Boasting serene beauty and interesting cultural and social activities, Levanto is a great small town for you to visit when exploring the Gulf of La Spezia. This coastal village is surrounded by green hills of pines and olive trees, located within the Mountain Community of the Riviera Spezzina and the Cinque Terre National Park. While Portovenere is considered the perfect starting-point for visiting Cinque Terre from the Gulf of Poets, Levanto provides access from the opposite side of the famous five.
Settlements in and around Levanto have existed since the 9th century during the Roman times. The location was a strategic one as it provided a harbour and the Romans made the most of it. Ceula was the first settlement there. However, as the area began developing, Ceula became less important with Levanto itself rising and pulling commercial weight. Levanto emerged as the key to the area in the 13th century.
Places to See
Built in the early 1200’s, the Church of Sant’Andrea deserves a visit because of its historic appeal, gothic-style architecture and beautiful paintings and sculptures inside. In Piazza del Popolo you can admire the Loggia Comunale, rebuilt in the XVI Century but dating as far back as the XIII century according to historic sources. From the streets you can admire the medieval castle that’s in perfect health but happens to be privately owned. With a stroll in the historic center of Levanto you can explore Via Garibaldi with its Genoese-style buildings, see the façades of lovely churches like Madonna della Costa and Chiesa di San Giorgio, admire the ancient city walls and the Torre dell’Orologio.
Events in Levanto
Levanto hosts a number of cultural events. The most prestigious is the Amfiteatrof Music Festival in honour of the legendary Russian-born Italian cellist and musician Massimo Amfiteatrof. Other events include the Festa di San Giacomo (or Festa del Mare) to celebrate the patron Saint James with a religion procession, flag-throwing and fireworks in July. In May, the Mangialunga gathers about one thousand participants who stop in different hillside villages to taste their products; while in October, the De Gustibus is a gastro-cultural tour in Levanto’s center. A historic curiosity: in 1912, Levanto hosted the International Xylography Exhibition, organized by the innovative magazine L’Eroica. It was important event that gathered the most interesting graphic artists from around Europe and relaunched xylography in Italy in the XX century.
Surfers love the waves that form in the wide gulf of Levanto, which in recent years has become a popular surfing destination in northern Italy. If you like walking in nature, you can choose from many hiking trails in Levanto, such as the ones to Bonassola and to Monterosso. Biking and diving are other popular activities in the area.
What to Eat in Levanto?
Gattafin is a local speciality to try out. It is a kind of fried “raviolo” filled with wild herbs, vegetables, onions and eggs. Other dishes of the Italian Riviera that are great in Levanto include focaccia with olive pulp, double-stuffed anchovies, and the bagnun anchovy soup.
How to Reach Levanto
You can reach Levanto by train, by boat (from La Spezia, Portovenere, Lerici and Cinque Terre), by foot through the walking paths of the Cinque Terre National Park, and by car. Levanto is about one-hour drive away from Portovenere.