Noli is a small resort, and one of the more attractive to visit along the Riviera di Ponente due to its setting, the sandy beaches, the castle and defensive walls on the hill above the town, and the medieval towers that dominate the historic centre. The village is listed among the 'most beautiful villages in Italy'.
Italy This Way comment: Noli is one of our favourite destinations in west Liguria because, unlike most riviera resorts, the beach and promenade is next to the medieval town - usually the two are separated by a steep hill! The village is also unusual in that fishing boats still operate from Noli and you will see many of these boats tied up along the top of the beach.
Your visit to Noli will most likely start with a walk along the long beach and seafront. The beach is mostly sandy with some strips of pebbles and rock and has frequently been awarded the Blue Flag award for its cleanliness and facilities, and the promenade is attractively lined with palm trees.
Behind the promenade, the buildings are bright and colourful and include several historic buildings such as the ancient bridge, a clocktower, and a street of arcades. There are several medieval towers and gateways and narrow streets of colourful houses to further enhance the town centre of Noli by giving it the feeling of being an 'authentic Italian village' and not just a tourist resort.
From here you can stroll into the historic centre of Noli, which is very pleasant to explore and just a few metres behind the beach. Here in the old town there are small squares with cafes and bars and lively shopping streets to explore, typically lined by attractive properties painted in faded pastel colours and featuring ironwork balconies.
The trapeze shaped tower in the heart of the old town called the Tower of Four Corners' was built in the 13th century and a project was proposed to demolish the tower and sell the bricks. Luckily the idea was outvoted by one vote and the tallest tower in the town was saved!
Among the most important buildings is the Cathedral of Saint-Peter, quite a small cathedral in the baroque style with a beautifully decorated interior including ceiling paintings, paintings and statues.
Several of the more imposing medieval houses have also preserved their original appearance and are particularly noteworthy such as Casa Pagliano (14th century), Casa Maglio (13th century) and Casa Repetto (14th century). Many of the buildings have information panels that include information in English and French.
Another unusual feature in the old town are the arches that cross the street between the buildingss - these have a structural function by helping to support the houses.
As you wander the streets of Noli you also get glimpses of the castle high above the town and the ancient defensive walls that run through the trees and down the hillside to reach the town. Noli has three different defensive walls: one around the castle built in the 12th century; another around the historic village added in the 13th century; and a third around the medieval residential area added in the 15th century.
At the southern edge of the the town centre you can see the roman style Church of San Paragorio. This is a small church (it was originally Noli cathedral) with a belltower and semi-circular apse that has largely retained its original romanesque characteristics. Be sure to go inside to visit the crypt and see the frescoes and a rare 13th century wooden bishop's chair.
Noli is a few kilometres along the Ligurian coast to the north-east of the popular resort of Finale Ligure, one of the most lively resorts and well worth exploring. Half way between Noli and Finale Ligure you will also enjoy the beach at Varigotti, one of the most attractive in the region.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Liguria guide.