Looking for Italy beach towns? Tellaro Italy is a hidden gem and one of the best places to visit in Italy. Here are tips for visiting this coastal town.
A few months ago, Alex and I took a dream trip to Italy, Croatia and Spain with our toddler son Larson. The first stop on our trip was magical Tellaro Italy, one of the best coastal towns in Italy. If you’re like me, you’re wondering: where the heck is Tellaro? Since we wanted our first city to be all about sparkling Mediterranean waters, Alex spent hours visiting some of the best beaches in Italy. He came up with Tellaro, a coastal town near Cinque Terre. But unlike Cinque Terre, it’s relatively undiscovered. As a family group of 8 people including 3 adventurous kids (Alex’s mom, brother and sister in law, and our niece and nephew were in tow), we ventured to this stunning little town. And all 8 of us fell head over heels for it. Keep reading for photos and everything there is to know about Tellaro Italy.
Where is Tellaro Italy?
Tellaro is located on the Mediterranean Coast, on the northwestern side of Italy. It’s in the Liguria region of Italy (the Italian Riviera), which is also where the more popular Cinque Terre villages are located. The Cinque Terre (literally “Five Lands”) are five incredibly picturesque coastal villages that hug the Mediterranean cliffs. They’re dramatic and charming, but also incredibly touristy. I visited Cinque Terre back in 2003 when the villages were just starting to be discovered, and a handful of backpackers would hike between the villages. These days, the towns are swarming with tourists. So Tellaro was the perfect spot for us: basically an undiscovered Cinque Terre!
How do you get to Tellaro Italy?
The reason that Tellaro Italy is relatively quiet is because it’s a little harder to access than some of the other Italy beach towns. We flew into Rome and drove to Tellaro by car: it was about a 4 hour drive from the Rome airport. Since we were traveling with 8 people, we actually rented an 8 passenger van! Driving in Italy can be a little challenging, so it’s not for the faint of heart. The roads and signage can be confusing for Americans. We’d recommend driving in Italy only if you have previous driving experience in Europe.
If you’re not up for driving, you can get to Tellaro by taking a train to La Spezia and catching a bus out to Tellaro (at the end of the line!).
Where did you stay in Tellaro?
Somehow Alex found the best Airbnb on the planet for our stay in Tellaro: Villa Tregia! This rosy villa with French doors opening right onto the Mediterranean Sea was like a dream. One of my favorite memories is the squeals of my niece Julia when we first came to the house. We’re staying HERE?! Some of my favorite moments were sitting on the veranda and starring in awe at the sparkling blue Mediterranean waters that changed colors at different times of the day. This place has 4 bedrooms, a huge veranda and a private terrace right on the sea where we had some of our meals. It was also a 5 minute walk in one direction to the beach, and another 5 minute walk to the town center in the other direction. It was truly perfection.
This Airbnb was on the higher end of our budget. But since we had 8 people, splitting the price of this home between a few families made it not that much more expensive than a hotel stay. And to us, having the experience of a house right on the ocean was worth it! Plus, having our own kitchen and separate bedrooms for the kids was a priority for us, so we found Airbnbs in Italy were the way to go.
The only downside to this location, if there was one, was the mosquitos! While some of our travelers were unphased, I got massive bites all over my legs that were pretty uncomfortable. It’s common in this region of Italy to have lots of bugs in this season, and I was happy to take one for the team to experience the incredible beauty of this space. But just a note if you’re considering visiting this region and are sensitive to bug bites!
What is there to do in Tellaro?
Tellaro is a perfect sleepy beach town hideaway for living a quaint Italian life for a few days. To us and what we were looking for, it was one of the best places to visit in Italy. Here are a few of the activities that we enjoyed in Tellaro:
Going to the beach! Obviously. Tellaro is right on the Mediterranean and there’s a lovely small beach. Our Airbnb was in walking distance of the beach, which made it perfect for daily trips. And, it’s FREE!
Walking to town. Imagine the cutest Italy beach town imaginable. Then double that, and that’s what downtown Tellaro is like! It’s right on the Mediterranean and super sleepy. We were there during high tourist season, and there weren’t many people in the downtown area. Alex and I did an incredible golden hour shoot and got some amazing images — even of our toddler Larson! Because Tellaro is so small, you can walk everywhere.
