Feature photo: View from our B&B terrace in Rapallo…what a wonderful surprise it was to be greeted by the delightful owner, Marina, and then this view!
More about this B&B in a future post but for now here’s a glimpse of Villa Olimpo through the trees (colour pic below) + what it looked like in the 1800s and the couple who originally made it their home…
Rapallo – an excellent/more affordable base from which to explore:
Our B&B is to the right of the large hotel…partly visible & a pale yellow with arches
If you ever think about visiting the Italian Riviera, we highly recommend staying in Rapallo as a wonderful base from which to explore other parts of the region eg. Cinque Terre and Portofino – the harbour/village is historically popular with the rich and famous although with so many tourists from cruise ships visiting Portofino now, perhaps famous celebrities might be looking for other destinations?
It does get busy with traffic around Rapallo but we found quieter footpaths (or some call them sidewalks) heading toward the seaside and then onto the town centre…a 10 to 15 min walk from the B&B. This pleasant walk takes you past some historic sites; for example, this ancient wall:
On this ancient wall (Via Duct?…will check notes soon) there is information in both Italian and English

The visitor information centre in Rapallo can give information on few different

Self-guided walks, all with information in both English and Italian, the ancient wall was just one of many stops on the self guided walk. Do take care with cars and cyclists in Italy as they don’t always stop on pedestrian crossings although Rapallo isn’t as difficult to negotiate as some of the bigger cities of course. Around busy places eg. The train stations, we tried to cross with the locals who stride across with confidence!

Our day trip on the ferry to Portofino where we had a light lunch/mini picnic…photo below:

Portofino has a small but v busy harbour…note huge private cruiser to left! Lady Kathryn V which you can rent for a small fortune!…€450K/week + expenses! I suppose the expenses might include the crew including a chef!
We then travelled by a similar ferry onto Santa Margherita (which wasn’t quite as crowded as Portofino). We walked up the hill a bit and found a Gelateria – we love the hazelnut flavour! If we were to do this trip again, we would time our stops differently…have lunch at Santa Margherita (bigger town/more cafes/fewer tourists/parks/seats if you have a picnic lunch) and an afternoon gelato at Portofino.
We had trouble finding a cafe at Portofino…we eventually bought some takeaway tomato topped focaccia (delicious…photo below) and a shady seaside wall for a mini picnic!
Image from Net…note to self…add some ideas about cooking with kids
I also packed some apples & water in our little backpack as I heard how expensive everything is on Portofino. Another good reason for staying at Rapallo…there’s even a small supermarket on the walk to/from the B&B/Villa Olimpo.
There’s a bit of a climb up the hill to get to this Villa (only 10 min) and the footpath is rough in parts so I wouldn’t recommend it to some 70+s who might not have good steady balance/fitness; when walking back from dinner the lighting is dim…we carry a mini torch (a bit brighter than our phones). I liked walking back after dinner but you could get a taxi…they charge about €8 for minimum fare. Dining out in Rapallo isn’t expensive compared to big cities like London, NY, Sydney etc…about half the price for lovely homestyle Italian cooking 😋
The central part of Rapallo and waterfront is pedestrian friendly for all ages…quite flat and many charming historic laneways with small cafes and restaurants. There are also numerous small and medium sized hotels…we saw a few 3 star hotels that looked very fresh and modern. We heard that most were booked out up until a few weeks before we arrived. However, we preferred the weather in late September – warm (sometimes hot) days and cooler nights.
Location of Riviera as defined by Wikipedia:
The Italian Riviera in “Italy’s Liguria region, is a crescent-shaped strip of Mediterranean coastline straddling between the south of France and Tuscany. Its eastern half, the Riviera di Levante, is defined by its rugged cliffs, turquoise coves and pastel seaside towns, including the colorful Cinque Terre fishing villages, as well as stylish resort areas such as Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure.”
In a future post on Italian Riviera I’ll include a map + some information that might engage children including some simple recipes children could assist with.
Why we’re happy we based ourselves in Rapallo for 4 nights:
Rapallo is an attractive smaller city/large town; fewer tourist crowds (although in summer season it’s still v busy); and the accommodation is more affordable and often more accessible as there’s a train station there – actually an excellent one, with a lifts to some platforms and a nice cafe.
Rapallo reminds me a little of Sans Sebastian in Spain – see previous post if interested
The ancient castle…at the end of the promenade – takes about 20 min to walk from 1 end to the other
Middle of the Promenade where you buy ferry boat tickets

On another day we took a ferry boat trip up the Cinque Terre coast, stopping at 2 towns…a post for another day.

If time permits consider doing:

The Rapallo Montallegro cable car excursion…brochure says “since 1934 a cable car has joined Rapallo to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montallegro”, set in the hills 600m above the town. The trip takes about 8 minutes and provides amazing views.”;

“The church is surrounded by beautiful and peaceful countryside, perfect for walking, trekking and biking”.

We didn’t get up there as our timing on the last day (a Sunday) didn’t work out so well…we wanted a few hours to stroll around the waterfront and the pretty central part of town as the day was so beautiful (a post for another day). However, if we do return to Rapallo we will definitely go up! Here’s an image from the Net:

Time to finish up…we’re in Singapore now – depart for home tomorrow after almost 2 months away.