Tellaro and its Mythical Octopus

September 15, 2014 / Places
Tellaro, Liguria

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.  

Tellaro town

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.  

Tellaro view

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.

Tellaro harbor

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.

Tellaro coast

Christine Mitchell

by Christine Mitchell

Christine has a Master’s Degree in Food Studies and Culture from New York University, and spends most of her waking hours cooking food, serving food at La Cantina Di Miky, happily talking about food and writing about food – and wouldn’t have it any other way, except maybe with an Italian craft beer in her hand.

You can follow her adventures on her blog, and you can follow Monterosso’s continued progress on

8 Responses to “Tellaro and its Mythical Octopus”

  1. I have been to this village and can attest to its being inviting…nice archways and passageways, have painted one of them a few times. Worth a little visit!

  2. Rosanne Barrett

    Christine–great notes! But delete the apostrophe in “it’s famous octopus”. It’s means “it is”.

  3. About 10 years ago my husband and I walked to Tellaro from Lerici along an overgrown path above the sea through an ancient tiny abandoned village and down into Tellaro where we bought cheese, salami, and bread to eat on the rocks at the sea edge of the village. This walk and the village of Tellaro will always be one of my fondest memories of our many many Italian adventures over the years.

  4. Loved your article about Tellaro. Thanks. FYI, it’s only right to use “it’s” in place of “it is” or “it has”. Not as a possessive. Christine got it wrong in the narrative but right in the title of her blog, then it got edited wrongly in the Notebook in the title and unedited in the narrative.

  5. Super find. Will keep this on a “definitely to see” list. Many thanks, Christine. What about some recipes?

  6. Joanna (Giovinozzo) Hansen

    It is impolite to correct someone’s grammar unless they have asked you to. Just enjoy the article without being so picky.


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