I stumbled upon the Italian town of Biassa quite by accident while looking for rooms to rent in the famed Cinque Terre—five pastel-colored towns built along the cliffs of Liguria—and I knew right away that the town would be perfect. While I love Italy in the summertime—full of laughter, sunshine, and gelato—I also crave peace and quiet, to get away from the crowds and experience something authentic, something all my own.
With just under 700 full-time residents and only a handful of savvy tourists, the mountain town of Biassa—in the Liguria region of northwest Italy—is that quiet, authentic Italian experience, a place where you can eat a whole pizza, practice a few words of Italian, and sneak away for some quiet after a day spent in the bustling cliff-top towns of the Cinque Terre just 20 minutes away by bus.
From Biassa, which sits in the hills at about 1,500 feet above sea level, you can see all the way down to the port town of La Spezia with its busy harbor. Pretty terra cotta rooftops and lush hunter green forest surround you, spreading across and around Biassa up and down the mountain. An old, lone church tower reaches above the town, chiming its bells for mass.
In Biassa, I found the best pizza I had in Italy. This surprised me because I’d taken pizza-making classes in Rome, ordered a pie or two in Florence, and essentially eaten my way across the Italian countryside. But there I was in a tiny, quiet mountain town far off the beaten track, eating the best pizza of my life at a simple restaurant called La Locanda del Gallese.
And while you’re in Biassa, head down to the Cinque Terre to walk the well-kept path along the cliffs between the five towns, rent a kayak in Monteroso (the only Cinque Terre town with a sandy beach) and take to the sea for an unusual and majestic view of the famed cliffs, and don’t forget to try the pesto and the limoncello (lemon liquor)—both sources of pride in the region.