The coast east of Genoa, dubbed the Riviera di Levante (Coast of the Sunrise), is more varied and beautiful than its counterpart to the west, though not always the ideal destination for a get-away-from-it-all holiday. Its picturesque series of towns and villages that once eked out a living from fishing and coral diving have been transformed by decades of tourism. Still, it’s a glorious and rugged stretch of coast, its cliffs and bays covered with pine and olive trees and plenty of appealing resorts. The footpaths crisscrossing the headland that stretches to the upmarket resort of Portofino are a great way to get off the beaten track, and the harbour towns on each side – Camogli towards Genoa and Santa Margherita in the Golfo di Tigullio – are well worth a visit. Other highlights include big, feisty resorts like Rapallo, and smaller, quieter places like Sestri Levante. Further east, the main road (though not the railway) heads inland, bypassing the laidback beach town of Levanto and the spectacular Cinque Terre coast (now a national park and great, organized walking country). The road joins the train line again at the naval port of La Spezia, a short stop from the alluring towns of Portovenere and Lerici (the latter almost in Tuscany) on either side of the Golfo dei Poeti.

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