Welcome to Santa Margherita Ligure, one of the most famous and fascinating tourist resorts on the entire Ligurian Riviera. Nestled in a sheltered bay along one of the most enchanting stretches of coastline, this beautiful town is rightly considered the Pearl of Tigullio.
Rooted in the days of ancient Rome, Santa Margherita Ligure is marked by an intense and fascinating history. Over the centuries it has witnessed devastation and rebirth, suffered occupation by Saracen pirates, and its identity has been shaped by these ups and downs.
Santa Margherita’s fascinating transformation into an elegant coastal town began in the second half of the 1800s, when the European elite began to explore the beauty of Liguria, a phenomenon common to places like Bordighera and Alassio.
After World War II, and more markedly in the 1960s, tourism in Santa Margherita Ligure, like the most beautiful Ligurian resorts, experienced a dizzying and unprecedented development.
Today, “Santa” pulsing with energy, proves to be a fervent center of activity, particularly during the summer season, with a variety of bathing establishments, bars, and restaurants enriching the visitor’s experience. However, it has managed to retain an atmosphere of understated elegance, a true legacy of its “belle époque.”
If you are planning an unforgettable vacation in Liguria, a visit to Santa Margherita Ligure is a must. With this guide you will have the opportunity to discover all the secrets of this fascinating part of the Riviera.
What to see in Santa Margherita Ligure
Santa Margherita Ligure, nestled between the Ligurian Sea and the rolling hills of the Ligurian Apennines, is a true natural paradise.
This charming town on the Italian Riviera is famous for its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, lush vegetation, and scenic promenades.
Here is a guide to the natural beauties not to be missed in Santa Margherita Ligure.
Villa Durazzo is not only one of the best-known icons of Santa Margherita Ligure, but it also represents a jewel of architecture and nature that deserves special mention.
Villa Durazzo was born from the union of two distinctive aristocratic villas. The first, Villa Durazzo-Centurione, was built in 1678 by Clelia Durazzo Grimaldi. The Centurione family then added a second villa in 1820. Today, both parts form a large complex named Villa Durazzo.
Characterized by its Baroque style and rich interior decoration, Villa Durazzo has a magnificent facade adorned with a double loggia. The villa’s interior is equally charming, decorated with gilded stucco, frescoes and period furniture. You can admire the beautifully preserved frescoes by Genoese painter Gregorio De Ferrari, the ornate rooms, and the chapel.
The most striking element of the mansion is the Vaymer Room, decorated with mirrors and Bohemian crystals, which reflect light in an interplay of reflections and splendor.
In addition, the Villa Durazzo complex includes a beautiful park with an extraordinary variety of plants. Visitors can take a walk among the Italianate hedges, tree-lined avenues, and paths among Mediterranean flora. There is also a charming rose garden in the upper part of the park, and there is a stunning view of the city and the sea.
There is no shortage of fountains, statues and a Chinese pavilion, where one can enjoy quiet moments, immersing oneself in the beauty of nature.
Today, Villa Durazzo is not only an attraction for tourists, but also plays a cultural and social role. It often hosts exhibitions, concerts, lectures and weddings. The park is open year-round and is a great place to enjoy some leisure time.
The Castle of Santa Margherita Ligure is one of the city’s most fascinating historical attractions and stands majestically on a promontory overlooking the sea. A visit to this historic gem is undoubtedly a must for anyone who decides to explore this beautiful location on the Ligurian Riviera.
The history of the castle
The Castle of Santa Margherita Ligure was built in the early 17th century and made its appearance on the historical scene during the age of the Republic of Genoa. Its original purpose was to protect the city from attacks by pirates and rival powers. Over the centuries, the castle has gone through different historical periods and undergone many changes, witnessing the changes that have taken place in the region.
Architecture and structure
The castle is an imposing square structure characterized by massive stone walls and bastion corners. The main façade, facing the sea, offers breathtaking views of the coast and harbor of Santa Margherita Ligure. Although the interior of the castle has been modified over time for various uses, it still retains its original charm and architectural style.
Today, the Santa Margherita Ligure Castle is open to the public and is used to host cultural events, exhibitions and weddings. Thanks to its prime location and fascinating history, the castle is a wonderful setting for any kind of event or just sightseeing. If you are lucky, you might even come across one of the fireworks displays held throughout the year, with the castle illuminated by a multitude of colors and lights.
Church of San Giacomo di Corte
Located in the heart of Santa Margherita Ligure, the Church of San Giacomo di Corte is one of the city’s most important artistic and religious landmarks. This historic building captivates visitors not only with its architecture, but also with the many works of art it houses.
The Church of St. James of Court has a long history behind it. Originally built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century, it underwent substantial transformations over the centuries. In the 17th century, in particular, it was enlarged and renovated in the Baroque style that distinguishes it today.
The Church of St. James of Court features an elegant and balanced Baroque facade dominated by a fresco depicting St. James. The interior, with three naves, is rich in decorations and works of art of considerable artistic value.
The high altar, featuring polychrome marble, houses a splendid altarpiece depicting the “Madonna and Child with Saints,” by Genoese artist Domenico Piola. The side aisles house numerous other works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and frescoes by various artists.
A very fascinating element of the church is the historic organ, made in 1834, which represents one of the most important testimonies of this type of instrument in Liguria.
Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino are two of the most fascinating locations on the Ligurian Riviera. And the good news for visitors is that they are located very close to each other, making it easy and rewarding to plan a visit to both. Here’s how you can plan a visit to Portofino from Santa Margherita Ligure.
Walking or cycling
For active travelers, the best option might be to walk the path from Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino. The route, about 5km long, offers unforgettable views of the Ligurian Sea and lush Mediterranean vegetation. The route is suitable for almost everyone, but it is good to wear comfortable shoes and carry water and some snacks.
If you prefer a more relaxed option, you can reach Portofino from Santa Margherita Ligure by bus. The ATP line provides regular service between the two locations. The trip takes about 15 minutes, making it a very convenient option for those who prefer to avoid walking.
During the tourist season, it is also possible to reach Portofino from Santa Margherita Ligure by boat. This is undoubtedly the most scenic option, allowing you to fully enjoy the beauty of the Ligurian coastline. The duration of the crossing is about 30 minutes.
Upon arriving in Portofino, you will have the opportunity to explore the picturesque village, with its upscale stores, seafood restaurants on the waterfront, colorful harbor, and frescoed houses. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Church of San Martino and the Brown Castle, and take a walk in Portofino Natural Park.
Remember that the last ferry and bus back to Santa Margherita Ligure leave quite early, so it is advisable to inquire about schedules.
Visiting Portofino from Santa Margherita Ligure is a worthwhile experience. Be prepared to enjoy not only the individual destinations, but also the trip itself, which truly offers some of the most beautiful views of the Ligurian coast.More information
Abbey of San Fruttuoso
San Fruttuoso Abbey is one of the hidden treasures of the Ligurian Riviera, set in a small bay at the foot of the Portofino Promontory. For those staying in Santa Margherita Ligure, a visit to this fascinating abbey is a must. Here’s how to get there and what you’ll find.
San Fruttuoso Abbey can only be reached by sea or through walking trails. You cannot get there by motorized means, which helps to preserve the peaceful and unspoiled atmosphere of the place.
By Boat: During the summer season, there are regular ferries connecting Santa Margherita Ligure with San Fruttuoso. The boat ride is scenic and relaxing, offering breathtaking views of the Ligurian coastline.
WALKING: For hiking enthusiasts, the alternative is a walk through the Portofino Regional Nature Park. The trail is impassable and requires a good level of physical fitness, but it provides wonderful views of the Riviera and Mediterranean vegetation.
Once you reach the bay of San Fruttuoso, you will be confronted with a panorama of rare beauty: the Abbey stands out directly on the beach, its bell tower reflected in the crystal-clear waters of the sea.
The Abbey is a Benedictine monastic complex dating back to the 10th century, and there is an atmosphere of peace and spirituality within its ancient walls. You can visit the church, cloister, and museum, which houses historical artifacts related to monastic life and the history of the abbey.
Not far from the abbey, nestled in the sea, is the Christ of the Abyss, a famous bronze statue that has become a symbol of San Fruttuoso.
After visiting the abbey, you can take advantage of the beach for a refreshing dip or a relaxing picnic.More information
Christ of the Abyss
The Christ of the Abyss is a bronze underwater sculpture found in the waters near the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, between Camogli and Portofino.
This wonderful work of art was sunk in 1954 at a depth of 15 meters as a symbol of protection and blessing for those who venture into the sea.
The statue, which depicts Christ with open arms in a gesture of peace, is a tribute to all divers and sailors who have fallen at sea and has great spiritual and symbolic significance.
Every year, hundreds of divers visit Christ of the Deep, making it one of the most popular dive sites in Italy.
Even for those who do not dive, the statue can be seen during a boat trip thanks to the crystal clear waters of the Ligurian sea.
Beaches of Santa Margherita Ligure
The coast of Santa Margherita Ligure is quite varied: there are several beaches to choose from, truly for all tastes!
Here, as in all of Liguria, you can choose between free beaches and beaches equipped with umbrellas and sunbeds.
Then there are rocky beaches, gravel beaches or sandy beaches. Depending on the area where you travel, you can find more spacious or slightly more intimate beaches.
If yours is a quick visit however you will find most of the beaches near the center, in an area called “Ghaia”.
Near Santa Margherita Ligure there is one of the most beautiful beaches in Liguria : La Baia di Paraggi.
The bay is actually a small natural harbor with beaches with very fine sand and a seabed rich in corals, starfish and many other suggestive creatures of flora and fauna, which make it a perfect place for diving.
Where sleeping in Santa Margherita Ligure
There is no shortage of places to sleep in Santa Margherita Ligure. 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 Santa Margherita
If you want to get to Santa Margherita Ligure, there are several options available to you. If you travel by car, you can reach the city via the A12 (E80) Genoa-Livorno highway, exiting at Rapallo and continuing on the SS1 for a few kilometers.
If you prefer to travel by train, Santa Margherita Ligure is well connected to major Italian cities. The Santa Margherita Ligure-Portofino train station offers direct services to and from Genoa, Milan, Pisa, and other locations.
In addition, during the summer months, many shipping companies offer ferry services from Genoa, Camogli, Rapallo and other cities along the Ligurian Riviera.
Finally, for international travelers, the nearest airport is Genoa Airport, about 45 kilometers away.
ACCOMMODATION IN SANTA MARGHERITA
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