Sestri Levante (Latin: Segesta Tigulliorum) is a town and comune in Liguria, Italy. Lying on the Mediterranean Sea, it is approximately 56 kilometres (35 mi) south of Genoa and is set on a promontory. While nearby Portofino and the Cinque Terre are probably the most well known tourist destinations on the Italian Riviera, Sestri Levante is becoming quite a favorite among Italians. This once quiet fishing village is slowly turning into a tourist hotspot, developing an old and a new town.*
Sestri Levante is found approximately halfway between Genoa and La Spezia. The town has two bays: Baia delle Favole, (Bay of the Fables), and Baia del Silenzio, the (Bay of Silence). The original part of Sestri Levante is actually on a peninsula, with the Baia del Silenzio (also known as "Portobello") on one side and Baia delle Favole on the other. Baia delle Favole or “Bay of Fairy Tales” was named in honor of Danish writer, Hans Christian Andersen, who lived in Sestri Levante for a short time in 1833.
Sestri Levante has its origins as an ancient maritime and merchant center. Originally a small island with a promontory, it was later connected to the mainland. In Roman times, it was known as Segesta Tigullorum (or Tigulliorum) or simply Segesta. It was mentioned in the year 909 in a certificate of a man named Berengario, in which part of its territory was ceded to the basilica di San Giovanni di Pavia; after it was invaded by the Barbarians. During the Middle Ages, Sestri Levante began to expand, probably giving the fortress appearance that is due to the terrain.
In 1133, the noble family of Lavagna, the Fieschi, attacked Tigullio, the gulf in which Sestri Levante is located, however, they were fought off by the powerful Republic of Genoa, and therefore, Sestri Levante became a part of the republic, for military protection. In the year 1145, the abbey of San Colombano was acquired by the Genoese, and was transformed later into a castle.
In 1170, Sestri Levante was attacked by a naval flotilla from Pisa, but was able to withstand the attack.
Sestri Levante is mentioned by Dante Alighieri (as "Siestri") in Canto 19 of The Divine Comedy.*
* Taken from wikipedia
Points of interest to visit in SestriLevante include:
- the sixteenth century Capuchin Convent with its beautiful wooden furnishing, erected in one of the most enchanting points on the Baia del Silenzio;
- the Medieval church of S. Nicolòdell’Isola, dating back to the twelfth century;
- the remains of the baroque Oratory of Santa Caterina, which was bombed during the Second World War;
- the salvaged Portobello palaces (Villa NegrottoCambiaso and the complex of the ex-Convent dell’Annunziata);
- the precious art collection of the Rizzi Gallery, together with the numerous historical villas belonging to the illustrious Genoese aristocratic families who resided in SestriLevante during the sixth and seventh centuries.
A few minutes from downtown there is Riva Trigoso,an ancient maritime borgo with its traditional “leudorivano,” an ancient Latin commercial sailboat used in the high seas of the Mediterranean.
In the interland, there are other interesting sites to see:
- the prehistoric Libiola mines, dating back to the Bronze Age;
- the church of S. Sabina di Trigoso with the complex of the ancient Fieschi villa;
- Roman bridges and the ruins of the Sant’Anna church;
- the excursions in the protected areas of Punta Manara and Punta Baffe.