Moneglia, happiness is just a tunnel away
Moneglia it is one of the best kept secrets of Liguria, especially for foreigners. A place loved by those that know intimately the region of Liguria, never for the masses. Moneglia, wedged between its tunnels, hidden away from the rest of the world by nature. The last town of the province of Genoa, bordering the province of La Spezia: cross the next tunnel and you find yourself in Deiva the first town of another province. Moneglia, for us at This is Liguria, it’s a place of wonder: charming like the Cinque Terre and yet more sheltered, more real.
The well versed, those that have already been around this part of Liguria, will immediately associate Moneglia with Bonassola. Especially because of the massive wall of bricks with arches , on which the train used to run, that physically separate the central piazza from the beach. Nowadays on top of this there is the main coastal road and the promenade. It so nice and so scenic thanks to its few meters of elevation: like a stage it allows to see the whole bay and its colors, all in a glimpse. Under it, the old arches have been repurposed hosting restaurants, grocery stores and the local Pro Loco (something typically Italian in between a tourist office and local promoter of events to attract tourist to the town, normally it’s staffed by volunteers that are happy just to finance the local sagra.. oh boy what is a sagra... kind of a food show or local fair or religious celebration and a mix of it all 😉). The old train station has even become a police station.
Everything in Moneglia is still delightfully simple, a bit vintage, as in those Italian old movies about Riviera summer vacations back in the days. Above all, the peace and tranquility of Moneglia wins our heart. As that time, a night in November. The sea was so flat it was like a lake, the fishermen were coming back ashore, gliding on the water over a sea orange like the sun dipping over the horizon. Silence was soft as cotton and words came out muffled, as there was nothing else to say, nothing worth uttering while staring in mute contemplation. .
If the sand of Moneglia could talk, how many stories could it tell? How many delightul moment and carefree days: a sandwich on the sand, going out on a pedal boat, spring days when you put on a swimsuit but in the end the water is too cold and you end up reading a book… This beach is really amazing, one of the few beaches in Liguria with soft golden sand on which too lie unhindered by stones big or small. It is partly occupied by resorts equipped with beach umbrellas and sun beds (walk ins are normally accepted), but a large portion is accessible for free.
The seabed descends quite gently making this beach safe for inexperienced swimmers and children. Our region is however famous for its deep waters and there are few beaches with shallow sea beds, do not imagine long walks with ankle deep water to go far enough to swim. In any case being protected by breakwaters the sea is always quite calm here and the wind is generally not too annoying in this part of Liguria. This is easily one of the best beaches in Liguria for family with kids.
Moneglia Hotel: where to stay
Especially if you intend to stay in Moneglia it’s important to make up your mind well in advance on where to find accommodation. Moneglia is certainly not a big town and accommodation can be hard to find in the summer. Tourists in Moneglia are mostly second home owners, people that fell in love with this place and come back year after year for generations.
The hotels in Moneglia are located between the seafront area and the mountain behind it, a part of town that should not be underestimated when choosing a b & b in the area, you can enjoy that tranquility of the place, without giving up the convenience that you miss if you choose to stay to far out from the town. You will find good choice among our proposals, all properties hand picked by us at This is Liguria.
Moneglia and the tunnels
Moneglia has a pretty special relationships with the alternate one way tunnels that connect the place to the outside world. An all-encompassing symbiosis that permeates all aspects of daily life. Ask of Moneglia and expect to be told that by neighbouring town dwellers that the people of Moneglia are those that have to plan and think their day around the minutes 05-25-45. These are the 3 time every hour when the traffic light is green and allow you to leave the village in the direction of Riva Trigoso and Sestri Levante.
If you reach Riva Trigoso when the traffic light is red, you will have to be patient and wait 20 minutes. These tunnels keep the village isolated and connected at the same time. They slow things down, but they are essential to avoid the too long hilly road that is the only other way out of town. To drive in these ancient tunnels built in the 19th century for trains is quite an experience. The new railway tunnels run further inside the mountain, but these kilometers long old tunnels are so narrow that only one lane can be accommodated. The sea and the light appear from several openings at intervals and every time your are plunged again the darkness of these centuries old constructions that came into use in the age of steam trains. You can only marvel and imagine how many people have passed in over 100 years by train and think about the ingenuity of those who built these tunnels with the limited technology of the time.. and yet we still use them today with little changes. .
The tunnels of Moneglia bring life to the village, but sometimes also death when someone decides to “none will come, I will go anyway.. I cannot wait. Anyway what seems to us - used from the hectic pace of big cities - a pretty big inconvenient has become part of daily life here, something to accept serenely. It has made the character of the inhabitants so used to keep an eye on the clock.. 5 – 25 -45…
Moneglia, what to see
Moneglia takes its name from the Latin "Monilia", which in turn comes from jewel, a precious thing. What better guarantee, having already written in the name the destiny of being something beautiful?
Among the things to see in Moneglia begin with, two churches: the church of San Giorgio and that of Santa Croce , one to the west, the other to the east. Full of wood carvings by Maragliano and paintings by Cambiaso, a famous painter of the 16th century and of Monegliese origins. When visiting these churches, please pay attention to the parvises, made with sea pebbles from the beaches around the town. Do not forget to check out the Franciscan cloister of the church of San Giorgio, now transformed into a historic hotel, which - when you see it - immediately brings a sense of peace and serenity.
Things to see in Moneglia comes in couples. Among the things to see in Moneglia there are two manors, the fortress of Villafranca, and the fortress of Monleone. The first bombed by the "allies" but more or less recovered, is located on the slopes of the hill that rises to Lemeglio, an amazing view with its vineyard. The second, has rather particular features, as it has been transformed into a neo-Gothic style castle.
