Tiny Tellaro, one of the last villages lining the Ligurian coast before it melts into the region of Tuscany, is unique for many things. It’s designated as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy by the nation’s borghi piu’ belli campaign, but you don’t need someone to tell you that.
It’s full of muted colors that cover buildings worn by the sun and the sea, as they look down over a small harbor that opens into the Golfo dei Poeti (Golf of Poets), with Portovenere and the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto in the distance.
It’s hard to get to, not connected by the train that is the salvation of many of these small Ligurian fishing villages that lace the seaside. It’s quiet, a little further off the path of the Cinque Terre daytrippers, and on a beautiful September weekday, a perfect Ligurian paradise.
But what really takes Tellaro above and beyond is it’s famous octopus. Though octopus makes a mandatory appearance on every menu in town, it plays more than a gastronomic role in the village. Legend has it that centuries ago, Tellaro was (like many of the seaside villages in the region) fodder for pirate pillaging. The guardian had fallen asleep one fateful night as pirates approached the village. Tellaro’s protector, a giant octopus, sprung from the sea to ring the church bells and alert the sleeping citizens, who were able to escape. As a nod to local folklore and Tellaro’s many-armed savior, every year there is a festival the second week of August to commemorate the story.
You don’t need an octopus festival as an excuse to go to Tellaro, though – it’s a great side trip from Lerici and a perfectly preserved slice of Riviera charm.