Santa Margherita Ligure
Santa Margherita Ligure had one brief moment in the spotlight, at the beginning of the 20th century when it was an internationally renowned retreat. Fortunately, the seaside town didn’t let fame spoil its charm, and now that it’s no longer as well known a destination as its glitzy neighbor Portofino, it might be the Mediterranean retreat of your dreams. A palm-lined harbor, a beach, and a friendly ambience make Santa Margherita Ligure a fine place to settle down for a few days of sun and relaxation. Life in Santa Margherita Ligure centers on its palm-fringed waterfront, a pleasant string of marinas, docks for pleasure and fishing boats, and pebbly beaches, in some spots with imported sand of passable quality. Landlubbers congregate in the cafes that spill out into the town’s two seaside squares, Piazza Martiri della Liberta and Piazza Vittorio Veneto.
The train station is on a hill above the waterfront, and a staircase in front of the entrance will lead you down into the heart of town. Santa Margherita Ligure’s one landmark of note is its namesake Santuario di Nostra Signora della Rosa, just off the seafront on Piazza Caprera, is well worth a visit to view the extravagant, gilded, chandeliered interior. Santa Margherita Ligure’s winters are delightfully mild, but even so, the town rushes to usher in spring with a Festa di Primavera, held on moveable dates in February. Like the Sagra del Pesce in neighboring Camogli, this festival also features food, in this case, fritters are prepared on the beach and served around roaring bonfires. One of the more interesting daily spectacles in town is the fish market on Lungomare Marconi. On Friday, cars are banned from Corso Matteotti, Santa Margherita Ligure’s major street for food shopping, turning the area into an open-air food market.