Half way between Genoa and the Tuscan border, Sestri Levante is very popular in the summer. Sandy beaches are rare in Liguria and there are two here on either side of the narrow peninsular where the old part of town sits. Baia delle Favole is the wider bay facing north and Baia del Silenzio is the much smaller partly enclosed bay on the southern side with a very narrow beach. They are not very far apart at all and between them and the Via Aurelia are several old streets full of the normal restaurants, cafes and shops with a few hotels.
I wonder whether the people having lunch near the beach in the bottom left photograph knew that between them and the opposite shoreline across the Baia del Silenzio were thousands of bottles of the exquisite Bisson Abissi spumante gently maturing 200 feet below the surface of the water. I asked Pierluigi Lugano whether the steel crates were locked and he just laughed and said that 200 feet of depth was security enough. What a marvelous place to keep your wine cellar.
Seven years ago we spent a pleasant long weekend here just outside the peak summer season and it’s undeniably a very attractive place. On our most recent trip in May it had lost none of its charm and it's impossible not to love places like this on the Ligurian coastline on a sunny day.
But knowing the entire region much better all these years later, Sestri Levante is now for us more of a lunchtime stop than a place to stay a night or two for the simple reason that it gets absolutely swamped with people and there are less frantic places to stay on this coastline, as we continue to write about.
But this would be another excellent choice to visit for a day trip using the coastal train service from wherever you happen to be staying. Then you can avoid the traffic and the parking problems and enjoy a bottle of wine at lunch without worries about driving. A lot depends on the time of year and the day of the week but certainly for any weekend in the high season we would not recommend Sestri Levante unless you have a great deal of patience and don’t mind overcrowding.
However, even on busy weekends there are quiet, shady places to be found at the end of the peninsula between the beaches. If you walk up the hill past the ruins of the old church there is another church and wooded area around it with views of the coastline where you can escape the crowds.
Don't forget the excellent focacceria in town that we wrote about here and of course no visit to Sestri Levante would be complete without a few glasses of wine at the Bisson winery and perhaps a bottle of the Abissi to take home for a special occasion.