Rapallo happened incidentally and Im so so glad it did..Providence 😃
Now after having been there, Id strongly suggest it as an add on to a North Italy / Italian Riviera trip. (Perfect to combine with Cinque Terre / Lake Garda and make it into a 10-12 day Italian holiday).
Its easy driving distance (2.5hrs) or a short train ride from Milan and Florence..Unless you’re constrained with a lot of luggage or are with seniors etc… (I had both); take the train.. Overall – the parking woes make public transport easier..
You know that feeling you get sometimes and you think “Gosh, I wish I could move here”. Its that kind of place..
Day 1 of the vacation – the heart’s soaring, mind’s clear of everything.. Just pure bliss…Sounds almost holistic, no? 😃 😍
The people are fabulous and really friendly. The food is amaazzzing – natural, fresh and full of simple, clean flavours. Of the top 3 meals of this 16 day vacay, 2 were whilst we were in and around Rapallo..
Never had better Pesto….Ever.
And its grrreeattt value for money in every aspect.
Possibly not as much on the tourist radar as its better known neighbours – Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure (and maybe that’s a blessing); but with so much more character than either one of them.
So what did we do once we were there; and what is it that I fell in love with??
A day trip to San Fruttuoso is a total mussssttt do. Go prepared with your beach gear, swim wear and sun block. There s very few places where I ve seen clearer, bluer waters or prettier skies 😍 .
I thought the only way to go is by boat (or you swim 😉 ), but I believe the 4 ½ hour trek is beautiful. Though only for those that have the passion for it..At 34 ° and the sun gleaming at its brightest, the ferry was good enough for us 😅 .
25 people, 6 houses and 3 restaurants – that’s pretty much what makes up this tiny village. A loooottttt of steps..bear in mind if you have seniors or strollers with you.
Its in San Fruttuoso that we ve had THE best meal of this trip! Simple, fresh and packed with flavour…But at € 122/- for a Salad, 2 Pastas, Calamari Fritti and 2 ice-creams…also the most expensive 🙂 . The next time around, Id probably pack some sandwiches and Cokes 😉 .
‘Affogato’ – our this summer’s top ‘love at first taste’..Just vanilla ice cream and expresso- yumm..
Next, the obligatory stop at Portofino. Its tiny– and how! Just the small seaside promenade that’s lined with shops (with price tags starting at €€€ only) and over-priced restaurants and cafes. Oh and a couple of models sashaying about promoting a local store’s ‘resort wear’ – Im not kidding 😂 .
Portofino’s very pretty of course, but I remember wondering what all the hype was about…Underwhelming ☹
The first town I’ve been to where the Balenciaga and Rolex stores are pretty much the first things you see on reaching by boat 😂
Our other day trip, Santa Margherita Ligure was definitely prettier, nicer and with a lot more character (coming from Portofino’s ‘movie set’ feel and size).
The ‘Centro’ starts just 20 metres from the sea-face and the streets are lined with the typically cute boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
The ferry to San Fruttuoso is in fact from SML and stops enroute in Portofino, both whilst going or coming back. So you could do all 3 stops on the same day…Just look up the schedule to make sure you don’t miss the last one back 😉
Its a gorgeous walk too from SML to Rapallo or vice versa..Especially at sunset..a 45 minutes easy stroll..
Please do not bother with a day trip to Genoa..You ll come across scores of options suggesting this.. Honestly just don’t.
And apart from that…well just get into ‘Italian weekend mode’..Breakfast at any of the adorable cafes, then a mid morning cappuccino, stroll some –shop some…
Laze on the beach post lunch (coz its genuinely too hot earlier in the day. So much nicer post 5, especially as the sun doesn’t set till 9pm or later).
Zoagli and Carnogli are two other, adorable and small beaches not far from Rapallo. In fact from Carnogli, 5 minutes by boat takes you to Punta Chiappa – an adorable tiny fishermen’s cove, with some lovely restaurants and fab views..
The evenings are for wine and ‘aperitivos’ and then on to dinner..Enoteca Castello is lovely. And our dinners at Bagni Aryston and Ristorante Foccaccia – both Id very happily redo. Especially Aryston’s vegetarian options (don’t go by the online reviews).
…..The small lanes leading up to the Basilica are really charming. Perfect for spending an evening strolling about and for some good food and wines..(and some shopping thrown in)..
Oh – the day can’t be over without a stroll alongside Rapallo s seaside promenade – its reallllyyy pretty.
We had 3 days in Rapallo, which was just about ideal..
So you’re thinking what s different then from other pretty little Italian towns, right? I can’t put my finger on it – but there s something special about Rapallo.
If you’ve managed a good parking spot, once in Rapallo, don’t move the car for the days that you re there..Its a 15 minute bus ride to Santa Margharita Ligure (or the lovely walk alongside the seaface). Getting to Zoagli or Carnogli is also easy…as it is also to Cinque Terre.
We stayed in Via Venezia (Riccardo many hugs again – lovely apartment, fabulous host.. again thanks to Airbnb). Its the main thoroughfare..lined with cafes, bakeries and bars. We had the local weekly market (on Saturday) just below our window..And the sea-face, train station and bus stop – just a 100 mtrs away.