Hiking. One day, Alex and his brother went on a hiking trail and found a secret beach (Spiaggia La Marosa). It was a pretty hardcore hike, but main the view at the end was worth it. This hike would be only for the most hardcore hikers. If you’re looking for the trail, ask a local for tips.
Eating, eating, and eating. Because that’s what you do in Italy, right? Here are some of our favorite food experiences in Tellaro — see below.
What restaurants do you recommend in Tellaro?
Ristorante Gambero Nero This restaurant was right up the hill from our rented house, so it was the perfect fit for our first night when we were all jet lagged. The waiter took our orders for family style plates: huge platters of squid ink ravioli, pesto pasta with the most flavorful chunky pesto, whole baked fish, and spaghetti with clams. Maybe it’s because it was our first dinner together, but I’ll never forget looking around the table and thinking: THIS is it! The big family dinner in Italy. Here I was sipping a dry white feeding my toddler ravioli stuffed with lobster. Was I dreaming? There’s also something about waitstaff in Italy that is magical. Our waiter was not just there to serve food: he was there to help our family to enjoy ourselves. He was funny, charming, and knowledgeable. And instead of just bringing dishes, he helped guide us through the menu and seemed like he was having as good of a time as we were. It’s a memory seared in my mind forever.
Il Forno in Piazzetta This place was ultra casual and had all sorts of pizza and flatbread options — AND gelato. It was the perfect place for lunches with kids! The gelato was decent, not mind blowing, but it was perfect for the casual vibe we needed. (The best gelato we had in Italy was in Rome; post coming soon!) Here’s the selection of pizza and flatbreads in the photo below:
- Pizza ligure: a style of filled pizza (crust on the top and bottom) typical to the region
- Pesto pizza
- Farinata: a flat pancake made with chickpea flour
- Spinach & ricotta torta: this was our favorite! A pie of spinach and ricotta with a flaky crust
Cooking at home. One of our favorite things was going to the market and cooking something simple at home in our villa. Here’s a super simple meal we made in our villa kitchen using goods from the market:
- Cheese, cured meat, and marinated artichokes
- Veggies with fresh buffalo mozzerella, topped with olive oil and salt
- Pesto pasta
Is Italy good for kids?
Main takeaway: Italy is great for kids! On this trip, we traveled with three kiddos: our son Larson (17 months), nephew Miles (5 years old), and niece Julia (8 years old). The kids absolutely adored being in Italy. There was so much for them to do. I think our niece and nephew would have been happy spending the entire day at the beach each day!
But they also loved the cultural aspects: trying new foods at all the restaurants and the market, walking into town, seeing the boats, and taking our day trips (below). That said, I think we have some pretty adventurous kids on our hands! Julia and Larson scarfed down octopus and mussels like it was no big deal. And gelato, gelato…and more gelato!
Eight-year-old Julia spent months before the trip reading up on Italy and Leonardo da Vinci. She loved learning about the culture! As Aunt Sonja, I gave her a diary as a present when the trip started. Each day we wrote in our diary what we loved about that day. We left space for her to add photos to the book when we returned. As time goes by, I hope this trip will be a formative memory for her.
Alex and I are big proponents of traveling early with kids and exposing them to new cultures. It was exciting to see the way that different personalities and ages experienced them! Larson being only 17 months had a total blast. At that age, he was pretty low maintenance in terms of what was a good time! Eating gelato, watching dogs, and dipping his toes in the Mediterranean were all equally exciting.
Do you need a stroller? We did not bring a stroller and instead carried our toddler Larson in our LILLEbaby carrier! There are lots of stairs in Tellaro, so we preferred the freedom of the carrier. Because everything was pretty close together and we were close to town, Tellaro was easy to navigate.
What’s the best time to visit Italy?
Our trip to Tellaro Italy was right at the height of tourist season in July. Was this the best time to visit Italy? No. But, this was the only time that we could fit all of our schedules to visit. And, there’s just something about summer in Italy that has a lightness to it! Experts will tell you that the best times to visit Italy are April to May or mid September through mid October. However, we’ve gone to Italy in the summer a handful of times and have still loved it.
What day trips can you do from Tellaro Italy?
