This is a small, fishermen town that is located in the eastern Liguria. Its old town is situated on the top of a very picturesque peninsula and it is surrounded by two beautiful bays. Sestri Levante is also called “the town of the two seas”. It is so because when you are on the peninsula it seems to see two different seas. In the town is a panoramic point where you can prove this illusion. Below I explain to you how to reach this point 🙂
How to reach Sestri Levante?
- by car
– motorway A12 – you exit with Sestri Levante motorway exit. Then you follow the road signs to the town centre and you’ll reach it in less than 5 minutes. More info here.
– SS1 Aurelia – state road. If you arrive in Sestri Levante from the western side this road offers stunning views of the Ligurian shore. If you arrive from the eastern side there are many tunnels and you can’t admire anything…. !!!WARNING!!! During summer season this road is often very congested.
- by train – Sestri Levante has a quite important railway station. Here stop all types of trains (Intercity and Regionale). The railway station is located not very far away from the old town. More info here.
Sestri Levante has its origins as an ancient maritime and merchant centre. In Roman times it was known as Segeste. At the beginning of the XI century, Segeste was fighting against Genoa and Pisa. In the XII century became a part of the Republic of Genoa. In the XV century, even the Republic of Venice tried to conquer it (!). Then arrived Napoleon’s period and after it a domination of the Kingdom of Sardinia. At the end in 1861, Sestri Levante became a part of United Italy.
When you arrive in Sestri (local people abbreviate its name in this way) the first place you see will be Corso Colombo. This is the main street of the town and it leads you to its old town. When you continue the street becomes via 25 Aprile a pedestrian area. During the summer season, it is always very congested, especially during evenings. Here you find all kind of shops, bars and restaurants.
The most characteristic things here are the marble and slate portals. They were constructed in the XV century.
After a half of the street, you will see side streets that lead on the right and on the left. It means that you are already on the peninsula.
Penisula of Sestri Levante encloses from the eastern side the Gulf of Tigullio. On the opposite side, you find Portofino that encloses the Gulf from the western side. Originally Sestri was a small island with a promontory. Later it was connected to the mainland. Nowadays the peninsula is surrounded by two bays. On the west a wide Baia delle Favole (Bay of the Fables) and on the east a silent and romantic Baia del Silenzio (Bay of Silence).
Baia delle Favole (Bay of the Fables)
The bay is a part of the Gulf of Tigullio. From here you can see Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Chiavari and Lavagna. This bay offers numerous public and private beaches. And they are sandy! It is very unusual in this part of Liguria. If you don’t like stone beaches Sestri will be a perfect place for you!
Baia del Silenzio (Bay of Silence)
On an opposite side of the peninsula, you will find totally different bay. Baia del Silenzio is sandy as Baia delle Favole but it is much smaller than the first one. Nearby houses were built on a border of the beach! What is more, here you can find some lovely bars where you can eat or drink something nice. Almost all beaches are public here, however, there are some zones where deck-chairs are rented.
!!!WARNING!!! If you want to find a place in high season here you have to arrive very early. The bay is very famous and very popular so everybody wants to stay here even for a while.
From the bay, you can go up a small hill in via Cappuccini. There you can reach a small and very picturesque church.
It was built in the XVII century by Capuchin friars. In the XIX century, they left it and the building changed its owners many times. Nowadays it became a church again. Inside you can admire paintings of a local artist Fiasella. However, the most interesting thing about this place is its panorama. From here you can see well both bays. And here you can see why Sestri Levante is called “the town of two seas”.
Then when you come back down you can go again via 25 Aprile. If you continue you will reach a small square Piazza Matteotti. Here is located the biggest church of the town Chiesa Bianca (The White Church). On the left of the church, you can go up via Penisola Levante. It leads you to another hill. On your way, you will see a ruin of St. Katherine Oratory that was destroyed during II World War. When you arrive almost at the top of the hill you will find … another church 😉
Chiesa di San Nicolò (St. Nicolas Church)
It is the oldest church in Sestri Levante. Probably it was built in the XII century and was used as a most important church till the XVII century. Then was built the White Church in Piazza Matteotti and after that, the old church lost its importance. On a square in the front of St.Nicolas Church, you can admire another panoramic view on Sestri Levante and Baia del Silenzio.
In 1833 a 28 years old Hans Christian Andersen came in Liguria. He passed much of his time in Genoa and then he arrived in Sestri Levante. He really adored this town. In that time he rented a room with a view of the bay. After his stay, the bay was called the Bay of the Fables and in 1998 for the first time was organized a new festival. Festival Andersen is a meeting of the best street artist from all over the world.
Every year street theatres come to Sestri Levante and show their performances on the streets of the town. This year the Festival is organized from 8-11 June. You can find its program and more info here. It is a great attraction, especially for children. They become crazy during the festival 😉
Where to sleep in Sestri Levante?
Appartamento della Baia
Actually, there are two flats. One for up to 4 persons and another one up to 6 persons. They are located close to the town centre, the beach and all facilities. They are very well furnished, very modern and clean. Inside you will find everything you need during your holiday at the seaside. Nice choice in Sestri Levante. More about Appartamento della Baia here.
It is a 3* hotel located about 300 meters from the sea. It is very essential but clean and cosy. If you are looking for a simple base to sleep and to visiting the zone, this hotel is perfect for you. Also, the price is more economical than in other hotels in Sestri Levante. More about Hotel Genova here.
Ca’ Du Ale
A B&B that is located about 3 kilometres from the town centre, however, it is comfortably connected with Sestri Levante. The biggest advantage is that you can stay in a tranquil countryside away from the crowds that stay in Riviera. You definitely need a car or at least a bike to go to Sestri Levante. The prices are interesting if you are on budget 🙂 More about Ca’ Du Ale here.
La Pulce Argentata
Modern, holiday house in the centre of Sestri Levante. It is perfect for families with two children or groups of 4 cause it has one double room and two single rooms. Thanks to its position it is close to everything: shops, restaurants, beaches etc. The biggest disadvantages, the flat has no lift and in high season the street below is quite noisy, even during evenings … but you are in the heart of Sestri Levante 😉 More about La Pulce Argentata here.
Well … I believe that Sestri Levante is a fantastic tip for your holiday in Liguria!
4 Replies to “Sestri Levante, the fairytale town of Andersen!”
Great review! Many thanks. It has inspired me to go there. I know Portofino, Rapallo etc, but have never been to Sestri. It is now in my file of places to go in the next 2 years.
Hi Mike! You should definitely see Sestri Levante! You’ll love it 🙂
I learnt a lot from this article, thank you. Am keen to visit now. I have a box of puppets that were passed on to me as a child, they are probably almost 100 years old, and were pqssed onto my mother when she was a xhild, from an uncle who had travelled and brought them back for his much older son years before.
I had wondered about their history, and just now Googled the town. The Hans Christian Andersen connection now gives them significance, re their history and their characters, and there were obviously puppet shows on in the town back then. Their history has now bwwn bought to life. They are small puppets that are held by a wire loop coming out of the heads, and they have ornate plaster heads with stiff
? silk clothes -princes, ladies, etc. So now i can imagine them as characters from Andersen’s fairy tales. Must plan a visit now! (pending funds…)
Thank you for sharing your story, Jenny! It is very fascinating and I hope you will come here soon!!! Cheers, Agata!