A day in Santa Margharita Liguria
Our second day trip from our base in Rapallo was just a 5 minute hop on the train to Santa Margherita Liguria. I had wanted to walk along the coast from our hotel, as Rapallo and Santa Margherita Liguria are really close together, but there isn’t a pathway along the windy roads where Italian cars speed along at a thousand miles an hour, so we decided to take the train instead.
The Italian Riviera is a gorgeous, wonderful place to have your honeymoon. The towns and fishing villages along the coast all feel like they have been frozen in time, somewhere back in the 50’s or 60’s. In a way, both Rapallo and Santa Margherita Liguria both hark back to a faded glory of yesteryear. Not in a bad way that implies they are stuck in the past. They simply retain their old character, style and feel. You can still find all the modern conveniences you want or need.
Santa Margherita Liguria is a wonderfully old fashioned Riviera resort. The seafront esplanade is lined with lovely palm trees and the wonderful buildings are decorated with the same painted facades which we saw in Genoa. I love the trickery, known as ‘trompe l’oeil’ or ‘trick of the eye’, which makes you think they are far more ornately built than they really are.
Santa Margherita Liguria may have a smaller esplanade than either Rapallo or Camogli, it does however have a much larger town centre with more shops in greater variety to look around, if shopping is your thing. The harbour, which you can walk around, is split between a local fishing fleet – so important to this whole region, and small yachts. There seemed to be a good mix of restaurants, cafes and bars around the waterfront and in the town in general.
We first took a lovely walk along the esplanade, taking in the views out to see, the harbour and the lovely architecture of the buildings. We saw this stature of Christopher Columbus (above) who guards the harbour and who was a fan of the whole Genoa region. And, just like everywhere we visited on our honeymoon, we managed to find some lovely gelato in Santa Margherita Liguria.
The town’s centre has a lovely mix of building styles and colours, along with lovely churches like this one (below). As I said there is a good mixture of stores here, and Hana found a great clothes shop where she treated herself to a few new bit.
The town is made up of both big open spaces, wide streets and narrow alleyways. As everywhere in Italy you turn a corner and see a lovely ornate building, which might not be as it seems, like this one on the left below.
The town and waterfront are dominated by a low hill with gardens and villa’s which is a really lovely spot to explore. If you walk up from the seafront you will find Villa Durazzo. It is a grand seventeenth-century building surrounded by both lovely grounds and terraced gardens which are draped down the low hill at regular intervals.
The villa itself is much more spectacular when seen from the outside than inside it. The faded paintwork seen on the villa, and so many buildings along the coastal towns we visited, all gave that feel of a place a little past it’s prime. I think it makes these towns much more interesting and have more character than if they were polished up. I liked to imagine them in the past, perhaps back in the eighteenth-century in their hayday.
Villa Durazzo is used partly as a study centre and next to it is a coffee house where ducked out of a little rain under an outside table with an umbrella and got a coffee.
Whilst the outside is more impressive, Villa Durazzo is well worth taking a look around inside. There are still some nice frescoes you can see in the public areas which help you imagine the parties which must have gone on here in the past and still go on now – the Rooney’s held part of their wedding here a few years ago.
Getting to Santa Margherita Liguria
Getting to Santa Margherita Liguria is easy to get to from Rapallo either by boat (with Tigullio Lines) or train. The train takes five minutes and costs just a couple of Euros. The ferry journey is a little longer and a little more expensive but I think the best way to see a lot of these towns and fishing villages is from the sea. You can also get there by bus or, if you don’t mind walking along the roads in part, on foot it shouldn’t take more than about half an hour or so.