There are some great day trip options from Tellaro. For our day trips, we went to Pisa and Cinque Terre. Here are some of our tips and photos.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is not too far from Tellaro, basically in the middle of fields. I was surprised when we passed it on our way to Tellaro: it looked like an amusement park on the side of the highway. But sure enough, there was that signature tower: the real one, not the Fun House version of it! Since Pisa is only 1 hour from Tellaro, we decided to take a day trip to check it out. All the rumors are that Pisa is extraordinarily touristy. Did we find this to be true? ABSOLUTELY. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most touristy places I’ve ever visited! The moment we got into town, we hit a swarm of people from all of over the world taking photos of themselves holding up the tower. However, we found there was a way to do Pisa and not be too overwhelmed. And we ended up having a great time!
Can you go into the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Yes! But you’ll need tickets. To get Leaning Tower of Pisa tickets, we recommend buying them in advance here. We did not buy our tickets in advance, and the next available time for tickets didn’t work with our plan that day. However, there are other things to do in Pisa! You can go to the Cathedral and Baptistry, both free. We were surprised that the Leaning Tower of Pisa just one part of the massive church complex: the Cathedral and Baptistry are beautiful as well. Since it was a hot day, we sat on the grass in the shade of the Cathedral and let the kids roll around in the grass. Though it was simple, that’s one of my favorite memories of Pisa.
Where to Eat in Pisa
The other way to escape the crowds in Pisa is to spend time in the town of Pisa itself! Once we got away from the tower, it quieted down right away. Pisa is a charming little city and we enjoyed exploring the streets. Alex found a lovely little sandwich shop off the beaten path where we had some excellent artisan sandwiches called L’Ostellino. Think flavor combinations like: Cappicolo, pecorino, artichoke, olive tapenade, and Pecorino, pears, honey, walnut, rocket. We loved the simple, elegant combinations and it was an intimate space. This little shop even inspired our recipe for these Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacked Sandwiches. We’d recommend checking it out if you’re in Pisa as a casual but delicious lunch. Since we were only in Pisa for a few hours, we didn’t try any more restaurants. If you’ve been to Pisa and have restaurant recommendations, let us know in the comments below!
The other day trip we planned from Tellaro was Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre are some of the best coastal towns in Italy: five villages nestled into the cliffs. When I visited Cinque Terre 15 years ago, Cinque Terre hiking was the thing to do. All the backpackers we ran into were hiking the trails between the villages. I remember being awed by the bright blue waters and the quaint villages hugging the coastline. (After getting film photos from my point and shoot developed after my trip, I was so disappointed the photos barely did it justice. How times have changed!) Since my last visit, Cinque Terre has gotten more touristy, hence our decision to stay in Tellaro. However, we wanted to experience Cinque Terre for a day. To get there, we drove to La Spezia (about 1 hour away), and rode the train in to Cinque Terre.
All our guide books advised to be very careful on the trains because there are pickpockets when the tourist season is high. Since we were with 3 kiddos, it wasn’t the safest feeling. However, we all made it in one piece and had no issues! We visited two of the towns, Corniglia and Vernazza. Corniglia required going up a large amount of steps, so there was a lot of complaining from the older kids (!). The town is the quietest of the Cinque Terre, but not the most picturesque. However, we got a killer Basil Gelato at Alberto Gelateria, so that was the highlight! Our next stop was Vernazza.
Vernazza is incredibly picturesque and had just the views we were looking for! It required hiking up out of the city to get these lovely views, which was very sweaty on a hot day. (We left a few of the adults with the kids and just a few of us went up to get these photos.) Vernazza in July was very busy with tourists. It made us all thankful for quiet little Tellaro! Our most memorable experience in Vernazza was eating at Ristorante Belforte. It’s in an old castle and has incredible views of the water. We showed up right when they opened and somehow got a table even though most of them were reserved (we’d recommend reserving a table if you go). They led us out to a balcony surrounded by water on three sides and we all about fainted! Our waiter was hilarious and entertained the kids by wearing different hats every time he came out. The food was decent — good, but not our best food experience of the trip. However, the atmosphere was so fantastic that it remained a highlight to everyone on our trip.
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Our family had an incredible time in Tellaro that we’ll truly remember forever—especially those incredible family style meals lingering on for hours. Have you been to Italy or Tellaro? If not, what have been your most memorable vacations? We’d love to hear any questions or additions you have in the comments below!
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About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.