“The city’s ‘salotto buono’ (good salon), the Lungomare Vittorio Veneto (Vittorio Veneto Promenade) welcomes visitors arriving in Rapallo, opening up before their eyes a perfect and fascinating setting: facing the sea, the necklace of palm trees, tall and soaring, acts as a green counterpoint to the row of stylish buildings that surround it and that host the big names of Rapallo’s catering and hospitality industry in their terraces.
In the centre, the Music Kiosk differentiates our waterfront from all the other waterfront towns and brings to mind the early 20th century period when Rapallo was among the pioneers of the new tourism of the time, one of the most popular destinations for European and overseas travellers.
Waterfront and castle
At the eastern end, the 16th century castle is a reminder of the town’s wealth of history and culture, while on the opposite side, the modern marina, frequented by large yachts, offers an image of a sophisticated and up-to-date resort: at a glance, the two souls of a complete town are condensed into one, one that lives by the sea, but has also been able to grow beyond its image as a summer resort.
The shops, both those with a long tradition and those recently opened, offer varied and quality shopping, always with an eye on the latest trends.
Thanks to a climate that makes it possible to organise open-air events all year round, the Lungomare is the scene of the most varied events: from light music concerts to sports events, from Christmas, Carnival and Easter initiatives to summer festivals, the black-and-white Lungomare’s red mantle of the promenade overlooking the rocks always proves to be the ideal setting to welcome the public.
Today, the waterfront is a prestigious calling card for the city and for the entire historic centre, which is located immediately behind the row of houses facing the sea, those same houses that until the mid-19th century, when Rapallo’s tourist fortunes began, were lapped by the waves or rested directly on the beach where the fishermen’s goiters were pulled ashore.
The Garibalda House
One of these houses is the Casa Garibalda, with its characteristic white and grey stripes, which has undergone a thorough restoration completed in recent years . It is one of the most significant palaces in the old town of Rapallo, also classified as a national monument. On the façade, the marble coat of arms of Admiral Biagio Assereto would indicate its dating to the 14th century, while the houses behind the porticoes must be considered older.
The marble columns as well as the black and white banded decoration embellished the building, which in the 19th century and for many years thereafter housed hotels and even a nightclub in the roof garden. A plaque outside the complex recalls that among the guests of the then ‘Pensione Suisse’ was the composer Jean Sibelius, who composed his Second Symphony Opus 43 here in 1901. On the building opposite, another plaque commemorates the stay of Friedrich Nietzsche, who composed the first part of ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ in 1882.
The Octopus Fountain
To the west, the promenade is preceded by a large square, obtained by covering the mouth of the San Francesco stream, in the centre of which stands the so-called Octopus Fountain, an original fountain with a large bronze octopus at its centre, the work of sculptor Italo Primi. The fountain has been removed due to a change in the road system for safety reasons to protect public safety, but it is planned that the beloved symbol of the square will return to its place, after careful restoration, at the end of complex waterfront redevelopment work.
To the east, the promenade ends with a sandy beach and the mouth of the Boate Torrent, preceded by the G.Verdi Gardens, with the War Memorial by sculptor Nicola Neonato, and the Rotonda Marconi, with the Christopher Columbus monument. Tall and imposing, the latter was erected in 1914 following a fund-raising campaign expressly desired in 1909 among the people of Rapallo who had emigrated to America, and is the work of the Italo-Argentine artist Arturo Dresco.The monument to Columbus is composed of a red granite base on which stand four allegorical figures: Neptune with a trident, the chained Prisoner, Faith extending her protective hand towards the hero, and History noting the great feat in her book. At the top centre, the large statue of the Genoese navigator is depicted with his right hand raised towards the sea and his finger pointing in the direction of the Americas.