Two, in ancient times, were also the parts of Moneglia , before the stream crossing the village was covered. It runs now underground, a trickle most of the time, a dangerous monster that can awaken in autumn at times flooding the place.
Among the other things to see in Moneglia we particularly like is the church of Santa Croce: a marble plaque dating back to 1290 recalls that the Monegliesi at the battle of Meloria in 1284 were there, and they too contributed to destroy the fleet of the Pisan Republic in the biggest victory of the then Republic of Genoa. Next to the plaque, and it is impressive to know that it has been there for over 700 years,two chains ripped from the port of Pisa, taken in those days as a testimony of victory, are still on display.
Seeing Moneglia, then, and its historic center, is just that: feeling the Middle Ages become present and knowing that we are the same as yesterday. Feeling part of a continuum interspersed with squares and slates, dark colored doors and bright pink and canary yellow facades: because we are Ligurian and we like it this way.
To conclude, the final bonus: in Moneglia there is a botanical garden, near the fortress of Villafranca, dedicated to the Mediterranean and all the plants that grow around its shores.
How to get to Moneglia
To get to Moneglia you will have to deal with its famous tunnels. But that is only the last stretch. Coming from afar, what is the best way to reach Moneglia?
By car,there are two exits of the A12 motorway that can work for you: Sestri Levante for those coming from Genoa, and Deiva Marina for those coming from La Spezia. In both cases, from the toll booth the town center of Moneglia will be about 10 km away.
It is a very good option to go to Moneglia by train, the town has a dedicated station just outside the town center, located on the Genoa - La Spezia line. Not all trains stop here, actually, only the “locali” and regional ones. So, coming from the big cities of the north, it will be necessary to change train in Sestri Levante or Chiavari, or Genoa. To reach Moneglia by train from Tuscany and in general from southern Italy, however, it will almost always be necessary to change trains in La Spezia. Travel times: from Genoa from 55 to 90 minutes depending on the train, and about 5 euros per ticket. From La Spezia, coming from the other side, it takes just over € 4 and about 50 minutes to get to paradise, or at least to a place that we think looks a lot like it.
Moneglia - Cinque Terre
To move between Moneglia and Cinque Terre you definetely have to travel by train. There is no better solution. As a matter of fact, by car, the journey would become extremely uncomfortable. Not to mention the fact, that by car it is also difficult to move around the Cinque Terre, not only to reach them. Especially because once you get to one of the villages you will need to leave the car somewhere... good luck with that…
By boat, could be a good alternative, in summer there are some services operated by the Compagnia Navigazione del Golfo dei Poeti that from Moneglia and Deiva go as far as the Cinque Terre and Portovenere. In a nutshell: by bus it’s not actually an option and by car could get complicated. So let’s ride with Trenitalia: take advantage of the oldciuf ciuf to move between these top destinations of our Liguria and if the season is on our side, maybe consider a round trip riding the waves by boat. P >
Moneglia hiking and walking
There are a lot of trails in Moneglia : its hinterland is indeed full of paths, the ridges of its mountains are opportunities for small excursions and little adventures between agaves, myrtle plants and glimpses of the sea that leave you speechless every time. To begin with, it’s not complicated. No need to plan so carefully, there are no difficult destinations or particular peaks, everything is immediately in sight and the sea is always a guide: the queen of the walks in Moneglia is the trekking between Riva Trigoso and Deiva Marina, the two neighboring towns. And it will be an excursion to remember for a long time.
The trail between Deiva Marina and Moneglia, among other things, goes across the spectacular village of Lemeglio, the one you see coming out of the tunnels and that immediately make you say wow, I wonder what a view there must be from up there! The stretch that leads from Moneglia to Riva, is longer, but just as exciting. This in fact allows you to discover Vallegrande , and the ancient sighting tower of Punta Baffe , from which the view flies over the whole coastline opening from Punta Mesco, the majestic barrier that hides the secret of the Cinque Terre, up to Punta Manara , which protects Sestri Levante. At Punta Baffe you will find picnic tables and benches for a break in the Mediterranean scrub. As you rest there on a clear day you will see far out to the Maritime Alps: Mondolè, Marguereis ..
Rated top “borgo” of Liguria
Moneglia may be little known, but it is certainly much loved. In any contest on social media , launched by the official channels of the Regional government with the topic “most beautiful villages in Liguria”, the name of Moneglia name never fails to come up. The last one took place last summer and saw Moneglia finish second , just after Verezzi, "collecting 3317 reactions (...) with the participation of 131 thousand people, for 1.9 million views on Facebook and 167 thousand on Instagram. Numbers that are very big for a region of only 1.5 milion people and a guarantee that the place is indeed very much liked. Moneglia really has "its own why" and excellence, beauty, harmony are really at home here, and to appreciate it, you just need to go through a tunnel to find out.
What Andrea & Katerina think of MonegliaMoneglia a place so charming that most people would not change it for any other. They already leave the city with the idea to time the clock of the tunnels’ traffic lights 😊, the pass for happiness.
We love the splendid isolation of Moneglia, a little village where it seems life could go on even if the world around it fell to pieces: cultivated terraces, a few boats to fish and two churches to pray. Tranquility and relaxing atmosphere, ice cream and table football, onion focaccia: the taste of the Italian summer of the 80’s and 90’s as we remember it. Moneglia is the last bastion to the noise out there, it forces you to stop and wait, think about where you are going and why so fast? After all it’s a vacation isn’t it? We come here to breath the air of a time that seems to be long gone, but here it is still the present.
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