The Baroque Splendour and Splendid Views of Cervo

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If you blink at the wrong moment on your Riviera train journey, you may miss it, but that would be a loss and a pity

We first discovered Cervo about a year ago when our train journey to some other place down the Italian Riviera had been interrupted, falling rocks having damaged the tracks, and a bus replacement service was taking us on to the road.

I am only mentioning this because from the train, you can easily fail to spot Cervo altogether: most trains do not stop there, and the tracks are perhaps running too close by the Old Town for you to get a good impression.

From the road, conversely, you have a splendid view of Cervo and will understand why it is considered one of the most attractive small towns in this part of northern Italy between the French border and Genoa.

"splendid views of Cervo from the road"

There are many hilltop villages in the region, but Cervo is special since it is a rare one of such villages that were built immediately by the sea. Most of these “fortress villages” were constructed further inland, to provide their inhabitants with safety from marauding pirates, but Cervo is located on a cliff and allows its defenders to strafe anybody who dares to approach it from the coast …

"splendid views of the coast from Cervo"

… although these days, piracy not being what it once was in the Mediterranean, the people who approach Cervo are mainly harmless and armed with nothing but their cameras. If they come at all, that is: we had the Old Town largely to ourselves on a weekday in January, but one can easily imagine that the place will feel a lot busier during the summer months.

I would advise you to approach Cervo town centre in a circular move, using the footpath outside the ramparts, the circonvallazione

"splendid views of Cervo and its streets"

… not so much to confuse any armed defenders but to enter the fortified town through the ancient northern gate, as has been the tradition for visitors throughout most of Cervo’s history.

"splendid views of Cervo and its old town"

Inside the walls of the ancient castello, which protects the northern gate …

"Cervo's fort"

… there is a museum whose reception doubles up as a tourist information office. Ask for an information leaflet and a map.

Read also: Follow the Monet

Various parallel streets run from here to the south. Take your time to explore one or two of them …

"splendid views of Cervo and its alleys"

… casting a glimpse at the many palazzi, 16th century residential homes of the town’s most prosperous inhabitants (plaques near the doorways provide you with some basic information about the buildings) …

"splendid views of Cervo in its old town"

… and perhaps finding a moment to step inside the Oratorio di Santa Caterina chapel which is decorated with late medieval fresco paintings …

"splendid views of Cervo and inside of its old churches"

… before you arrive at the high Baroque church of San Giovanni Baptista that towers so majestically above the town.

"splendid views of Cervo and its church"

On the terrace at the foot of the church, there is a friendly little cafe where you can have a cup of coffee or a snack in the sunshine …

"splendid views of Cervo"

… and enjoy the splendid views of Cervo.

"splendid views of Cervo over its rooftops"

It may be easy to overlook from the train, but there is a lot to see and enjoy in Cervo!

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13 comments to The Baroque Splendour and Splendid Views of Cervo

  • Cervo is truly a beauty: during summer evenings – in the main square facing the majestic baroque Chiesa dei Corallini and the Ligurian sea – there are open-air classical concerts that are a must-to-see and listen.
    Italian Western Riviera is not so known, so Cervo is never crowded even in August. We love to promote culture in our region with La Meridiana Hotel & Golf Resort.
    Many compliments for your photos shooting in Cervo!

  • It certainly felt that way, Mary. Would be interesting to see the town in the height of summer, though!

  • What a photogenic town and it looks so charming. That church and those streets make it look like a postcard perfect place to just relax and take a stroll. It looks like you guys had the town to yourselves :)

  • Glad we were able to help your planning, Celine! Happy walking!

  • Céline

    Thank you so much for your quick response !
    It is only a week ago that I discovered your website. I was looking for
    information about walks in the French Riviera. I really liked to read about how easy or challenging can be a trail. It helps my planning !

    To you and your wife, many trips and discoveries in this new year !


  • Absolutely, Celine. You first have to get to Ventimiglia. From there, you can take a train to Cervo. Not all trains stop at Cervo station. Check at the Trenitalia site for the schedules and to see which trains will stop there.

  • Céline

    Great pictures !
    Is it possible to go to Cervo by train from Menton, as a day trip ?

    Thank you,

  • Thanks, Lisa. Photos were great because the town was really lovely too!

  • Your photos are so beautiful that I can imagine myself walking here – what a lovely town!

  • Cervo was indeed a very pleasant surprise for us. Friends have said it is pretty and they were right. Their municipality also takes well care of their town, very clean, very organised.

  • What a beauty! I have never been there and it looks wonderful! So Italian! So picturesque! Amazing!

  • It really is amazingly scenic up there in Cervo, Jeff. Don’t miss it when you visit the Italian Riviera.

  • Wow!! So much beauty and so much to discover on this walk! I love all of the villages and architecture!!

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