Liguria is in north-western Italy, bordering with France. The region features impressive mountains and lovely rolling hills, colored by the green Mediterranean turf and overlooking the Ligurian Sea. The two are divided by a high, indented coastline.
Liguria is a multi-faceted sliver of the Peninsula, where differences weave together to create a wide array of things to do and see during a visit here.
Nature, mountains, culture, entertainment and night life: all one has to do is choose.
The waters of this section of the Mediterranean are an enormously important feature of the region, with its characteristic rocky coasts interrupted by small coves, and beaches of fine golden sand. The Ligurian Sea also attracts several specimens of sperm whales, rorquals and dolphins, who find their natural habitat and live safely in this area known as the “Sanctuary of Cetaceans.”
The Cinque Terre and the Gulf of Poets, Portovenere and Lerici, the Gulf of Tigullio, Genoa and Paradise Gulf, the Riviera delle Palme and the Riviera dei Fiori make up the famous coast of Liguria which stretches from Ameglia to Ventimiglia, for more than 300 km (186 mi). During an itinerary so spectacular for the beauty of the land and seascapes, we can see the most famous tourist resorts of Liguria: Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, Sestri Levante with its enchanting Baia del Silenzio (Silent Bay), and Chiavari.
The provinces of the region are: Genoa (the region’s capital), Imperia, Savona and La Spezia.
What to see
Liguria possesses a number of charming attractions, some of them classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO for their uniqueness and their historical and natural value.
One of these sites is Genoa, a multi-faceted city that combines the ancient with the modern, the past with the present, colors with shadows. This city belongs to the sea and the sea belongs to it; its culture, places, food and buildings tell the story of the old Maritime Republic.
You can still breathe its ancient atmosphere walking among the carruggi, the narrow alleys of the old town of Genoa. Here we can find the Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli, an extraordinary architectural work of the 16th Century built to host politicians and aristocrats.
Palazzo Spinola di Pellicceria, with its precious paintings by Rubens, Van Dyck and Bernardo Strozzi; Palazzo Lercari Parodi; Palazzo Campanella and Palazzo Podestà are the beautiful palaces of the Renaissance that you can admire while visiting this unique place.
If you visit Genoa, you absolutely must stop at the Aquarium, one of the most complete and technologically-advanced marine life centers in Europe. The Aquarium was designed by famous Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Cinque Terre, in addition to Porto Venere and the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto are another UNESCO Site in Liguria. Those who visit these places will hardly forget the charm and atmosphere of the five seaside towns of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. 18 km (11.2 mi) of coast enclose and guard a little paradise: the rocks just a short drop from a limpid sea and the colors and scents of the earth combine harmoniously with the typical buildings hugging the coast in order to create a unique scenery. Portovenere, an ancient fishing town whose colorful buildings, one next to the other, mix their iridescent colors with the deep blue of the sea, is the start of an archipelago of sorts that ends with the above-mentioned islands.
What to taste
When we speak about Ligurian food, we immediately think of the famous pesto, a tasty sauce made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan, pecorino and extra-virgin olive oil, used to flavor trenette (pasta) or ravioli with borage leaves.
Liguria is also a region of vineyards and olive groves that produce excellent extra-virgin olive oils and quality wines, like Ormeasco and Rossese from Dolceacqua, Vermentino, Ciliegiolo and Bianchetta from Genoa, Albarola, and Pollera Nera from the Riviera di Levante, and Pigato from Salea d’Albenga.
Seafood and fish dishes are obviously renowned: fish soups like ciuppin and buridda with stockfish, as well as stuffed and fried sardines.
Among the meat dishes we can find the cima genovese (cold stuffed veal), veal stuffed with greens and cheese, or stewed hare with famous taggiasche olives, pine nuts and rosemary. The most famous stuffed pie is torta Pasqualina (Easter pie), thin pastry stuffed with greens, cheese and eggs.
Finally, we cannot forget fugassa, a soft and thick focaccia covered with onion slices and olive oil, or the thin farinata, a baked savoury pancake made with chickpea flour.
The traditional desserts of this region are pandolce genovese, amaretti and cubeli (tiny butter cookies).