Italy Today

Discovering Italy's secret relics in Monterosso del Mare

An alternative itinerary to enjoy the Cinque Terre

Discovering Italy's secret relics in Monterosso del Mare

Claudia Astarita


Italy is full of cultural heritage and there are many historical relics that aren't know to the majority of tourists visiting the country. A remarkable one is the "Gigante",  a 14 meter high image of Neptune, the ancient sea god, holding the waves . The statue is located at the end of a popular sunbathing beach in the Italian riviera town of Monterosso del Mare (one of the five villages in the Cinque Terre). The sculpture was originally meant to decorate the seaward edge of the stylish Villa Pastine and the architect Francesco Levacher  drew the first project.

Italian sculptor Arrigo Minerbi, whose works were praised by poet and novelist Gabriele D'Annunzio, built it from concrete in 1910. Minerbi was also the author of the famous bronze doors on the Duomo in Milan.  The devastation caused by allied bombs have heavily damaged the giant figure, turning it into an armless ruin. The rough seas during a terrible storm in 1966 further damaged its figure, only to give it a romantic weathered charm. The Gigante quickly became an iconic symbol of the town, and it still attracts the well-informed tourists.

Other attractions in Monterosso del Mare include the Castle, the parish church of St. John the Baptist, the old convent, which is visible from all parts of the Cinque Terre and is a prime destination for tourists thanks to the "Crucifixion", attributed to Van Dyck, and, of course, the marvelous beach.  On top of that, visitors can enjoy the local cuisine: Mediterranean seafood is plentiful in the town's restaurants. Anchovies of Monterosso are a local specialty designated with a Protected Designation of Origin status from the European Union: a dish not to be missed after wandering along the little village streets or sunbathing on its shores.

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