Ernest Hemingway called Bonassola “soothing, unforgettable, inexhaustible”. The town, nestled between the two symmetrical headlands of Punta del Carlino and Madonnina della Punta is a pretty village overlooking the long beach, characterized by 18th-century buildings, ship-owners’ residences that made it rich until the end of the nineteenth century.
Soothing, unforgettable, inexhaustible according to Hemingway
But Bonassola’s story is far older. In the hamlet of Reggimonti the Middle Ages is breathed while the Castle recalls the attacks of the Saracens from the sea. There are seven historic villages in the area: Montaretto, San Giorgio, Costella, Serra, Poggio, Scernio and the mentioned Reggimonti.
The most extensive beach in Liguria is surely a good reason to choose Bonassola as a base for your holidays but the town is also the ideal base for exploring the nearby Cinque Terre: to reach Monterosso al Mare it takes only a few minutes and two stops train, which remains the most convenient way to visit them. In addition, the station is right in the center of the village and by train you can reach all the centers of the Gulf of Poets and the Gulf of Tigullio and also Genoa, without the stress and the expensive parking costs.
Another convenient and pleasant way to reach the hamlets on the coast from Portofino to Cinque Terre and Portovenere is with the boats of the Consorzio Marittimo Turistico “Cinque Terre – Gulf of Poets”: the line service is guaranteed from the spring until November 1, every day with favorable weather conditions, and allows you to enjoy the most beautiful scenery, what you see from the sea.
It is recommended to walk or bike on the cycle path connecting Levanto to Bonassola and Framura, the Ciclo Pedonale Mare Monti, built on the ancient naval track of 1874, abandoned in the 1970s with the construction of the new, upstream. The sight of the sea, almost always present on the trail, is almost dazed.
We walked it just before sunset to enjoy the spectacle that you enjoy from the beach watching the sun diving by tinging red the sea at the edge of the rocks on which stands the Madonnina della Punta, the white church built by the Poggi family.
Speaking of wine, Bonassola has been a port for fishing and trade since the earliest times: olive oil, mulberry, chestnuts and wine.
The reference point for the aperitif is the Enoteca EnoBalle (Square Brt Garibaldina CentoCroci, 4 – +39 0187 813399) with a wide choice of wines and delicious appetizers which together with the light and tasty fried fish and molluscs of AperBalle are a tasty diversion that can replace the actual dinner.
In the nineteenth century the ferry line and the carriage road of the Baracca change the destiny of the town: the mariners lose their importance while the trades replace the exploitation of the marble with a casing discovered casually in 1832 just after the construction of the carriages. Today the gold mine of the village is tourism that rewards Bonassola thanks to the valleys of Vara and Alveto, which open in a breathtaking scenery behind it, and the beauty of the seabed.
Behind the historic center, dominant, stands out what remains of the castle that points to the echoes of pirate incursions. Built in 1560, it was the stronghold for the people of the country who, in case of danger, found shelter between their walls. Today there are two circular towers and the most recent city clock.
In the city center, between old palaces and small streets overlooked by shops and stores, you walk very pleasantly and you will be gladly captured by the scent of Bonassola’s focaccia, lower than that of Genovese and greener than that of La Spezia , ideal for a snack on the beach frequented in almost every season thanks to its sheltered position.
To dine in a warm and cozy atmosphere, almost home, we chose the inn L’Arcidiacono (Via Daneri, 24 – +39 338 8471851) where patron Lorenzo proposes the classic Ligurian cuisine of sea and land, with emilian incursions which, as it is immediately heard from, is his native land. Our advice? Fried anchovies and trenette al pesto: with the classic is never wrong!