By the 1960s, Rapallo had become the elegant city it is today, a favorite winter retreat for wealthy Italians living in the Northwest.
By Nicholas Sterling
Located in northwestern Italy, along the border with France, is Liguria, a mountainous region overlooking the sea that bears the same name.
Liguria’s coastline is dotted with charming towns such as Portofino, Santa Margherita, and Rapallo. The latter is a small coastal enclave located south of Genoa. During the mid-nineteenth century, and especially during winters, it was a retreat for fluent British families attracted by its excellent climate, the beauty of its bay, and the hospitality of the local population.
We can still see dated—yet attractive—hotels from the time when the British came to town. There are also impressive Italian villas that have already lost their luster while remaining beautiful. And who can ignore the English gardens, cafés, and restaurants that evoke yesteryear. Like a magnificent sentinel watching over its domain stands the majestic Castello Sul Mare, the Genoese fortress built in 1551 to protect Rapallo from Turkish pirate attacks.
By the second decade of the last century, the city no longer attracted tourists, but rather great artists and poets such as Gabriela Mistral, Ernest Hemingway, Gerhart Hauptmann, W. B. Yeats and Max Beerbohm, who found inspiration in its streets and corners. And long before them, Friedrich Nietzsche spent the winter of 1882 writing the first part of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra."