A guardarlo dalle nostre colline, il mediterraneo sale all’orizzonte come un immenso edificio di luce. Fa sognare partenze, voli supremi. A volte è bianco e fa l’effetto di una nuvola; più spesso è di un azzurro che sconfina; se il vento lo ghermisce, appare solcato di cammini, specie di sera. (Francesco Biamonti)
Deiva Marina is a seaside resort with a thousand treasures, strategically located in the Ligurian Riviera, at the same distance from Genoa and La Spezia, obtaining a lot from both in terms of beauty of the territories. It’s the westernmost of the municipalities of La Spezia, located at only fifty kilometers from Genoa and La Spezia.
It borders to the north with the municipality of Castiglione Chiavarese, to the south with the Ligurian Sea which softens the coast, to the west, with Moneglia and to the east with Carro, Carrodano and Framura which dive into the woods of scented pine groves.
Deiva Marina is part of a fairytale landscape which goes from Genoa to the enchanting Versilia, it includes Portofino, the Cinque Terre and the Gulf of Poets, leaving Deiva Marina, going west past Moneglia, first you reach the town of Riva Trigoso and then Sestri Levante, with its two beautiful bays, the Bay of Silence and the Fairytale Bay.
Deiva is situated in the valley of two streams, Castagnola and the Deiva from which the town inherited the name. The town is divided in two, the modern area is along the coast and the old area, the heart of the historical centre is located behind, on the river bank of the stream Deiva, once used as a long road connecting the town with other coastal and inland towns.
Deiva Marina is well known and appreciated for its clean sea, it can be discovered little by little, thanks to the magical atmosphere that surrounds the village of San Fruttuoso, with its tenth-century abbey, on the east and to the east the Vara Valley, with its medioeval villages, but above all acting as a spur to the Cinque Terre, the five Ligurian villages built on the hills, overlooking the sea.
Deiva Marina is reacheable through to use the road that was once a railway tunnel, however it is a one-way road, regulated by a traffic light with a countdown.
This road has charming views of the coast, that definitely slow down your arrival but, the beautiful and typical views are ideal for those who wants to get into the spirit of a seaside town.
Here below the traffic light sequence:
- From Riva Trigoso to Moneglia: green light at 00:15, 00:35 and 00:55 every hour;
- From Moneglia to Deiva Marina: green light at 00:05 minutes, 00:15, 00:25, 00:35, 00:45 and 00:55, every hour;
- From Deiva Marina Moneglia: green light 00:10, 00:20, 00:30, 00:40, 00:50 every hour;
- Finally, from Moneglia to Riva Trigoso: green light at 00:05, 00:25 and 00:45 every hour.
A bit of history...
The first settlements on the hills of Deiva Marina, date back to the eighth century, where there are now the villages of Mezzema, Piazza, Passano and Caraschi. Only later the population started moving towards the coast, where they built the real Deiva by the sea, approximately around the eleventh century, taking advantage of the wealthy trades. The name was changed adding the adjective “Marina”, for its position close to the very blue Ligurian sea.
The entire area was for a long period a local feud of the Marquis Da Passano, the same family who built the castle. Deiva, ruled by the Da Passano family, sworn its allegiance to the Republic of Genoa, which also included the village of Mezzema, part of the area of Moneglia, instead Piazza and Passano, are part of Framura area; since 1680 the territory became part of the area of Moneglia within the Captaincy of Levanto.
Genova granted the funds to build the two towers near the Marina, one has a round shape and the other one is square, the latter is situated near the parish church of St. Anthony abbot.
In 1797, under the French dominion of Napoleon Bonaparte, Deiva Marina was part of the Department of Vara, with Levanto as an administrative centre of the Ligurian Republic, part of the First French Empire, and later in the seventh canton, it became the administrative centre of Mesco Jurisdiction.
In 1815 Deiva became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia, according to the decisions taken by the Congress of Vienna in 1814, and later as part of Kingdom of Italy since 1861.
During the Italian Risorgimento, the small town is remembered for the friendship of the deputy Bollo with Cavour, but also for another friendship, Giuseppe Garibaldi and the young boatswain Luigi Cariglia, who according to the chronicles, saved his life when, during a skirmish in Rio de la Plata, Garibaldi was shot.
Since the end of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the small town rediscoved a thriving economy based on tourism facilities, letting the European aristocracy enjoy the beauties of its orchards and gardens, or the long and wide beach, as well as food and wine prepared in the small restaurants run by families, which have now been converted into agritourims and social co-operatives.
During the period of the World war conflicts, the actual train station was opened, the settlement expanded far beyond its hills, mainly terraced, to create olive groves, especially towards Moneglia.
The east Riviera that surrounds the place has a high and steep rocky coastline, with small pretty coves and semi-submerged caves, separated by narrow promontories.
