stunning beaches, beautiful architecture, historic landmarks, and natural attractions make it a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

When finished with Sestri, it is an easy walk back to the train station along Viale Roma, the same street where you began the visit. If you did not have a chance to eat in the Old Town, there are some food choices here, including take-away you could eat on the train.

Google map of Sestri

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