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The tiny town of Bonassola, wedged between mountains and sea on Italy's Ligurian coast, is hardly a secret: Shipping and commercial fishing gave way to tourism here long ago. And when Hemingway happened upon Bonassola, he called it "so sweet, unforgettable, inexhaustible." As other Italian resort towns have grown prohibitively expensive - or packed wall-to-ancient-wall with tourists - a town such as this, which feels much the same as it did 30 or 40 years ago, becomes especially enticing. While many American travelers know the five famous towns of the Cinque Terre, Bonassola, just a few miles farther north, offers a much mellower vacation alternative. - Julie Mautner


The most distinguished hotel in Bonassola is the Hotel Villa Belvedere ($63 to $131; 011-39-0187-813-622, www.bonassolahotelvillabelvedere.com); its hillside location is a mere five-minute hike from town. La Francesca ($88 to $250; 011-39-0187-813-911, www.villaggilafrancesca.it) offers private bungalows, a pool, tennis courts, and great views. And both Albergo Delle Rose ($48 to $104; 011-39-0187-813-713, ­
www.hoteldellerosebonassola.it) and Hotel Lungomare ($76 to $110; 011-39-0187-813-632, lungomar@tin.it) sit just steps away from the beach, while Hotel Pensione Moderna ($78 to $106; 011-39-0187-813-662, www.pensionemoderna.it) prides itself on the traditional Ligurian recipes of Eleonora Di Zoppi, 84, the niece of the original owner.

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