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 Cinque Terre and the Gulf of Poets, 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.
One after another, generous beaches, minuscule yet gorgeous ports and amazing sceneries for exploring greet visitors, and turn into vivacious centers by night, with plenty of entertainment and shopping on offer. Some of these include: Sanremo, the city of flowers, famous for the Italian Music Festival and for its Casino; the refined towns of Bordighera and Alassio, with its 3 kilometers (almost 2 mi) of fine sand, along with Laigueglia and Varigotti, some of the gems embedded in the Riviera di Ponente.
Then comes Portovenere - facing Palmaria Island - then Lerici with its grand Medieval castle, elegant villas and lush gardens.
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 extensive woods of Liguria with their centuries-old trees, a true natural legacy, are an excellent alternative to traditional tourism. Immersion into the region's natural environments allows one to get to know and see the places where man, with love and dedication, has managed to cultivate the best possible fruits from thisland. Places full of history, culture and traditions, which witness the passage of ancient peoples coming from the sea.
The provinces of the region are: Genoa (the region's capital), Imperia, Savona and La Spezia.
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. The aristocratic dwellings that would host State visits were chosen by draw from the rolli, or public registers.
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 and even its external look is a wonder to behold. Inside, the Aquarium houses an entire marine world, in enormous and varied pools behind large windows: dolphins, seals, sharks and colorful fishes of all shapes and sizes create a breath-taking view for both grown-ups and children.
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.
Anytime one mentions the Italian Riviera, they are talking about Liguria: 186 miles of coast on a splendid sea, the most important feature of this region. The very sea offers a thousand ways to vacation in Liguria, a region that boasts some of the most beautiful marine life reserves in Italy: the Cinque Terre, Portofino, Berteggi, Gallinara and the famous Sanctuary of Cetaceans.
This area has the highest concentration of aquatic mammals in the Mediterranean Sea; whale watching enthusiasts can enjoy a fascinating and instructive experience on these “blue sea roads,” obeserving magnificent specimens of marine fauna. Your whale-watching excursion will most likely include a biologist on hand to disclose details and curiosities of cetacean life, including the regulations that aid in preserving their natural habitat.
The seabeds and treasures of the Ligurian Sea deserve an underwater 'stroll' for admiring the stunning view. Even those who are not scuba-diving experts can enjoy the enthralling experience of utilizing one of the many specialized diving centers in Liguria's most important sea resorts.
Snorkeling (or seawatching as the Italians call it) is perfect for those who wish to explore but not venture too far from the water's surface, and it is good for all ages. Accompanied by expert guides and with flippers, mask and wetsuit you can still observe from above the colors and variety of the flora as well as the many species of fish that call these waters home.
For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, Liguria is a real gym in the open air. The mountains, which stand majestically behind the riviera, are the ideal choice for trekking lovers. Rocks, valleys, streams and lakes, with the typical colors and scents of the Mediterranean scrub, make up the stunning natural framework of the Ligurian hinterland. Liguria offers many events, festivals and fairs.
Every year many famous Italian singers and new talents take part at the Festival of Italian Music in Sanremo. During the days of this musical event, the Comune of Sanremo puts up several cultural and tourist events to entertain the thousands of people who crowd the Town of Flowers.
Since 1962, Genoa plays host to the International Nautical Fair, a world-wide known event that gathers the most important exhibitors of this sector in about 300 000 square meters.
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).
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