Diano Marina, Northern Italy September – October 2022. Fantapizza restaurant 15€ + 1.50€ for the starter
As the name suggests, this is a pretty marina along the northern coast of Italy. The sandy beach and long promenade are perfect for a leisurely stroll, with lots of little restaurants and cafes to enjoy while you watch the world go by. It wasn’t too busy when we were there as most things were closing down for the end of season, but it is still a popular spot for local families to meet up and enjoy the local food.
We were here as the base for our 8-day coach holiday so half board at the hotel and an excursion most days, but we made time to visit a local restaurant one evening instead of eating at the hotel. Called Fantapizza, there was a wide menu choice, not just pizza. We chose the seafood risotto for two which we expected to be served in one large dish. Instead, it was beautifully presented on two platters and was one of the best seafood risottos we have had anywhere!
At first sight, the restaurant looks a bit like a cafeteria – red checked plastic covered tablecloths, a hard tiled floor (very noisy when chairs dragged across), and chairs not so comfy. However, we found it was very popular with locals as several large family groups were eating there. It was soon clear why it is so popular. Superb freshly-prepared food is provided at an exceptionally low price for what you get, including warm pizza slices and olives as a standard starter. Finish off the bottle of smooth, white wine (18€) in the covered patio area – a perfect evening.
Wednesday is market day, stalls just a short walk from the hotel but covering a big area so comfy shoes were a must. Carry on walking along the sea front into the town or catch a bus in either direction. Whichever option you choose, this is a good base to explore from.
Visit nearby Imperia and look out for Piccardo’s in Piazza Dante. It looks like an expensive café bar, but an Aperol Spritz plus snacks is only 5€ each – brilliant waiter service at such a good price. It is definitely a bargain as we had to refuse the snacks with the second glass (yes, we felt obliged to check if it was as good the second time!) because we had had enough food, so a strange look from the waiter. A bit different from the Aperol Sprit at La Gritta on the harbour front in Portofino, almost four times the price at 18€.
This is an interesting region of northern Italy with lots of attractive towns and marinas to see, although for us we would not choose to visit again. If we did, it would have to include more trips out on the local bus or trains to see more of the coastline.