Rapallo has been a well-known and popular tourist destination on the eastern Ligurian Riviera since the second half of the nineteenth century.
This popularity is also partly due to its strategic position: it is located right in the center of the Gulf of Tigullio, adjacent to Santa Margherita Ligure and a few kilometers from Portofino , Camogli and the Abbey of San Fruttuoso Capodimonte .
It is in fact an ideal location as a base for a holiday in the Ligurian east in the name of relaxation, good living and discovering wonderful corners.
Here, in addition to enjoying the classic sea life and sunbathing in the small bathing establishments of the city, you can move easily to discover the beauties of the surroundings.
Although the surrounding areas are very exclusive, sometimes a little snobbish, in Rapallo the atmosphere is decidedly more relaxed and welcoming, much closer to what is the everyday life of the inhabitants of Liguria.
What to see in Rapallo
Arriving in Rapallo with the highway you will first meet the modern part, which is located in the innermost area, close to the hills behind, and after crossing the railway you will finally arrive at the old part, overlooking the Ligurian Sea.
The oldest part of Rapallo is, of course, the most interesting to visit and experience: here you can get lost in the wonderful pedestrian streets of the center overlooked by the typical tall houses with colorful facades.
From all the alleys you can access the Vittorio Veneto promenade, an elegant seaside promenade in the shade of palm trees, with a succession of bars, ice cream parlors, hotels and restaurants with comfortable outdoor areas, a good lounge where you can relax in peace.
Vittorio Veneto waterfront
The Vittorio Veneto seafront in Rapallo is the classic “parlor” of the city, the beating heart of social life and entertainment. In short, the place to get to know the city and meet old friends.
What makes this promenade elegant and fascinating is the long avenue of palm trees on which the colorful Art Nouveau buildings stand out and host the numerous outdoor areas of bars, restaurants and hotels.
At the center of the promenade you can admire the famous music kiosk, dating back to the early 1900s when the city was one of the favorite tourist destinations throughout Europe together with Bordighera (where, in the same way, a music kiosk was built in the center of the seafront).
The promenade is also the scene of the most important events in the city, both in winter and, of course, during the summer season.
The Castle on the sea
The castle on the sea of Rapallo is located at the eastern end of the Vittorio Veneto seafront, it is surrounded by water and connected to the mainland by a pier.
This ancient castle is undoubtedly the symbol of the city and is in fact reproduced on postcards, stamps and souvenirs.
It was built in the sixteenth century to defend the city from attacks by Saracen pirates. During its history it was modified several times until it also served as a prison.
Today the castle is a precious exhibition hall.
But the most important event, in which the castle is the protagonist, is in July, on the occasion of the celebrations of the patron saint: the castle is artificially “set on fire” and is the culmination of the fireworks display that attracts thousands of tourists every year.
If you want to attend these traditional celebrations, you must come to Rapallo on July 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro
The sanctuary of Montallegro is a splendid church in the Baroque Renaissance style, a place dear to the Rapalloese and one of the most important Marian places in Liguria.
It was built in 1557 to celebrate the apparition of the Virgin Mary to a citizen of Rapallo right on this hill behind the city.
The sanctuary stands in a magnificent position with a breathtaking view at about 600 m above sea level. To access it you have to go up a majestic staircase.
Inside the sanctuary there is a rather rare Byzantine icon which is famous for a miraculous anecdote. This picture was claimed by the citizens of Dubrovnik. It was thus decided to return it to its place of origin but during the journey to Dalmatia the icon disappeared mysteriously and was found inside the sanctuary.
After this miraculous inexplicable episode it was decided to leave it permanently inside the sanctuary of Rapallo.
To reach the sanctuary you basically have two options, both very scenic: The easiest, least tiring and decidedly more popular way is the cable car, whose departure is right near the Rapallo train station.
The second option is to take a nice walk along the beautiful path that starts from the city center and allows you to reach the church in an hour and a half of walking.
The lace museum is located in the elegant villa Tigullio, an ancient residence surrounded by a wonderful park overlooking the sea.
The museum, which is easily accessible both on foot and by car, is the only one in all of Liguria dedicated to the tradition of bobbin lace, also known by the name of Bobbin lace.
In this museum you will be able to admire clothes, bobbins, linen and accessories for the home, all artifacts embellished with decorations made with this technique, which is carried over from the sixteenth century, from generation to generation, of Ligurian women.
Walk of kisses
The walk of kisses is a pedestrian street that leads from Rapallo to Portofino.
