How to reach Santa Margherita Ligure?
• by train (the railway station is Santa Margherita Ligure-Portofino; a ticket from Genova Brignole [ the main railway station of Genoa] regional train costs 3.40 € and an intercity train costs 8,00 €; more details on http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en)
• by car:
✓ motorway A12 ( Rapallo motorway exit and then follow the signs to Santa Margherita; more details: https://www.autostrade.it/autostrade_en-gis/percorso.do)
✓ Aurelia SS1, a state road (much more scenic than motorway with really breathless views!)
Santa Margherita Ligure is a charming resort in eastern Liguria. It has mild climate, lovely, colourful tenement houses and energetic nightlife (numerous discos and clubs). All these things make this place one of the most popular and famous towns of this region.
Things to do & see :
While strolling the town centre you are going to reach the main city square Piazza Caprera where you will find:
Santuario di Nostra Signora della Rosa (Basilica of St. Mary with a Rose)
The present building was built in 1658 on the remains of an XIII century church. The legend says that after the demolition of the original church building, under its pavement was found a huge tank with water, aromatised with Saint Mary’s roses…
The church is worth seeing because of the medieval Mary with a Rose sculpture, which is exposed in the central altar of the church. The statue is very old, was brought in XIII century by the local sailors to protect the city. According to the inhabitants of Santa Margherita Ligure, that sculpture is very special and can make the miracles. It is believed that Mary with a Rose (Signora della Rosa) can heal sick people, especially children.
When you continue walking through Piazza Martiri della Libertà you are going to find :
address: Piazzale San Giacomo 3
It was built in 1550 to protect the town from the attacks of North African pirates. The castle defended the town till XVIII century. In the following centuries completely lost its importance and became a ruin. It was restored after World War II and nowadays it is a house of the exhibitions of the local artists.
Above the Castle, you can find a beautiful Villa Durazzo Centurione:
Villa Durazzo – Centurione
address: Piazzale San Giacomo 3
from 9.00 am – 1.00 pm and from 2.30 pm – 6.30 pm (during low season it closes at 5 pm)
Entry: adults € 5.50; children 6-12 years 3.00 €
Visiting park is free of charge
Villa Durazzo-Centurione complex consists of two patrician Villas, XVI century castle and XVII century park. The Villa was built on a hill in 1678, by Marquis Durazzo, who used it as a summer residence. In the XVIII century, it was purchased by the Prince family Centurione (hence the double name of Villa) who enlarged and enriched a new park with exotic plants and marble sculptures. At the end of the XIX century, the Villa was sold again and became a seat of the Grand Hotel. After World War II, in 1973 it was bought by a municipality of Santa Margherita Ligure and since then is the place of the exhibitions and local cultural events. Inside it is possible to visit the Prince apartments and a museum dedicated to a local writer Giovanni Rossi. The park has an Italian-style garden with typical Ligurian paths made of black and white pebbles called risseu.
In 2007 in the Villa Rod Stewart married Penny Lancaster.
Another place which is worth visiting is the fish market:
Mercato del Pesce (Fish Market)
address: via Marconi 6
From 8.00 am – 1.00 pm and from 4.00 pm – 8.00 pm
The biggest attraction of this market is, of course, the possibility to buy fresh, local fish or seafood directly from the fishermen! But even if you don’t buy anything it will be an exciting experience anyway.
Gamberi Rossi (Red Shrimps)
After sightseeing, you will probably get hungry! Let’s eat something! There is a speciality you should absolutely try in Santa Margherita Ligure … the red shrimps (GAMBERI ROSSI). First of all, because of their delicate, unique taste but also because you are in Santa Margherita Ligure which is famous for them!
It is easy to find a restaurant with typical and fresh fish or seafood (thanks to the fish market). You should only pay attention to the prices because Santa Margherita Ligure is a quite expensive place. But if you check the menu list before enter the local (it must be exposed outside the restaurant) you will avoid any unpleasant surprises.
An alternative to the restaurants (if you don’t want to spend too much) and pizza, you can try the GASTRONOMIE. These are the shops where ready-meals are sold. Usually, they have the tables where you can sit down and eat. They have a kind of showcase where you can choose what you want to eat (hot or cold dishes). The advantages of these places are their prices (much lower than in the restaurants) and that the food is always fresh and typical. A disadvantage is that there are no waiters! So you have to handle yourself, cover the table (“cutlery” is usually made of plastic), bring the dishes and after the meal, you should gather the plates from the table. Like at home 🙂
Another low-cost alternative could be a bakery (PANIFICIO) where you should absolutely try … FOCACCIA! You don’t spend much and you will try something typical for Liguria …. and you will be satisfied 😉
And after eating you’ll need a little bit of relax! … and the best place to rest will be an Italian beach!
In Santa Margherita Ligure you can find a wide choice of public and private beaches. One day on a private beach costs about € 30 per day and provides entrance to the beach and rent of a deck chair and a sun umbrella.
Surprisingly the public beaches are also well equipped. They have showers, changing rooms and very often you can rent a deck chairs and sun umbrella as well (prices per day: € 5.00 for sun umbrella and € 10.00 for deck chair).
Where to sleep in Santa Margherita Ligure?
Plan Sea B&B
A charming B&B located in the centre of the town and 2 min walk from the beach. The rooms are clean and spacious. The breakfast is various and includes sweet and salty. The hosts are extremally welcoming and make you feel really great in their B&B. More about Plan Sea B&B here.
Hotel Blu di Te
I think that is the best-furniture hotel in Santa Margherita Ligure (and for me, the most beautiful in whole eastern Liguria). The hosts are super kind and helpful. The breakfast is extremally rich and delicious. Definitely, the place to be. It is located in a very tranquil zone but at the same time very close to the town centre and the sea. More about Hotel Blu di Te here.
Appartamenti un Mondo per Te
Holiday houses located very close to the beach os Santa Margherita Ligure. Recently restructured, are very modern and clean. The owners offer different sizes of flats (for 4 to 6 persons) with kitchens and bathrooms. Hosts extremally helpful. More about Appartamenti un Mondo per Te here.
If you are not on a budget and you would like to have a room with a sea view this is a choice for you. It is one of the historical, most famous and glamour hotels of Santa Margherita Ligure. Located on a hill, 5 minutes walk from Santa Margherita Ligure centre. It is a 4* hotel that has its private beach, gym, spa and restaurant. More about Hotel Continental here.
Finally, if you prefer to explore Liguria I urge you to visit the nearby Portofino, about I write here.