Surrounding Towns

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Varese Ligure
Heading inland for about 20 km, you will find the Val di Vara. The area’s biggest town is the picturesque Varese Ligure. Set at the end of the Vara Valley, it is surrounded by rolling hills and the Apennines. It is also known as a "borgo rotondo" due to fact that the centre of the town is built in a circle around a small square which, in the summer, is the stage for some very entertaining open air theatre and opera.

Brugnato
Brugnato is another "borgo rotondo". It was once the seat of the bishop, which was moved to La Spezia in 1820. The renovated Abbey in the very heart of the town is worth visiting as well as the Bishop's apartments.
The Corpus Domini celebration is a remarkable demonstration of deeply rooted religious tradition: the streets are paved with beautiful images decorated with flowers. A restaurant worth visiting is the Trattoria dei Golosi.

Calice al Cornoviglio
Calice is situated at the top of Mount Cornoviglio at 1,162 metres above sea level. Dominated by an oversized Castello Doria-Malaspina (XII sec.), Calice overlooks the Apennines and the hills leading down to La Spezia . 

The Castle can be visited and it houses, among other things, the Pinacoteca Davide Beghe' a painter born in Calice in 1854.

Forte dei Marmi
This town is one of the best known, typically Italian, sea-side resorts
Its expensively priced "Bagni" with their umbrella and deck chair service decorate the wide beach strip in front of the town.
A good reason to visit Forte (as it's called among the cognoscenti) is its open air market which sells anything from shoes to linen and is generally known for its excellent quality/price ratio. It takes place all year round, on Wednesdays from 8.00 am to 1.30 pm.

Rapallo/Santa Margherita/Portofino
These are all well known resorts on the Italian Riviera. 
All three are worth visiting mostly for shopping and a taste of the easy going Riviera life. You will see huge boats anchored just a few metres from the Port's busy cafés and grand villas with meticulously kept gardens full of Mediterranean pine and palm trees. 
An unusual way to see some of this and maybe a little bit more is by visiting the Santuario di Montallegro. Perched high on a hill, it offers spectacular views of Rapallo, the bay, Santa Margherita and Portofino . The way to get there is by cable car, which is found not too far away from Rapallo railway station. 
The ride is about 10 minutes. 
The Santuario is where locals and pilgrims come to pray for help or thank the Madonna di Montallegro for help that has been granted and miracles. 
The interior of the church is covered with signs of gratitude which tell many stories: men saved at sea, railway men saved from trains, children saved from a car accident and many more. 
Some are paintings, some are pictures but most are elaborate silver hearts pinned to the wall which shimmer with the light of the chandeliers and the candles placed by the altars.