The coast east of Genoa, dubbed the Riviera di Levante, is perhaps more varied and beautiful than its counterpart to the west, but also not the place to come for a get-away-from-it-all holiday, with a series of towns and villages that once eked a living from fishing and coral diving but have been transformed by thirty years of tourism. That said, it’s a glorious and rugged stretch of coast, its cliffs and bays covered with pine and olive trees, and with a number of very appealing resorts. The footpaths that crisscross the headland of Monte di Portofino are a great way to get off the beaten tourist track, and the harbour towns each side – Camogli towards Genoa and Santa Margherita in the Golfo di Tigullio – are well worth a visit; and of course Portofino itself is an upscale resort of some renown. Other highlights include big, feisty resorts like Rapallo, and smaller, quieter places like Sestri Levante, while 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, at the head of the Golfo dei Poeti, on either side of which Portovenere and Lerici (the latter almost in Tuscany) are very enticing spots.

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