Liguria - Places to Visit - Sestri Levante
Population: 19778 Surface km : 34 Height: 10
The isthmus between the Baia delle Favole (Bay of Fables) and the Baia del Silenzio (Bay of Silence) is one of the most beautiful parts of Liguria and is the original nucleus of ancient "Segesta Tigullorium", a centre of primary importance for the Eastern Riviera.
The area has many natural advantages: it is easily reached by sea and stands at the end of a vast alluvial plain and at the beginning of some important communications routes with the hinterland: leaving from Sestri, it is quite easy to reach the passes of Monte Bracco (613 m.) and Colle di Velva (545 m.).
The "island" between the two bays was once a real island: the isthmus was formed by the accumulation of detritus from the River Gromolo.
This was the first settled area, where you can find the twelfth-century church of San Nicol and the remains of the fortification built by the Genoese, which was taken into the eclectic Castello Gualino in 1925 and is today a hotel: Guglielmo Marconi carried out some important experiments in one of its towers.
Other historical buildings have been transformed into large hotels, such as the large villas with parks in the town and on the hills.
Villa Negrotto Cambiaso is today a conference centre, while Villa Durazzo Pallavicino is now the town hall; sumptuous Villa Balbi has been a hotel since 1947.
The town is also embellished by the eighteenth-century Basilica of Santa Maria di Nazareth, with its neoclassical pronaos: inside you can admire a valuable painting by Domenico Fiasella.
The church of San Pietro in Vincoli holds a wooden group by Antonio Maria Maragliano representing the martyrdom of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria. Also of remarkable interest is the private collection of drawings and prints in the Galleria Rizzi.
It is well worth making an excursion to Punta Manara, Punta Baffe and Monte Castello, which lie in the midst of Mediterranean maquis vegetation, the municipal district of Santa Vittoria di Libiola with its ancient iron mines, and the ancient parish church of Santo Stefano al Ponte: these itineraries offer beautiful panoramic views and are also suitable for mountain bikers. Near the tunnels on the way to Moneglia there is a rock-face gymnasium.
Sestri Levante was the birthplace of the poet Giovanni Descalzo and the critic and essay-writer Carlo Bo. The Bay of Wonders was given its name by Hans Christian Andersen: Sestri awards an annual prize for children's literature in his name.