Stretching out from the Ligurian Sea to the Maritime Alps, the Italian Riviera is a fairytale-like strip of coastline that’s easily recognizable thanks to its craggy hills, colorful seaside villages, panoramic views of the Mediterranean and enchanting beaches. This is both a fascinating cultural destination and a pleasure-seeking one where you’re able to wander through opulent palaces that once belonged to Italian nobility and humble countryside churches, followed by afternoons spent lounging by the water and scenic gourmet meals. It’s no surprise why this has been the coastal retreat of choice for writers, artists, celebrities and royalty for the last 200 years. With its fabulous mix of culture, history, art and natural beauty, the Italian Riviera delivers an elegant getaway where laid-back charm meets over-the-top glamour.
Where to Stay
Perched on a quaint hill overlooking the sea, the Royal Hotel Sanremo is simultaneously far away and in the heart of it all. The hotel dates back to 1872 when a group of wealthy Russians launched the Riviera resort as a winter retreat, and today the magnificence of its imperial past comes together with all the comforts of modernity for your pleasure. Immersed in breathtaking sea views, lush subtropical gardens and roaming hills, the royal spirit carries on to this day with its Belle Époque décor, antique furnishings, refined details and overall exclusive elegance.
The well-illuminated suites are particularly charming with their comfortable linens, sea views from above and harmonic details, as well as separate showers and baths. Around the resort, guests have access to both the Mediterranean Sea and the scenographic swimming pool designed by GiòPonti that perfectly pulls the entire property together. The royal experience extends to a sumptuous spa and wellness center, where you can allow yourself to be pampered and spoiled with an extensive list of treatments, highlighted by an authentic Turkish bath made of pearl mosaic.
Be sure to check out our Luxury Hotel Guide to the Italian Riviera for a complete list of accommodations.
Where to Dine
A timeless favorite among celebrities and locals alike, Ristorante Puny is one of the most iconic eateries in the entire Italian Riviera. Located in fabulous Portofino, this colorful restaurant sits in a prime position right on the piazzetta in front of the harbor. Though Portofino has become a jet-set favorite that tends to draw large summer crowds, Ristorante Puny continues to retain that authentic feel from the town’s days as a tiny fishing village. Simply put, it’s a landmark in the Italian Riviera and makes for an unforgettable culinary experience, especially if you manage to snag one of just 15 tables on the exclusive outdoor terrace.
Immersed in the sights of the harbor, as well as the passing parade of people, Ristorante Puny makes for an al fresco dining experience like no other. On the inside, there are a few more tables that are surrounded by a cozy and elegant atmosphere. The lengthy menu offers several handmade Ligurian dishes including pappardelle pasta with shrimp and topped with tomato and pesto sauce. As you might expect, reservations are essential at Ristorante Puny.
Our Italian Riviera Destination Guide also includes a Restaurant Guide with an expanded list of recommendations in the region.
What to Do
Widely known as the gateway to the Riviera, Genoa is Italy’s largest seaport and a city filled to the brim with history and culture. It’s here in Genoa where you can discover your share of UNESCO-listed palaces, churches, galleries and museums throughout its steep network of cobbled streets. Beyond the fascinating cultural sites, the fantastic Old City is home to a number of fashionable restaurants, bars and lounges in the entire region.
The best shopping is found in Portofino. In between charming local cafes, artisan shops and seaside eateries, the former fishing village is home to several international boutiques from the likes of Salvatore Ferragamo, Missoni, Cartier, Ermenegildo Zegna, Dior and Louis Vuitton. Sitting on its own peninsula, Portofino’s endless good looks stem from the beautiful waterfront and lush hillsides, while the lovely beaches tend to attract the fashionable, glamorous type.
Elsewhere, no trip to the Italian Riviera is complete without a visit to Cinque Terre. This string of five villages boasts some of the most jaw-dropping coastal scenery in the Mediterranean with pastel-hued houses clinging to life from vertical cliffs, overlooking the crystal clear waters below.
What to Pack
Under the blue skies and endless sun of the Italian Riviera, you’ll certainly want to come fashionably prepared, yet also comfortable for the wonderful coastal exploration. Crafted from lightweight and breathable fabric, these Johanna Ortiz High-Rise Linen Pants and matching Ecru Tipping Point Bikini Top are idealized for a stylish vacation. The playful pair is chic enough to take you through the charming city streets to the breathtaking shores and back.
When it comes to the twisting steps and uneven streets, comfortable flats are a necessity in the Italian Riviera. Ideal for a Mediterranean summer, these Carrie Forbes Mour Raffia Slides are woven from natural raffia straw and fitted with a simple wide top strap – provide the walking comfort you need without sacrificing any style. Elsewhere, not only do these Garrett Leight Acetate Cat-Eye Sunglasses deliver on-trend style with the slightly oversized silhouette, but they also provide top-notch protection from the sun’s rays.