Riviera di Levante, Italy
The Riviera di Levante is a sea-facing stretch of winding roads on rugged hillsides, rocky coves and hidden beaches. Belle Epoque seaside towns dot the shores, and have attracted literary luminaries over the decades: DH Lawrence, Ezra Pound and Friedrich Nietzsche have all called by to revel in the warmth. Bordered by Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and France, this is the elite’s holiday playground, where you can’t move for super-size sunglasses. Fishing villages have been given a glamorous makeover: expensive Portofino, Camogli and Santa Margherita Ligure all attract a well-heeled crowd come summer. Get away from it all up in the mountains, where the views of the shiny sea come with the scent of olives, lemons and pines.
When to go
The jetset settles in for July and August, when the area’s at its busiest. It’s warm from April until October, so avoid the crowds accordingly. A lot of shops and restaurants shut between November and February.
PlanesThe region’s main airport is Genoa, served by both Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) and British Airways (www.ba.com). There are plenty of car-hire desks.
BoatsTour the coast the traditional way and go by boat: Trasporti Marittimi Golfo Paradiso (www.golfoparadiso.it) runs a ferry service from Camogli to the nearby hamlets of Punta Chiappa and San Fruttuoso, and from mid-June until mid-September, excursions to the Cinque Terre, Portovenere and Gulf of Tigullio.
TrainsFrom Genoa, direct trains go to Camogli and other towns; see Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com) for details.
AutomobilesThese bendy coastal roads are made for cruising along, so get yourself some wheels, preferably vintage ones, and just beware of the bends.
TaxisAll of the busy seaside towns (Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, Camogli) will have taxi ranks; otherwise, order one: in Camogli, try Taxi Autopubbliche (+39 0185 771143).