Riviera Ponente or Riviera Levante?

Dec 17th, 2012, 04:11 PM
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Riviera Ponente or Riviera Levante?

We are well over 60 (my husband is 80) and plan to be in Liguria for eight days in April of next year (God willing).

Since our travellng days are coming to a close, and because my husband still insists on driving, we stop at least two nights, rather than moving on each day since it is easier on the system. Moreover, the driving times are short -- no more, generally, than one hour a day which makes for a very limited itinerary.

If we were to go to the Riviera Levante, we propose to arrive via train from Cannes to Genoa. If we go to the Riviera Ponente we propose to drive as far as we can before we need to return to Nice for our flight home.

Since we find it unlikely, given our travel constraints, to see the entire coast, which section would you suggest?
pancho_cisco is offline  
Dec 17th, 2012, 07:26 PM
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From Genoa I would head to either Camogli or Santa Margherita for your base location. Another good option is Sestri Levante. That region can easily take 5 days to see well.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 01:14 AM
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I agree with Bob. Camogli is the prettiest town on that stretch of coastline if verticality is not a problem for you. I would give Genoa at least a day. I am not sure which paths are open now, but a fit 80 year old could easily do the Via Amore.
tarquin is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 07:43 AM
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Since you are only traveling for 8 days and you must go back to Nice, and since you have a car, and since you must are traveling in April, I highly recommend that you stay on the Riviera Ponente. You will find it much easier to drive and park, you will find the weather is mildly better than on the Riviera Levante, and returning to Nice will be much more relaxing. It also happens to be cheaper and with generally pleasant walking instead of vertical cliffs.

If you are coming from Nice with a car and do not want to drive more than an one hour per day, make your first port of call the lovely town of Bordighera, beloved by Monet. In spring, if the weather is nice, you might enjoy visiting the Hanbury Gardens there. You certainly don't want to miss taking a peak at the Hotel Angst. You can also visit the nearby wine town of Dolceacqua, or the separate country of Seborga.

For a second spot, Google up pictures and information about medieval Albenga and its important mosaics. If you feel you have time for a third stop, Noli or Finale Ligure Varigotti or Albisola Marina have lovely features and attractions (and restaurants). Just be aware that the closer you get to Genova, the more you add to the time it will take you to drive back to Nice. At some point, you will exceed your one-hour maximum.

All in all you will get a truer picture of the Italian Riviera as enjoyed by Italians, and find it far less relaxing thatn heading to the Riviera Levante and dealing with its steep mountain roads and paths, its overpriced restaurants and tourist crowds (and absence of anything to do if it rains).

There is a lot of information online about the Riviera Ponente and its various towns and their attractions (an olive oil museum in Oneglia, the stunning town of Cervo). If you are traveling by car for a week, the book "Food & Wine of the Italian Riviera and Genoa" is an excellent guide to authentic inexpensive restaurants, and has lots of information about the charming towns. So does the Cadogan Guide to the Italian Riviera.
goldenautumn is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 08:38 AM
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I see that godenautumn joined the Forum just to answer this question---and seems quite knowledgable. Welcome---tell us more about yourself.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 09:08 AM
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On our return to Nice, this past summer, we stayed in charming Noli on the Riviera Ponente. It has a very nice beach promenade and an interesting medieval quarter. Our hotel was the Palazzo Vescovile, the former Bishop's residence( during the years 1200-1800.) The restaurant at the hotel has a Michelin star and overlooks the water. Fabulous dining!
I agree with bobthenavigator to also visit Santa Margherita Ligure or Camogli. We've stayed in SML twice and enjoyed it.
Portovenere is also lovely. These are on the Riviera Levante.
Find a recent trip report with photos on this Forum by French Mystique Tours focusing on the Riviera Ponente where his sister lives. It will be very helpful. It has photos of Noli near the end.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 03:05 PM
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Thank you all very uch.

Mele Kalikimaka and Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
pancho_cisco is offline  
Dec 18th, 2012, 08:57 PM
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Interestingly enough I recently posted a trip report here on Fodors about a vacation I spent exploring the Riviera west of Genoa called the Riviera delle Palme. The report has photos and descriptions of of all the places I visited such as Varazze, Celle Ligure, Noli, Varigotti, Finalborgo, Final Ligure, Verezzi, Toirano, Balestrino, Castelvecchio, Zuccarello, the Manie Plateau and some other places. This general area is just under a 2 hour drive from Nice.

This area doesn't attract nearly the attention of the more famous stretch of Riviera east of Genoa to Cinque Terre but is really no less worthy of exploration. Much cheaper than the Cinque Terre area and only a fraction of the crowds. Many of the villages I visited are on Italy's most beautiful village list and they're in very close proximity to one another and thus easily explorable.

The first part of my report mostly documents time I spent on my brother in-law's farm so you can scroll down halfway through the report to see all the villages. At the end of the report I've included links to all the major tourist office websites for this part of the Riviera (in English) which have all the info you'd need to plan a vacation here. Here is the link to my report if you want to have a look:

FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 01:21 AM
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pancho cisco,

I stick by my advice of the Riviera Ponente, for the reasons others have no chimed in on as well as ease of logistics. But if you end up deciding on the more distant Riviera Levante, you should take the train all the way to Rapallo and pick up your car there. It is the town next to Santa Margherita Ligure. Rapallo is also a nice town with nice boat connections to Portofino.

Most people would skip the car, but I think you will find that in many towns along the Riviera Levante it is difficult to get on and off the train because of the gap between the platform and the train carrieage.

If you don't return the car in Rapallo (which I would recommend), you can drive it back to Ventimiglia and take the train from there to Italy.

Mālama pono!
goldenautumn is offline  

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