This walk is accessible to everyone because it is free from technical difficulties. The route is 8 KM long and has an average travel time of about two and a half hours.
Along this walk you will pass on gentle ups and downs, you will be able to admire natural elements and wonderful views and many ancient villas.
The itinerary begins in Rapallo, near the castle, crosses the entire seafront and continues up to Santa Margherita Ligure. After passing this town too, you stop near the nearby bay, cross a wood, sheltered from the sun’s rays, and reach the enchanting village of Portofino.
Monastery of the Poor Clares
The monastic complex of the Poor Clares overlooks the sea and is located a few tens of meters from the ancient castle.
This structure was built in 1600 and was initially used as a cloistered convent until the early 1900s.
It was then deconsecrated and used during the wars as a barracks, then as a warehouse for boats and finally as an elementary school.
In the 1970s it was transformed into a 265-seat auditorium theater and is still used for this purpose today.
The Gaffoglio museum is also housed within the complex, where the rooms of the convent once stood. This museum houses the works of art donated to the city of Rapallo by Attilio Gaffoglio and his wife.
From Rapallo it is really easy to reach even the Pearl of the Mediterranean, Portofino .
By boat or in a few minutes by car it is possible to reach one of the most iconic places in Liguria. This magnificent village nestled in the greenery is one of the most exclusive tourist resorts in the world and attracts thousands of visitors every year including artists and famous people.More information
Abbey of San Fruttuoso
San Fruttuoso is an incredible locality hidden in a small cove of the Portofino promontory. Here, hidden between the green of the Portofino park and the deep blue of the sea, is the famous Abbey of San Fruttuoso Capodimonte.
The abbey is a really recommended stop for those in Rapallo or its surroundings. During the summer it can be reached effortlessly by boat and the journey is enchanting and scenographic.
For true explorers and hikers it is also possible to reach this place on foot through the Portofino Natural Park.More information
Christ of the Abyss
The Christ of the Abyss is a must for diving enthusiasts. If you are in Rapallo or even in San Fruttuoso you must absolutely organize a visit to this suggestive work.
The Christ of the Abyss is a bronze statue lying on the bottom of the sea at a depth of fifteen meters in front of the bay of San Fruttuoso.
It was placed here in 1954 by Guido Galletti in memory of those who died at sea.
Diving near this statue is truly a unique emotion. On calm sea days, even the surface of the water is clearly visible with a mask and snorkel.
For diving enthusiasts also the Grotta dei Gamberi, near Punta Chiappa, is very interesting: it is named for an incredible number of crustaceans that rest on its walls.
Beaches of Rapallo
In Rapallo, as in many other places in Liguria, the beaches are small and with a pebble and gravel bottom and crystal clear blue water.
Many bathing establishments in Rapallo have organized themselves with stilts and wooden walkways to take advantage of every available space and on which they have put colored cabins, umbrellas and sunbeds for bathers.
This makes the bathing establishments of Rapallo very characteristic and ideal for making new friends and, perhaps, new loves.
In Rapallo you will also find one of the few sandy beaches on the eastern coast: the Lido beach.
If you decide to stay a few days in Rapallo, you cannot fail to discover some truly unique beaches in the area: the pozzetto beach in Zoagli, the pomaro trelo and prelo beaches in San Michele di Pagana, the Paraggi beach, which is well-known also as “Portofino beach”.
Of course, a swim in the bay of San Fruttuoso di Camogli and an easy dive to see the Christ of the abyss are also not to be missed.
Where sleeping in Rapallo
There is no shortage of places to sleep in Rapallo. Here there is a large hotel offer, many B & Bs, guest houses, holiday homes and apartments for tourists.
Most of the hotels are mid-range, but there are also several luxury hotels with impeccable services.
On the other hand, it is more difficult to find cheap hotels, especially in summer and during holidays. To find the best low-cost solutions, it’s best to plan your holidays in advance and book your room right away.
How to get to Rapallo
Reaching Rapallo is very simple.
By car you have to take the A12 motorway, take the Rapallo exit. If you are nearby you can simply follow the Aurelia road.
Rapallo has its own railway station on the Genoa-La Spezia line. It is an important route with quite frequent trains.
Rapallo can be reached by bus from the main towns of Liguria. To arrive from the sea it is possible to take the boat from the ancient port of Genoa or from Camogli.
The closest airport to Rapallo is Genoa airport ( http://www.aeroportodigenova.it/ ), about 40 km away and easily reachable by train, bus and taxi.
ACCOMMODATION IN RAPALLO
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