“– Dove sei?
– In una terra che sa di basilico e mare, le colline sembrano voler sfiorare le nuvole e i colori sono pennellate di luce e incanto.” (Fabrizio Caramagna)
Rapallo is one of the most beautiful municipalities by the sea of the provice of Genoa, in Liguria.
It is located in the centre of the Gulf of Tigullio, the town has developed around its evocative historic centre, rich in prestigiuos sites of great historic, artistic and landscape value.
From the centre going towards the hamlets that climb on the hills of the town, the territory features glimpses of undebiable beauty that attract tourism.
Rapallo is the 6th town in Liguria for number of inhabitants (about thirthy thousand), it has become famous for being the premises of two peace treaties at the end of WW1: the treaty of Rapallo in 1920 between the Italian kingdom and the kingdom of Yugoslavia, and the treaty between the Republic of Weimar and the Soviet Union, in 1922.
The town can be discovered easily on foot, as the distance beween the historic centre and the surrounding areas is not particulary significant.
Talking about means of transport, Rapallo distinguishes itself for its cable car, the only one in Liguria, that will take you, in a few minutes, to the Sanctuary if Montallegro, located at 600 metres above the sea level.
From this magnificent place you can appreciate a breathtaking view, without mentioning its spirituality and the deep concentration that you can feel entering this sacred place, built after the appearance of our Lady on 2 July 1557.
A bit of history ...
Historiography has not been able to obtain accurate news about the origin of Rapallo, nor of its name: one of the hyphotesis is that it might come from the latin word “rea palus”, referring to its marshy lands that once distinguished the territory.
The oldest known document that mentions the name Rapallo, dates back to Juy 964, which is kept at the National State Archive in Genoa, among parchments from the Abbey of Saint Siro, published by Antonella Ballardini in 1994.
In this document Teodolfo, bishop of Genoa exchanged a plot that was once property of the church of Saint Giorgio, with Eldeprando del fu Zangulfo, among the appraisers appears the name of a so called Vulnigisio, Adelgiso’s son who lived in “Valle Rapallo”.
In the eleventh and twelth century, during the fights between the Genoese and the Pisans, Rapallo took the side of Genoa, which was definitively submitted to it power from 1229.
The town was the scene of many plunderings by the Aragonesi in 1494 and by the terrible raids of Dragut’s pirats (1549), the raids lead to the construction of a castle to defend the bay, the one which is at present known as the Ancient Castle of Rapallo, symbol of the town.
In 1608, Rapallo was separated from Chiavari and became an independent captaincy. After the fall of the Genoese Republic, Rapallo was under the rule of the French and then under the Savoia family.
During the second half of 1800, its touristic luck began, with the construction of the first international style hotels.
The name of Rapallo is historically linked to the Treaty dated 1920 between Italy and Yugoslavia and to that of 1922 between Germany and Russia.
Rapallo was an important location of conferences and diplomatic meetings, it is also the birthplace of famous people such as Giovanni da Vico, doctor and treatiser, Agostino Giustiniani, an orientalist and Giobatta Pastene, a seafarer and explorer and Fortunio Liceti, doctor and philosopher and finally the painter Nicolò Bargagelata.
The territory of Rapallo has really unusual views, difficult to find elsewhere: the bay, overlooked by the Ancient Castle by the sea, is surrounded by lush hills that make this landscape really unique.
The maritime pines show glimses of sparkling water and the colours of the Mediterranean maquis, with its bright yellow Scotch broom and the red strawberry trees, the old holm oaks lined along the mule track that leads to the Sanctuary of Montallegro and the typical terraces, embellished by century old olive trees that create a sort of natural frame of undeniable value and so appealing to tourists.
On the east, the coast goes from the territory of the municipality of Zoagli, to the municipality of Santa Margherita Ligure to the west, with a sequence of overhanging cliffs, small beaches and evocative coves overlooking the Promontory of Portofino, a scenario really unique in the world.
Places of interest
Rapallo is nestled between the green coasts of the Promontory of Portofino and rocky cliffs that separate the town from Zoagli, providing glimses of great beauty of its shores and of the charming hamlets located on the surrounding hills, it also offers pleasant walks and a rich net of hiking trails.
Located behind the residential area is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro, a pilgrimage destination for people from all over Italy, it can be reached using the only cable car in Liguria, once you get there you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the whole Gulf.
The spectacular Vittorio Veneto waterfront, with its bar and dehors overlooking the street, is the elite spot of a town that lives in every season thanks also to a thick social and commercial fabric.
