Situated on the alluvial plain of the River Ghiararo, Levanto is surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of hills, spread of small villages and houses, peeping at the sea through olive-groves and vineyards.
Levanto’s valley represents the landscape variety of this end of the Riviera: sweeping mountains slope down to the sea, alternating deep valleys with gentler hills, pine and chestnuts woods with Mediterranean shrubs, uneven and parched coast with terrace cultivations.
Nowadays Levanto is a renowned seaside resort, with its wide sandy beach as well as a destination for excursionists.
Starting from the promontory of Mesco you can hike on the dramatic paths of Cinque Terre National Park; otherwise you can choose less popular , but not less evocative, destinations as Bonassola or Framura with their wild nature, or you can discover the network of ancient mule tracks connecting the plain to the hills and all the hills from one end of the valley to the other.
The development of Levanto
To understand the Levanto of today you need to understand its story, give historical depth to the actual landscape and know which vocations and identities have passed in time.
We can distinguish at least three:
- a feudal and farm-pastoral identity in the Bardellone mountains, linked to the control of the passes and land communication and to the lost centers of Ceula and Zolasco;
- a communal and mercantile-maritime identity, centered in the hamlet of Levanto and existing with absolute devotion to the Genoa Republic, not without strong emphasis on a farming economy: from the attraction of villa-farming to the constellation of the rural centers of the valley;
- a tourism identity that has developed in two phases and according to two different models: elite tourism (until the 50’s) and mass tourism (after the 50’s).
- The first model offers, above all to foreign tourists, the sought-after image of a Levanto substantially rural, located in the middle of an agrarian landscape that from reading the impressions of its first tourists was experienced as a big garden, as a kind of paradise on earth.
The second model offers instead an image of Levanto that destroys its territory, to develop the coastal plain specially in Ghiararo, where many flower and vegetable gardens have disappeared, on the beaches and on the sea.
This late development created a fracture with the past, and also with the territory: the preceding models were in fact developed without discontinuity and without substantial lack of balance between the coast and inland, between the hamlet and valley, between urbanization and territory.
This is what happened in the area around Levanto, where the pressure from the building industry in the 50’s and 60’s is at its greatest, while the settling system of the valley has managed to conserve its urban configuration.
Today even this phase fortunately has been stopped, and they look at the history and future of Levanto with ideas and principles that recognize the economic value of its landscape, its historical-cultural territory, its historical identity.
Today we can’t go without asking ourselves questions like this: what would Levanto be like without the constellation of its “fractions”, that have maintained their physiognomy, without woods of olive trees and vineyards, without the Mesco and the Cinque Terre where hard labor have maintained their traditional landscape?
Levanto can be a good base for your Cinque Terre visit: you can get here with your car, park it and you can easily walk to the Cinque Terre, or take a train to any one of the five villages. You also have more traditional activities available, if you want them: a more intense night life, a beach, even if a small one.
Where to stay in Levanto
Hotels, villas, apartments and B&Bs in Levanto: search and make a reservation here.