The blooming Mediterranean maquis, covers the whole area, with the haughty breeze coming from the west and a reinvigorating climate, among strawberry-tree bushes and pine woods overlooking the Val di Vara, we find an extraordinary variety of local vegetation and animal species.
The area around Deiva shows a vegetation with maritime pine trees and different varieties of broom, myrtle, holm oak trees and the “scents ” of aromatic plants such as thyme, borage, strawberry grass and rosemary.
However, on the east side, you will rarely come across sandy areas suitable for prolonged sunbathing, but in Deiva Marina there is the advantage of a strand beach that attracts hundreds of tourists every year. It is a long and narrow beach, very well exposed and sheltered from the winds, hidden between two big rocks.
From the shore going up, you will bump into the so-called creuze woods and foot paths, that are part of Natural Park “Monte- Serro- Punta Mesco”, the village is part of it. Moving towards the Cinque Terre, just round the corner, the terraced vineyards, from which a sweet wine called “Sciacchetrà ” is obtained, it will fill our eyes with lively colours such as gold.
The municipalities of Carro and Carrodano, are at a short distance and rely on the bond of landscapes of the Natural Regional Park of Montemarcello-Magra, with its shades of Aleppo pine trees, dominating the valleys among rocky meanders, the area gets wider with its small cultivates planes, down towards the Magra valley, on the border to Tuscany.
Vice versa, with the green Val di Vara at the back, the strecht of sea that boasts the FEE Blue Flag with dolphins and sperm whales migrating every year, leads us to Rapallo, Santa Margherita and Portofino, small resorts of wealth and culture. Cliffs and wild beaches, difficult to find, allow hours of relax, surrounded by beautiful views.
Towards the sea stacks, we find Framura, a scattered municipality perched between Levanto and Deiva, whose hinterland is covered by many chestnut woods, a profitable catch is allowed every year, both in less deep areas for mullets and sea bass, in the winter and in deeper areas, where it is easy to catch white breams and sea breams.
The remarkable presence, in Vigo, of the cork oak. Finally, Mount Serro, situated between Framura and Deiva Marina, with its many different green colours and the cliffs overlooking the sea, in particular Punta Apicchi, with there is a botanical garden and the where the valleys are nestled between the slopes carved by the erosion of a crowd of small streams.
Places of interest
The eighteenth-century parish church dedicated to Saint Anthony stands out for its details and religious identity, it is situated in the old part of the town: it was built in 1730, the polychrome porch is very interesting, with its typical cobblestones called “a risseau”.
It has a rectangular plan, the presbytery has a richly decorated semicircular apse, the strong white brigthens the rest of the building.
Inside, we find Baroque decorations and eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings. Inside the church there is also a considerable pipe organ of the mid-nineteenth century.
Opposite the church, there is one of the two towers, built during the Republic of Genoa to defend the territory. It has a square plan, with merlons, it is called Saracen.
The second tower has a circular plan, it is built close to the coast and was used as a guard post like the other tower, against Turkish and Barbary pirates raids.
Near the inhabited area of Piazza, there is the church Our Lady of Assumption, considered the first rural church of the area, it was built around 1002 in a large flat terrace.
The church is known for the most significant written records of evangelism of the territory, it is an ancient engraved marble slab, which contains the text of a claim ” letter from Jesus Christ sent from heaven “, dated end of VII – VIII century.
In Passano, going up the mountain, there is the ancient home of the local feudal family of the Marquis Da Passano, here we find the remains of the old feudal castle.
Far from the splendour of the religious buildings and the squares packed on Sundays, there is the beach with its over 600 metres, with sand and pebbles, it offers well-equipped bathing resorts and free beaches, ideal also for scuba divers, the place is well kept and there is a large car park near it.
The depth of the water increases considerably as you enter, so it is better to keep an eye on the children.
Accommodation, tourism and events
The beaches and the beautiful sea, between Punta Mesco and the beginning of the Province of Genoa, offer a perfect holiday to everyone, wellness and the clean sea awarded with the famous Blue Flag.
Fishing or diving in Levanto, hidden bays and a small landing pier in Framura, the small town of Deiva Marina is the first dry port of the coast, it offers dry berthing for pleasure crafts, with lower costs and customised contracts.
Windsurf and other sports can be easily practiced on the spot, where there are accomodation facilities. For those who love walking or hiking, the paths will let you discover the area with the necessary calm, going along trails and footpaths by the sea, surrounded by an almost unspoilt nature, which is part of a larger area that connects the bays of Sestri Levante, Tigullio and the Cinque Terre.
The most famous footpath is the one that starts from Portovenere and goes to Sestri Levante, it is completely free of charge, instead from Deiva Marina it is possible to reach Moneglia and then Sestri Levante going west, or Framura going east.
