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Holidays to Rapallo take you to the beautiful Italian Riviera, also known as Liguria, and offer couples an eclectic mix of inviting beaches and proud historic buildings and museums set on cosy cobbled streets. There are artisan shops and an excellent range of cafés, bars and romantic restaurants, ideal for those wanting to immerse themselves in local cuisine.
Take to the palm lined seafront promenade, the Lungomare Vittorio Veneto, and follow in the footsteps of the brilliant but troubled American poet Ezra Pound. Feel the spirit of his friend Ernest Hemmingway and the many other distinguished figures who visited or called Rapallo home.
Stop and take a moment to admire the pretty Art Nouveau buildings with their distinctive splashes of colour – terracotta, mustard and pink – then linger for a while on one of the many benches and watch the world go past.
At the eastern end of the promenade is the Castello sul Mare – the Castle on the Sea – built in 1550 to defend against pirate attack. This powerful symbol of the city of Rapallo, is used for cultural and artistic events and exhibitions.
One of the great joys of a holiday in Rapallo is the diverse range of things to do and sights to see.
At the western end of the Vittorio Veneto, venture through the Saline Gate, one of the few remaining signs that Rapallo was once a walled community, to discover the historic centre of the city with its pedestrian shopping streets and thought provoking reminders of a time long gone.
One of these potent reminders is the Ponte di Annibale, the ancient one arch bridge which today crosses the Rapallo to Portofino road. Take the cable car to the hilltop Sanctuary of Our lady Montallegro and feel the wind in your face while you take in the staggeringly beautiful view over the Gulf of Tigullio. Built in 1558 to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin Mary to a local farmer and renovated in 1896, the interior is a rich mix of gold and marble with Barbino decorative frescos providing an added touch of sophistication.
The beauty of a holiday in Rapallo is that it can be almost anything you want it to be because there are so many things to do. It could be relaxing on the beach, lacing up your walking shoes and taking to the hill paths above the town or the nooks and crannies of the Centro Storico. In contrast, when the sun goes down, enjoy the after-dinner entertainment on offer at the town’s hotels and bars or during the summer months go along to some of the concerts and festivals.
Build your holiday beyond Rapallo and take the 20 minute train journey to Genoa, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and the regional capital of Liguria. Once one of the most powerful maritime republics, today’s city has much to offer. Start your visit at its grandest street, the Via Garibaldi, which is home of 42 palaces listed as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In complete contrast explore the tightly packed historic centre and its maze of narrow streets - many of which lie within the original 9th Century city walls.
Unsurprisingly seafood is a speciality in Rapallo and the wider Liguria region but the star of the show is its authentic Italian pizza.
Liguria has its own version of the traditional pizza, called the Sardenaira or Pizza all’Andrea, perhaps more of a focaccia than a pizza. The beauty of the dish is its simplicity of preparation and cooking. It’s made with bread, spread with olive oil, garlic and salty anchovies and, as its name suggests, garnished with sardines. Some like to add tomatoes but that often attracts some criticism from traditionalists. It’s a great street food snack and you’ll also find it served in cafés and restaurants.
Pansoti and Trofie are different kinds of pasta which have a Ligurian history. Many of the local restaurants will feature them on their menu. The beauty of pasta is its versatility but it’s not uncommon to find Trofie served with seafood. Almost anything would be fine, but mussels, octopus and clams are particularly popular.
Pansoti pasta has traditionally been stuffed with creamy ricotta and garnished with herbs. It’s usually served with a walnut sauce made from walnuts, olive oil, bread crumbs marjoram and garlic and is ideal for an indulgent evening.