Alassio is one of the Italian Riviera’s best kept secrets. Once a top destination for Brits, it no longer draws the teeming crowds as it used to, outshone by its chicer French counterparts. Yet, this is possibly what makes it so perfect for a romantic getaway: what better way to connect with your other half than being immersed in a place that hosts few English-speaking tourists? Surrounded by the romantic Italians, you’ll truly get to experience Alassio as a local and maybe even pick up a few pointers. Indeed, the Italians know best when it comes to food, wine, and how to have a good time. Alassio’s silky beaches, sparkling clear water, and deep green olive hills are the perfect setting for a romantic getaway.
Things to do
One of the best things about a holiday in Alassio is the fact that it is very easy to do very little. The stunning bronze-grey silky beach is shared among the various boutique hotels lining the shore and each has its private slice of the beach for its guests. You’ll be assigned a deckchair and a parasol (ombrellone in Italian) for the entirety of your stay and you’re free to come and go as you please. It’s very tempting therefore to spend your days soaking in the golden rays, settling down with a good read, and taking an occasional dip in the deliciously cool and mesmerizingly clear sea. The best thing is that you’re expected to do nothing more.
If you’re someone who needs to be out and about exploring, don’t fret, as there are many wonderful hiking trails of varying lengths and intensities. The trails take you up through the beautiful olive-clad hills and will reward you with stunning views of the coastline. Your hotel should be able to provide you with a map of all the different hiking trails. The views from Santuario Madonna della Guardia and Monte Bignone are both particularly spectacular. The hike up to Monte Bignone takes about two hours and a half there and back and is quite steep and rocky at some points so make sure to wear proper hiking boots and bring lots of water. Once you’re at the peak, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of Alassio, the neighbouring town of Albenga, and of course the sparkling expanse of sea.
Alassio is also the perfect base for day trips. You’re a short train ride away from the glamorous Monte Carlo or the cosmopolitan Nice, which means that you get to experience these iconic cities without paying the exorbitant prices for accommodation. You might also want to visit traditional Italian towns in the sea-hugging Liguria region such as Zuccarella, an old market town with an arched bridge which made the cover of Time magazine in 1960, and Colletta di Castelbianco, a medieval hilltop town.
Where to eat
You can never really go wrong when it comes to Italian food but there are some places that just hit the spot. If you want a delicious simple meal for a small price, pay La Lanterna a visit. The restaurant is right on the shoreline next to a medieval tower and serves up an amazing range of heartwarming pizza.The pizzas range from 6 EUR to 10 EUR (6.57 to 10.95 USD) with the unique combinations being a bit pricier. Make sure to check out the daily special for exciting combinations made with the freshest ingredients.
For the ultimate romantic experience visit La Prua, a gorgeous Michelin guide restaurant that concocts unique and intricate seafood dishes. Take advantage of their romantic beach deck seating, which brings you as close to the sea as you could possibly wish for. There’s nothing quite like hearing the soothing waves as you sip on delicious Italian wine. For starters, try their octopus terrine with pistachios and pink peppercorn on potatoes mousseline with extra virgin olive oil or their lightly smoked fresh Norwegian salmon tartare with brioche bread and buffalo’s butter. For mains, go for their double sea bream fillet stuffed with mushrooms and served with saffron flavoured bouillabaisse or their ricotta-potato gnocchi with smoked swordfish and wild fennel. If you’re feeling meat, try their slow cooked veal cheek served with gremolata and pearl barley yellow risotto. The starters and the mains range from 15 EUR to 32 EUR (16.42 to 35.03 USD).
La Vigna is another delightful restaurant that promises to be an exceptional taste experience. Tucked in the deep green hills, you’ll need to hike up the winding path along Via Solva but both the view and the food is worth it. Sit al fresco to make the most of the breathtaking panoramic view of the city. The restaurant offers a fusion of Ligurian and Provençal cuisines and boasts an extensive choice of both seafood and meat dishes. You may order à la carte, but the set dinner is definitely worth trying; the menu offers a choice of starters, first course, main course and the dessert of the day. A sample set course would be the mixed hors d'oeuvre, which is perfect for trying a little bit of everything. On the set menu, you may find white fish ravioli with tomatoes, mussels and clams for the first course, the catch of the day with pine nuts, olives and butter lemon sauce for the main, and a yoghurt cream berry parfait to finish it off. The set of 4 courses is priced at 35 EUR (38.31 USD).
It wouldn’t be a Italian holiday without some gelato and the artisanal Alberto Marchetti gelateria is the perfect place to get your ice cream fix. Alberto Marchetti handpicks all his ingredients to ensure the highest quality possible and believes in respecting traditions to create the perfect creamy gelato. Try the pistachio, the hazelnut, or the chocolate for an indulgent treat. If you’re feeling something lighter, go for the lemon or the forest fruits.
Where to stay
Alassio’s coastline is lined with a plethora of boutique hotels ranging in style, price, and ambiance. It may be a bit overwhelming with so many to choose from but if you’re looking for an unforgettable experience at a reasonable price, Hotel Flora is the one for you. For as low as 60 EUR a night (65.69 USD), you can get a spacious room with a comfortable double bed perfect for a midday siesta and a good night’s sleep. It’s definitely worth booking one of the rooms with a sea view as you’ll be treated to a magical sunrise every morning. There’s nothing like waking up to your walls tinted rose gold by the first light and being able to sit out on your private balcony, watching the mesmerising spectacle of the dazzling sun emerging from the horizon. The breakfast at Hotel Flora is another reason on top of the stunning sunset to get out of bed early. It’s served from 8 until 9:30 and features a delicious spread of croissants, breads, jams, ham, cheese, fruit, muesli, yoghurt, and a homemade tart. Don’t forget to get a caffe latte or a cappuccino as Italians generally don’t drink those after 11. The service at Hotel Flora is impeccable and you’re 10 steps away from the private beach.
If you’re really looking to splash out, check out Grand Hotel Alassio, Hotel Regina, or Grand Hotel Mediterranee for the ultimate luxurious experience from 90 EUR (100 USD) a night. There are also other more affordable hotels such as Villa della Pergola, Residence Le Terrazze, Hotel Lux, or Hotel Mignon from just 35 EUR a night (38.31 USD).
Alassio: the perfect romantic retreat
The buildings are in colours of lemon, salmon, baby pink, and deep reds, as if the whole town was an ode to the sun and its shades. The beautiful setting paired with the delicious food makes it a wonderfully dreamy destination to discover with your significant other.
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