Liguria is one of the most enjoyable places in Italy for travelers. From glamorous Portofino to sleepy fishing villages, the province offers a wide range of experiences. And wherever you choose to go, you’ll likely have terrific food – pesto is a specialty here – and fabulous coastal views.

The area has long attracted poets and painters, including Shelley and Lord Byron. And thanks to the Rick Steves guidebooks, the five towns of the Cinque Terre were discovered by Americans decades ago.

But there are still coastal resorts where you’ll hardly hear any English spoken. And Lerici, across the Poets’ Gulf from Portovenere and La Spezia, is a real gem.

Dominated by the medieval Castello San Giorgio, Lerici is within easy striking distance of Tuscany. In fact, it’s little over an hour’s drive from Florence. And just 45 minutes from the airport in Pisa. So if you want some sea air and stunning scenery before returning home, plan to spend a few nights there.

With no train service, you’ll need to drive, and with limited parking, it’s a good idea to get there early in the day.

There’s a gorgeous ocean-front promenade, plenty of good hiking trails in the hills outside of town, and excellent beaches within walking distance. The harbor and adjoining piazza have lots of bars and cafes where you can enjoy la dolce vita. You can climb the castle for incredible views of Portovenere and the islands in the bay. And if you want to explore further afield, there’s ferry service to Portovenere and the Cinque Terre towns.

Lerici hotels and inns.

The top choice in town is the Hotel Locanda del Lido, which opened in 2006. The property is modern with hardwood floors, glass accents, and white décor. The round lobby is anchored by a small, indoor pool, and the water practically laps at the lobby. Its twelve, ocean-front rooms all have terraces with great views, flat-screen TVs, and minibars. There’s a roof-top solarium with plenty of loungers, and lots of ocean-front deck space. Doubles start at 210 euros.

The 53-room Hotel Doria Park is just a couple of minutes from the town center, but its location is the best in Lerici, and the views are tops. You can take breakfast or lunch on the ocean-view terrace surrounded by a pretty, Mediterranean garden. The suites here have balconies or patios and Jacuzzi tubs. Some of the suites even have private, outdoor spas with sweeping views. Beaches are nearby, and water sports are available. Those without a car can arrange shuttle service from trains stations in nearby towns.

One of the newer hotels in the area, Hotel San Terenzo is in the town next to Lerici. All 14 soundproof rooms have WiFi, satellite TV and minibars. Nine rooms look over the bay; five look out at the new seaside promenade that leads to Lerici. The roof-top solarium is a great place to sun or relax with a glass of local wine. And there’s a beach with facilities adjacent to the hotel. Parking is available.

Located across the street from the beach, about ten minutes walk from Lerici, Hotel Florida has 40 modern rooms with all the expected amenities, water sports rentals, and a roof-top terrace with great views. Because the property has been run by the same family for 30 years, service is friendlier than most, and it’s very clean. Doubles start at 140 euros.

Best known for its excellent seafood restaurant, Locanda Miranda in Tellaro has six big rooms — many of which have terraces — a shared living room with a fireplace.

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