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Several stops along the train line from Sestri Levante is Rapallo. It’s the first of the coastal towns worth visiting on the train line and is just across the bay from Portofino. This is another place where the Italians go on holiday and rarely do you see a Brit here – just Italian families with their children and dogs.
It is a city that perfectly fuses history, art and beautiful natural scenery
The 16th-century Castello Sul Mare (Castle-on-the-Sea) is Rapallo’s most prominent landmark, sitting at the eastern end of the promenade on the Lungomare. It was built to protect Rapallo from pirate invasions. Later it became a prison but is now a venue for exhibitions. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open when we visited so we could only photograph it from outside. The modern marina with lots of very expensive large yachts is located at the other end of the promenade.
The lovely wide seafront promenade is shaded with palm trees and lined with very attractive and elegant buildings, hotels and plenty of restaurants and shops which were full of life when we visited (It was a bank holiday weekend and a lovely sunny day). The street musicians made it a really lively and enjoyable experience.
There is an attractive bandstand (Chiosco Della Musica) in a small square just across from the waterfront which is fascinating – inside its domed roof, the ceiling is decorated with paintings of typical gods and goddesses of Italian myths and legends, all swirling round in a blue heaven. Concerts often take place here in the evenings. We sat and drank coffee in a nearby restaurant watching some youngsters practising their breakdancing inside it.
After coffee and a relaxing hour people watching we crossed from the bandstand to the small tourist train and decided to do a tour of the town for 3 euros each. It was well worth it and took us a good distance around Rapallo.
We passed an interesting old bridge which dating to early Roman times. The bridge itself is gated off so you cannot cross. You can walk to either end via small alleys on either side. There is a historical marker on one end in the alley. It’s definitely worth a quick stop.
Just behind the seafront promenade is the historic town centre with narrow streets, old buildings and a lovely assortment of shops.
The day we arrived the red carpet had just been laid which stretches from the Rapallo Castle to the Portofino Square. They hold the record with the Guinness book of records for the longest 8.5km red carpet for the “Walk of Spring”, organized by the Liguria Region with the towns of Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino. This is to celebrate the arrival of the “beautiful season”.
How to get to Rapallo
Rapallo is a municipality in the province of Genoa, in Liguria, northern Italy.
Genoa is the nearest airport 34 min (27.4 km) via A12/E80
The average train journey time from Genoa to Rapallo is 40 minutes and the fastest journey time is 26 minutes. The distance is 26km
The minimum price of a train ticket is €7.9. It is cheaper to book your tickets as early as possible to get the best price. Book tickets and see the timetable here.
Distance between Sestri Levante and Rapallo is 16 kilometers (10 miles).
Driving distance from Sestri Levante to Rapallo is 26 kilometres (16 miles).
Accommodation in Rapallo
The hotel is right on the waterfront so has lovely views of the bay. It’s very convenient for the boat trips and walking around the coast to Portofino as well as walking in the town. It’s just 5 minutes from the station where you can get to Camogli, Sestri Levante, Cinque Terre, and other smaller coastal towns. It’s a clean, comfortable hotel with friendly staff
Fossa Lupara, Sestri Levante
GPS: N44°16’25” E9°25’21”
We stay at Fossa Lupara and then travel from there by train to Rapallo. The campsite offers a taxi service to and from the station.