There are about ten accessible footpaths of different difficulties and lenghts, which are officialy mentioned in the CAI or Sentieri Azzurri maps.
The natural trail from Bonassola to Framura and from Framura to Deiva Marina leads you to the church of Santa Caterina, go past the village of Fornaci and then up to Serro, where there is a vertical drop of about 300 metres, here you will be surrounded by the typical landscapes of the Riviera, enjoy the view, when the weather is fine, of the promontory of Portofino and the small gulf of Levanto.
Although the area of Deiva, with its vineyards and cliffs is steep and difficult, this stretch of Riviera provides remarkable opportunities for mountain biking lovers.
A recently trail has been opened, it connects Bonassola to Levanto, passing through the old train tunnels. By bike you can reach Castagnola, which is the highest part of the municipality of Framura, cycling on the flat, up to Costa di Framura and then downhill, towards the bike path suitable for free rides.
Deiva Marina celebrates its Patron Saint St. John the Baptist, on 24 June, with a popular bonfire, the night before; St. Anne is celebrated in the hamlet of Piazza on 26 July and St. Bernard Abbot, in the hamlet of Mezzema on 20 August.
Festa della Madonna della Guardia, takes place in August too, with a Mass and a procession.
In September, the Sentieri Azzurri foot race, a must for those who want to try one of the most beautiful trails.
Deiva Carnival, in February, parades from Corso Italia to Piazza della Posta, a must for children who will enjoy the famous piñata.
The cuisine from which Deiva finds inspiration, comes from skillfully kept grandmothers’ cookbooks.
It enhances simple tastes, preferring fish to vegetables that the area has to offer, with new dressings, sauces and vegetable pies. Game comes from grazing lands and woods. Trofie or troffie, is a short type of hand made pasta, wheat flour, prepared as tradition asks, it’s a must with the famous pesto sauce, made using basil, extra vergin olive oil, grated cheese; in Genoa, trofie are served with pesto sauce, a boiled potato and green beans, it’s a delicious dish. Part of the culinary tradition are also other types of pasta, such as trenette or testaroli (delicious served with pesto sauce!), or for example pansotti, stuffed with herbs and ricotta cheese, are served with walnut sauce, or corzetti, a type of pasta, it has a medal shape and it’s made with wheat flour, water and salt.
Strong eaters look for ravioli, stuffed with mixed vegetables, cheese or sausages, served with a typical Genoese “ toccu”, meat sauce, slowly cooked. You can easily find the authentic focaccia, in any bakery, simple or stuffed in many ways, ideal for a light lunch or as a snack for children. You must absolutely taste the one with onions, anchovies or dry tomatoes, according to the creativity of the baker.
Vegetable pies, called Torte Verdi, are made with borage, chard, field herbs, artichokes, the dough varies from village to village, richer, with boiled eggs and ricotta cheese, is the Genoese Torta Pasqualina.
As a second dish, the blue Mediterranean fish triumphs, anchovies, breams, seabass, amberjacks in the right season, baked or cooked in a wrapper. The seafood and shellfish can be found both fried or in a main course, delicious tagliatelle, octopus salads, served warm as a starter.
Whitebait fritters are excellent and well appreciated, in the whole east area. When spring approaches, after the cold months, ask your restaurateur to prepare you a stewed stockfish, with cornmeal mush.
Where the sea ends and the woods start, there’s the place where the cuisine finds all the right ingredients to make Ligurian rabbit with Taggiasche olives, a bunch of pine nuts and aromathic herbs chosen from the kitchen garden; or stuffed chicken, the recipe varies according to the housewife who makes it, and left overs as it is done in Liguria, skewers with fried liver, chicken crests, lamb cutlets with fried innards, stewed tripe with just a drop of tomatoe sauce. Mushrooms are cleaned, sliced and cooked in a pan over a low flame, with garlic, oregano and salt.
Vegetables and jams, acacia and millefiori honey, we have plenty natural local ingredients.
As regards desserts we suggest to try the famous Pandolce Genovese, a round shaped cake, rich in raisins, candies, dry fruit and a naturally leavened soft dough, or the juicy and tasty fried apples, picked in the woods in Framura, and Castagnaccio, made with chestnut flour with a slightly sour taste. Whatever dish you choose, we suggest a perfect match with one of the two well appreciated typical wines: a dry DOC white wine “Cinque Terre”, or the sweet liquor DOC wine, called “Sciacchetrà”.
Crossing the territory of La Spezia, try two other wines suggested by the most expert wine cellars: “Tramonti di Biassa” and “Tramonti di Campiglia”, both strong white wines, as we must not forget that we are in the land of longline fishing. At the Lemon Fair held in Monterosso al Mare, in the Cinque Terre on the third saturday in May, you can taste the sought after local product limoncino.