The historic centre has medioeval origins, it offers the possibility of buying high level quality products in the many shops and to visit interesting monuments such as the Ancient Castle by the sea, the Civic Tower, the Abbey of Saints Gervasio and Protasio, the Cloister of the poor Clares and the in the hamlet of San Massimo, the remains of the Abbey of Valle Christi.
Rapallo offers to tourists and residents various cultural activities; the Cultural Accademy, the International Library, the Lace Museum and Gaffoglio Museum for concerts, conferences and shows that take place all year round, stimulate people to be part of a lively society life which is never common.
Many sports centres complete the offer available in town, which is suitable for every need, starting from its prestigiuos golf course with 18 holes, then the swimming complex, fields and gyms for every discipline run by sport organizations.
The prestigious tourist port, accomodation facilities with 40 hotels, 2 camp sites, 4 agritourisms plus 60 restaurants, a dozen beach resorts and many bars, these are the numbers of the hospitality that can be found all year round, thanks to a mild climate that makes your stay pleasant also in winter months.
Accommodation, tourism and events
Rapallo always surprises tourists, as it has the great peculiarity of being able to satisfly any kind of need.
This quality, has been reinforced over time, as it has developed for over a century and a half, it can be found especially in the historic hotels that welcome tourists with an ample choice of offers, from Bed and Breakfast to five star luxury hotels.
We have previously focused on food, now we have to concentrate on sport features.
Starting from sports typically linked to the sea such as rowing, sailing, diving, we then pass to swimming in the covered and uncovered swimming pool, tennis, minigolf, shooting, boules, horse riding till we reach golf with its historic golf course with 18 holes, pride of the town.
For those, who simply want to walk among the vegetation, it is sufficient to reach Montallegro, from where there are many itineraries to reach the surrounding hills, rather than the inland of Chiavari.
For people who love tanning, they can choose stretches of the free beach or one of the beach resorts (that derive from the old seaside bungalows) located all along the eastern coast till San Michele di Pagana.
For a careful cultural visit, the town offers Gaffoglio Museum, with its important silver and ivory objects, among which a Fabergè egg; Villa Tigullio with the International Library and Lace Museum (full of ancient bobbin lace works), as well as important art works in the many town churches.
Talking abour events, we must mention the celebrations for the Appearance of our Lay of Montallegro, which involve the town on 1-2-3 July, with many fireworks and a procession where you can admire the typical big crucifixes of the Ligurian Confraternities.
During the summer the entire town lives up, with events that take place on the whole territory, among which, just to mention a few are Palio Marittimo of Tigullio, music performances, Ballet Festival, Valle Christi Festival, the historic commemoration of Dragut’s landing, Blues Festival and Palco sul Mare Festival.
Many artists have trod the boards at the theatre Auditorium of the Poor Clares or on the stage set up along the sea front, such as Edoardo Bennato, Loredana Bertè, Mike Bongiorno, Lucio Dalla, Irene Fornaciari, Francesco Gabbani, Irene Grandi, Francesco Renga, Enrico Ruggeri, Roberto Vecchioni.
Everything develops with a profound synergy to welcome the tourist and make his stay unforgettable.
The Ligurian cuisine, is famous as it has developed over the centuries, using ingredients that once were considered economic, but extremely natural and genuine, it boasts dishes that reach a perfect balance between land and sea.
On one side the delicious pansoti served with walnut sauce, the amazing lasagne with pesto sauce, the fabulous raieu cu tocca, stuffed cima, a delicious typical Christmas meat dish, remind us of the green hills that surround Rapallo, while the marinated bouge or the extraordinary fried anchovies or the exquisite “cappon magro” bring back memories of a time, when the sailors left the shore at sunrise, to stretch their nets.
Among this joy of flavours are also included the various types of focaccia (plain, with olives, with sage, with onions, or with cheese) and farinata a, perhaps the most typical Ligurian food of the eastern Riviera.
At this point it is necessary to highlight the culinary features that can only be tasted in Rapallo, as they have obtained the very important acknowledgment De.Co, which means that the products are produced following the rules of the municipality.
“Rapallotto” a type of pasta, pasoto from Rapallo, served with its typical walnut sauce, some gourmets state it was invented in Rapallo, in the hamlet of San Martino di Noceto, an area that was once full of walnut trees.
The other De.co. product of Rapallo is the “cubeletto”, it is a cake made of shortcrust pastry and filled with a delicious quince jam.
For those who come to Rapallo for the first time, we suggest to taste first all De.Co. Products, then try land dishes and finally fish dishes, to cheer your taste with all the typical Ligurian flavours.
All this can be obviously accompanied by white Ligurian wines such as Vermentino and Pigato, or red wines such as Rossese.
All the restaurants in town have menus for all pockets and tastes, with dishes not just from Liguria, but also Mediterranean style dishes.