Why Chiavari? Why Not?

November 21, 2017

It has been over 8 months since I moved to Chiavari in Liguria. Why, you may ask. Why this spot? Let me explain, Lasciatemi spiegare.

I love the sea. And I have dreamed of living by the sea for, perhaps, 40 years or more. I specifically wanted to live in Italy by the sea. I sought out towns in Italy along its lovely coastline for over two years.  

I had criteria.

  1. I needed to walk to the train station with my luggage.
  2. I wanted to walk to the sea within 10 or 15 minutes.
  3. I preferred to settle in a non-touristic place where the English language would not be spoken everywhere I went. I wanted to learn la lingua italiana, the Italian language, and I sometimes need that push, that inevitability, where I would be forced to speak Italian.
  4. I needed a furnished apartment, possibly with an elevator. I wanted a view, if possible. I wanted to feel safe.
  5. I wanted a decent hospital nearby.
  6. I had a low household budget and I needed to stick to it.

In 2016, I was writing an article about a hotel in Sestri Levante, Liguria. I had never visited Liguria before arriving at Tellaro and Portovenere prior to Sestri Levante. I fell in love with the area. I thought seriously about the first two but getting there was a challenge, few people live there year-round and there was no train service. Sestri Levante is a lovely town visited by many for vacations in the summertime. It was a possibility until a friend drove me to a neighboring town, Chiavari.

After only an hour there, my gut and my heart told me this is where I want to be. It had all the items on my list, plus 2 hospitals within a few kilometers and the sea, oh the sea with its promenade, was spectacular. If you follow my writings, you know I am obsessed with the sea and the sunsets on the sea.

Where is it? Many foreign visitors never even approach Chiavari. Most do not knowingly enter Liguria, the province where I live.

Chiavari is about halfway between Cinque Terre and Genoa. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to get to either hotspot. And the train rides along the rugged Ligurian Coast. It is also about halfway between the eastern and western edges of the province. It hugs the coastline from the edge of Tuscany to France and every inch or centimeter of that coast is stunning.

The weather here has its own microclimate. Along the coast it will remain warmer than inland, into the hills and mountains. I do not expect to see any snow in Chiavari. Average temperatures in the December through February months are in the high 40s and 50s F. I am done with the snow and below zero weather of Minnesota.

Forgive me that I love photographing the sea. It changes moment to moment. I try to capture those individual seconds of beauty with my camera. Each of those moments is as unique as a snowflake, never to be seen again. Still, several of my readers have asked for more photos of Chiavari itself.

Within Chiavari, as you meander through medieval strade (streets), you will enjoy the porticos, the covered walkways that keep the worst of any weather out. Motorcycles and Vespas abound.

You can ride them year-round and they are much easier to park than cars.

Much of the town of Chiavari is fairly flat, making it easy to explore on foot as I do.

Here I am in a  main piazza, squares for a celebration. I was lucky to pose with these soldiers.

I adore the main square with the above, magnificent palace. It is a huge square that is usually filled each day with the market.

It is a great place to select your fresh food while the locals shop and share time with their friends.

Usually the men take all the shady benches in the summertime.

Piazza Roma is an even larger locale.

With parking and more of the gorgeous, Art Nouveau architecture.

I love this building with the ladies holding the balconies up.

You will find exquisite architecture with trompe l’oeil (French for “trick for the eyes”) optical illusions. This style adds depth and three-dimensional appearance to flat surfaces. It can mimic sculptures, architectural treatments and even, in the photo below, a cat who isn’t there on a shelf that isn’t there either. It is all paint and paper. I love this whimsey.  Do you?

Even a modern play area has a backdrop of this type of faux painting.

Chiavari does move away from the sea and up the hills to the north. It adds a dimension to the streets and buildings.

As do the old fortifications and umbrella trees, or pino.

Across from one entrance to the botanical gardens,

There is a magnificent, three story home I love.

Every ornate detail begs for attention.

This town is an architectural wonder if you enjoy the late 19th, early 20th century work. Intermixed with these newer structures are the medieval center, the Romanesque and Baroque Churches

And all the elegant, gentle people living amongst these gems. They are a proud people and I feel lucky to be here and to meet some of them. They live all around me, on the hills jutting into the sea,

Further back from the sea than I am,

And in their colorful apartments and homes.

There are no major tourist stops here in Chiavari. Yet, just a month ago, a friend chose Chiavari as her home base to explore Liguria from Cinque Terre and Portovenere to the east and Camogli and San Fruttuoso to the west. She enjoyed the quiet of a city of 28,000 inhabitants, the savings in lodgings, the ease of the train and ferry rides and the sunsets by the sea.

We enjoyed the boats in the bay while sipping an Aperol Spritz and enjoying aperitivi,

And said goodbye as the setting sun colored the heavens. It is a good spot to make a home, for a week or a lifetime.

When you are ready to return to Italy, consider Liguria for a true adventure with the locals. Stop in Chiavari or let me help you find a place here for you to stay. I will meet on the promenade by the sea or by the market for a coffee. Ci vediamo dopo. See you soon.

Ciao for now!

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