"LEVANTO" Levanto by edwis

Levanto Travel Guide: 28 reviews and 49 photos

Levanto

After a week in Tuscany we drive to the northern Mediterranean coastal area known as the Liguria region of Italy. Liguria has been defined as a "corridor" of land caught between the Apennines and the sea. Here we settle into the seaside village of Levanto. When driving there no one had ever told us that Levanto goes by two names; it is also called Carrodano which is the name they use on the highway signs and maps…oh stupid us for missing the correct exit. We finally had to stop at a highway rest area to get directions back to the right exit. Getting to the coast from the autostrada were winding and twisty roadways and finally we find our destination village of Levanto.

Even though there were signs in the town we were confused and still had to ask directions from a kid on the street. His direction was to turn at ‘the plant’. All he said was “Look for the plant.” Well, the plant as we realized after a while, was actually a nursery store which had a large sign selling live “plants”.

The Villa Margherita our Bed & Breakfast is operated by Frederico and his little ‘United Colors of Benetton’ stylish wife, named Angela. Frederico was a great host for on the first night there, he takes us to town in his Mercedes and shows us the best restaurants, the town’s main promenade area, and where the Fiat Family (from Milano) has their hill-top estates overlooking the harbor of Levanto. We learned also that Frederico just ran the New York City marathon the previous month. He so inspired Joan that she began running again every morning from that point on during this trip. She thought he was quite the ‘dude’, for he was always wearing a long, black topcoat around the place. You could just tell he was always ready to ‘wheel and deal’ some business transaction. Each morning Angela served us our cappuccino with a Mickey Mouse happy face designed in cocoa on the top.

We seemed to end up having daily chats

with Frederico each evening; he liked to hear all about our new adventures of the day. One day he asked us to help him do some editing of a new flyer he had just developed for his latest enterprise. This was an upcoming cooking school with lessons for tourists that he and Chef Massimo of Levanto will be starting in the spring. Everything will be local Ligurian and flambé style, with classes held at Chef’s restaurant in town. Frederico figured that if they can do this in Tuscany, no reason he can't pull it off in Levanto.
When he heard that our next stop after Levanto, was the Hotel Palazzo Alexander in Lucca, he said that he always refers his clients to go there because it was mentioned in the ‘Rick Steves’ book. He then asked us to do him a favor and deliver some of his Villa Margherita brochures and flyers to the owner of the Palazzo in Lucca, which we did, and they liked that exchange at both ends. Frederico didn’t charge us for a bottle of wine we had while at his place as a token of doing this errand.

After three days we noticed that Frederico and Angela never seem to speak to each other. They each went about doing their own jobs perfectly but we never hear a word exchanged. While at their place, we ran into a couple there from St. Paul Minnesota, my home town, who are living for one year in Slovakia teaching English and History. Neato. Another day Joan does a morning run up to the hillside village of Lizza. She comes back and is telling Angela and me about how she found this little town called “Lizzie”. Angela hears this, smiles, and she tells us it is like the word “pizza”, but you pronounce it with an “L”, Lizza. This was another of Joan’s famous language conquests.

food along the Ligurian coast

Though not as well known as many of Italy's other regional cuisines, the food along the Ligurian coast is second to none. It is seafood, seafood and more seafood. So also then in Levanto by the sea, everything was of course seafood having very little pasta choices on the menus. In fact, we saw little handmade signs in some restaurant windows indicating “no pasta”. This we figured was a way to keep out the tourists who kept asking for pasta since this was Italy. Local specialties in Levanto are a local pesto, a vino bianco, and all the seafood. Some of the Barbera wines from the Piedmont region appear regularly here also.

We had a great meal in a little restaurant serving mostly families. There were only 4 tables, with 3 of them having kids and we were at the 4th. The 9-12 year olds sitting at one table had a halved pineapple, split whole, covered with giant stack of thin sliced prosciutto ham. Then they picked at it and seemed to love it. Go figure. Another 12-year-old girl had a beautiful filet of tuna (tonno), done rare style, meaning very red inside and served with French Fries. Try feeding that to some American teenager. We had gnocchi pesce and prawns with the heads still on and also a “Pansoti con sauc notti”. This Pansoti item, something we never even heard of, was found to be many of the menus in Levanto. This Ligurian specialty is similar to large raviolis, but has a very thin sheer dumpling type appearance filled with a pesto and pine nut mixture, served in a white cream walnut sauce and sprinkled with whole walnuts. What a Ligurian treat and flavor. I am not kidding, but this meal could be in any issue of Bon Appetit.

As we went north from Tuscany, the tomato ragus with pasta gave way to white sauces and with less pasta available. This being said, you could always find the most popular pasta noodles – Tagliatelles - somewhere on a menu. We enjoyed having the local regional wines and found this to be a rewarding experience. We didn’t have to pay high prices and we were introduced to many new wines for the first time.

Again in Levanto, the restaurants didn’t open until 730 pm, but just like dopes we go at 700 at usual. One place we wanted to eat at lets us in where we see all the staff sitting at a table eating. The owner sat us down in another room and gave us a bottle of wine where we just relaxed until the place opened.

After one dinner we decided to order a little dolci. The menu item was translated as “ice cream with hot nuts”. But what arrives was a large cereal type bowl full of 10 whole chestnuts softened and served warmed, covered with a scoop on vanilla

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:GOOD GATEWAY INTO THE CINQUE TERRE
  • Last visit to Levanto: Nov 2005
  • Intro Updated Jun 26, 2007
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edwis

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