Italy, Day 3: Visiting Bonassola, a Ligurian Beach Town

Ryan and I tried to keep things simple since we had a toddler in tow for this Italy trip.  A big part of that involved revisiting places we had liked on our last trip, because it’s a lot easier than exploring a whole new area with a toddler in tow.

On Saturday morning we had cafe and brioche at a corner cafe near the hotel.  It was a great people-watching spot, and they made delicious fresh-squeezed orange juice for Maple.  It was also super inexpensive.

From Levanto we could walk to Bonassola, the next town north, along a converted railway trail.  The flat trail hugs the coast, dips in and out of old train tunnels, and has spectacular ocean views.

2016 Italy Bonassola Bike Path

Below is a 360 degree view of the bike path and the Italian coast.  Use your mouse to drag the photo around and get a “virtual reality” glimpse of where we were.  You can expand it by clicking the little square in the bottom right of the photo.


Ryan took this with his Google smartphone.  I thought it was silly at first, but once Ryan showed me the result, I was hooked!  The Google virtual reality photos can actually be viewed in Google Cardboard for an even more realistic experience.  It’s crazy what technology can do for us!

In Bonassola, which is clearly a beach town in the summer, several restaurants and bars line the beach.  Near the north end we found a nice “beach club” that had had a restaurant, but attached was a more lounge-like area, with sofas and shade.

2016 Italy Bonassola Liguria Riviera Oceanfront Beach Club Lounge

The prices for food and drinks were higher than in town, but we thought it was still a good value for relaxing and enjoying ocean views.  Plus, the space was pretty empty even though it was Saturday, so we were able to let Maple play on the floor around our area.

2016 Italy Bonassola Beach Club Maple Play 2016 Italy Bonassola Beach Club Caffe Shakerato Aperol Spritz
This town was refreshingly NOT overrun with tourists.  Italians flock to it for beach time in the summer, but otherwise it’s pretty comfortable and quiet. Just watch out for the Poodle Restrictions! 😉

2016 Italy Bonassola No Poodling

Beware: there is NO POODLE-ING allowed in Bonassola!

2016 Italy Bonassola Cinque Terre Liguria Bicycles Flowers

That night we put on some nicer clothes and went out for dinner at our favorite restaurant, L’Articciocca.  This spot is tucked on a little side street in Levanto, and we loved it so much on our last trip that we ate there twice, and missed it when we came home. 

2016 Italy Levanto Jane Maple

We got there right when it opened at 7 pm, and fortunately for our stomachs, Maple was still wide awake from jet lag.

The food was as delicious as we remembered, and we were shocked when Clara, the owner, remembered us from three years ago!  She even remembered that we ate out on the patio in the rain (by choice) the first time.  The restaurant is on the fancier side, is fairly quiet and intimate, and is slow food where you spend a few hours over dinner, so we felt a little self-conscious of Maple and her energy.  We managed this by taking her outside to play on the patio between courses.

Clara was so accommodating and welcoming of Maple, though.  And Maple was smitten by her voice.

That night Maple went to sleep a little earlier, but not as early as we hoped.  Having a cheerful, talkative toddler in a hotel room with thin walls is nerve-wracking!
2016 Italy Bonassola Ligurian Beach Town


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  • Reply Elizabeth Shanno at 11:57 am

    I have been struggling with where to stay or whether to even visit the Cinque Terre area. Your posts are extremely helpful. My youngest daughter, 16 – believe it when they say they grow up in a blink of an eye! Will be visiting my oldest who is studying abroad in Florence this semester. We have our itinerary basically mapped out with the exception of three night weekend when my eldest will be with us. It’s the third weekend in April and I believe we’re going to use Levanto as our base. Most likely an Airbnb or such apartment/house. I’m a bit discouraged by peoples reference to the large crowds. However coming from Nantucket I can appreciate everyone meets. We are drawn to the water but not the crowds so I’m hoping that Levanto will provide solace after we visit some of the busy villages. Thank you for all the insight! Ciao!

    • Reply Jane at 8:23 pm

      I hope that you love Levanto! I think that staying there is a great choice. April should be perfect. I hope you eat at L’Articiocca, too! Clara, the owner, is just the sweetest and the food is amazing. Have a great time! Your oldest is so lucky to be studying in Italy!

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