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Levanto, Province of LA SPEZIA
There are many villas in the old town centre, most from the seventeenth and eighteenth century, when many noble Genoese families chose Levanto as their place of summer residence: one of these is Palazzo Vannoni, which is situated opposite the town hall and incorporates the former convent of the Poor Clares. The villa of Santa Caterina is an older building. The town's most popular meeting-place is Piazza della Loggia.
The church of Sant'Andrea dates from the thirteenth century but the parish church of San Siro in Montale is much older (sixth century). The church of San Nicoḷ in Chiesanuova was built in the twelfth century. The Franciscan monastery of the Annunziata dates back to the fifteenth century. The former Augustinian monastery has been turned into a hostel and auditorium for the Jubilee Year: some interesting frescoes were discovered during restoration work and these are now being studied by experts. The oratory of San Giacomo preserves a fifteenth-century bas-relief, which has been chosen as the Jubilee symbol for Liguria.
The red marble and serpentine quarries were once very busy, but today only one is still being worked. The local sports facilities are excellent: football pitches and tennis courts, an athletics track, a swimming pool and a bowling green. The beaches are fully equipped for windsurfing and beach volleyball enthusiasts, although Levanto is best known for surfing in the Mesco area.
Besides the excellent fish dishes, a dish called "gattafin" is the best-known local speciality: it is made with ravioli stuffed with herbs fried in olive oil.
Levanto was the birthplace of the cartographer Matteo Vinzoni and the botanist Domenico Viviani, both of whom lived in the eighteenth century.
Note: The above is an extract taken from the official web-site of the Regione Ligure, Agriculture and tourism department - Tourist section.
Travel Hint: Travelling along the Italian Riviera to visit Liguria's coastal towns and cities is recommended by train - they are frequent, comfortable and generally on time. They also take you into the resort centres and give you an additional perspective and 'flavour' of Italian life. The car by contrast is not quite as practical and ideal as first appears. There are basically two roads along the Riviera, the 'autostrada' and the 'Aurelia'. Italian 'autostrada' can be fairly stressed environments and the coastal road (via Aurelia) is pretty in parts but very slow, passing through every little seaside town. Additionally, parking in most Ligurian coastal towns is not in abundance and can take much longer to find a space than ever imagined - during most of the year, not just in summer. With car-hire, petrol, motorway tolls and parking charges, the car soon becomes an expensive and less than ideal way of getting around - and more often than not, slower overall than the journey by train.
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