Leh-ri-chi is how you should pronounce it on your next vacation in Italy. It’s spelled Lerici though, and it is heaven on earth in a wonderful Mediterranean beach resort – right up there among ones like Versilia, Cinque Terre or Porto Fino on the Italian Riviera. But why this obscure sounding place when there are far more well-known and well-celebrated Italian resorts? Well, what would you want with the celebrated resorts; wouldn’t you much rather have for yourself on your next vacation an undiscovered gem, a place that has somehow escaped the attention of the screaming hordes? Why would this place, so close to the other mainstays be left alone so much if it was all that wonderful? It is all about marketing.
Lerici has a somewhat picture book look; the buildings are the traditional Italian pastel, and they tower over the cozy little coves of its beaches; the majestic cliffs surrounding the town command the greatest part of your attention though. As much as Lerici is an unknown the world over, it is properly well-loved by the locals, and come summer, you’ll see plenty of local families and visitors from Milan descending on the town’s sparkling beaches.
What makes it so endearing though? On a vacation in Italy, Lerici mysteriously transports to the cultural heartland all of a sudden. Old men take walks on the beaches, women take care of their shops, and children play football on the beaches. And no one seems to know of or think about tourists – English is virtually unheard of here. But you still experience every eye-popping pleasure of a top-of-the-line Italian Riviera resort.
The most famous part of Lerici, is the notorious and famous medieval castle, towering over the town’s main square or piazza. The castle overlooks the famous Gulf of La Spezia and you’ll find a paleontology museum here. If you feel like it, you can take a great walk from the harbor up the rocks and down a path to the nearby village of Santa Renzo, where there is a smaller castle to poke around in, and this one is left alone by the vacationers to. If you ever make the mistake of going up one of the famous mountain trails in Cinque Terre to hamlets like this perched on top though you’ll have a similar experience, except that it will feel more like a visit to Disneyland, so full of Americans on vacation in Italy are these places.
Lerici has been a destination for great artists for centuries. Take a trek up the mountain to the little villages of Fiascherino and Tellaro and you’ll know why; at the end of the cliff you see a wide-open view of the deep blue sea and the jagged coasts. It’s enough of a sight to turn anyone artistic. P.B.Shelley, DH Lawrence, Lord Byron and many famous Italian writers have settled here for inspiration over the centuries. Lerici has been comfortably occupying the blind spots of anyone trying to vacation in Italy for centuries, seemingly.
Lerici isn’t unhappy for the lack of tourist attention though; thetown council has been fighting the government’s offers of tourist promotion for quite a while. They want to retain their character. Reaching Lerici isn’t easy; there is no train line, and cars or ferries are your only choices. If you do drive down, you’ll have practically nowhere to park. And cars are prohibited in most places in town too. If you do decide to embrace it all and take Lerici in for your vacation in Italy this time, try the hotel Santa Renzo; the prices are reasonable at about $250 a night, and you get free parking. Try the Vertigo Bar for a little evening entertainment and the Gelateria Arcobaleno on Piazza Garibaldi is likely to make you wonder why you even need restaurants – so great are their gelatos and chocolate.