Sestri Levante is a city of 18,000 people (2011) in Liguria. While nearby Portofino and the Cinque Terre are probably the best-known tourist destinations on the Italian Riviera, Sestri Levante is popular amongst Italians. This once quiet fishing village is turning into a tourist hotspot, developing an old and a new town.
Sestri Levante is approximately halfway between Genoa and La Spezia. The town has two bays: Baia delle Favole, (Bay of the Fables), and Baia del Silenzio, the (Bay of Silence). The original part of Sestri Levante is on a peninsula, with the Baia del Silenzio (also known as "Portobello") on one side and Baia delle Favole on the other.
Sestri Levante has its origins as an ancient maritime and merchant centre. It used to be a small island with a promontory, but was later connected to the mainland. In Roman times, it was known as Segesta Tigullorum (or Tigulliorum) or simply Segesta, but the place was nearly abandoned when the Roman empire collapsed. It seems to have belonged to the Ligurian tribe of the Tigullii. During the Middle Ages, Sestri Levante began to expand, probably giving the fortress appearance that is due to the terrain.
In 1133, the noble family of Lavagna, the Fieschi, attacked Tigullio, the gulf in which Sestri Levante is located, however, they were fought off by the powerful Republic of Genoa, and therefore, Sestri Levante became a part of the republic, for military protection. In
The closest international airport is Cristoforo Colombo in Genoa, about km of Sestri Levante. It is an rather small airport, but there are direct flights from several Western European capitals as well as plenty of domestic flights.
Within the Tigullio gulf you can visit also Lavagna, Chiavari, Zoagli, Rapallo, Santa Margherita and Portofino. 30 km south you can visit the Cinqueterre, 5 small towns built on the rocks on the sea. The best way to reach there is by train from Sestri Levante.
The Galleria Rizzi houses a precious collection of paintings of the Genovese school (from the 15th to the 18th century). The Convento dei Cappuccini is in an extraordinary panoramic location, and that of San Nicolò in Isola is truly attractive. There are beautiful slate portals and marvelous villas and historic palazzos such as the Palazzo Negretto Cambiaso and the Palazzo Comunale, and the Villa Gualino and the Villa Balbi.
- 1 Immaculate Conception church and convent of the Capuchin Friars (Chiesa dell'Immacolata e convento dei Frati Cappuccini). 17th-century religious complex with great views of the Bay of Silence (Baia del Silenzio).
- 2 Chiesa di San Nicolò dell'Isola (Church of St. Nicholas Island), Via Penisola. Romanesque church built around 1151, with great charm.
- 3 Galleria Rizzi, Via Cappuccini 8, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A museum in the Bay of Silence that has a fine collection of paintings of the Genovese school (15th-18th century).
- 1 Osteria Gioitta, Via Nazionale 377, ☏ . W-M 12:00-15:00, 19:30-22:00, closed Tu. A romantic restaurant providing dishes of the local Ligurian and international cuisine. The main courses are fresh vegetables and meat ones, but you cannot also miss the sweets, all homemade. Small place, it is recommended the reservation.