Restaurants here range from sand-on-the-floor rustic to surprisingly refined. And fresh seafood is the order of the day. Locals claim that Da Malvina's (011-39-0187-813-761) fritto misto and spaghetti with clams are the best in town. At the more casual Degli Aranci (011-39-0187-813-605), request a garden table and snack on fried marinated anchovies or ravioli with walnut sauce. For snacks, Paninoteca Pippilan's (no phone, Via S. Erasmo, 1) crunchy Bonassola sandwich (Parma ham, cheese, tomato, arugula) is ridiculously addictive.

DO n

Daytime in Bonassola is all about the beach: It's wide, clean, public, and safe for even the tiniest bambino. For those who want them, private clubs have restaurants, changing cabanas, activities for kids, and daily and weekly rates. In the moonlight, fishermen cast from the cool, wet sand. The gorgeous Cinque Terre - now a national park - are easily accessible via a frequent light-rail train, a magnificent mountain road, and regular ferry service. The traditional way to see them, though, is to hike from town to town. (The hills along this coastline offer some of the best hiking and biking in Europe.) Sightseeing boats go to Portofino and Portovenere, and fishing, sailing, and other water sports are easily arranged.

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While there are better towns for shopping (Milan, Rome - this is Italy, after all!), Bonassola has its own treasures. Ferramenta Casalinghi (011-39-0187-813-786) and Maglione (011-39-0187-813-616) sell lovely Tuscan tableware and mortar-and-pestle sets that are made from local marble.