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The Island, the Bay of Fables, the Bay of Silence - these are names which tell of the magic of an enchanted place that somehow even manages to heighten the fascination of the sea. Yes, because at Sestri Levante there are two seas: the lively, animated sea of the Bay of Fables, and the quiet, romantic sea of the Bay of Silence which is bound up with the ancient rituals of fishing and the rhythms of yesteryear. Together these two worlds account for the seductive power of a fishing village which seems to emerge almost naturally from the sea and which has become a welcoming and sophisticated tourist centre, with an additional touch of personality. After walking its narrow, shady streets, coming out into the more vivid light to apprehend the immense blue of the sea becomes an even more dazzling and gratifying experience.
And whichever of the two seas you choose to gaze at, one thing is certain: it is impossible to remain indifferent to so much beauty. In Sestri Levante one could write a composition about the many facets of beauty that meet the gaze. There is the obvious and grand beauty of the natural setting: the promontory-island which breaks the waves in a blue and foam-white sea; there is the contrast of the bare, unadorned rocks that drop sheer down to the sea, but are softened at the top by umbrella pines and cypresses, and by the infinite shades of green of the Mediterranean maquis. There is the beauty of the town centre and the beauty of the bathing centre. But here in Sestri Levante many other beauties reveal their magic only gradually: the coves among the rocks, the paths winding through the greenery that suddenly lead you to enchanting country chapels.
And there is again the sense of liveliness, of people on the move: an intriguing blend of the quiet rhythms of a seaside town and the more dynamic holiday rhythms of a prestigious locality. It is natural for a place that can boast a Bay of Fables to think of a prize for children's literature; and natural, too, to dedicate it to Hans Christian Andersen, the author who gave that name to one of the most beautiful corners of Sestri Levante. Today the Andersen prize is an internationally important event, and the initatives that have grown up around it have turned Sestri Levante into "the city of children".
The symbol of this vocation and also of the town's traditional hospitality is the extraordinary fountain in the public gardens where the fabulous and the fantastic mingle with echoes of far-off cultures: from the quintessentially Nordic figure of the mermaid to the central column whose free forms use the splendour of the enamel to evoke the art of the distant orient.
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