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Liguria

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Washed by the Ligurian Sea and dominated by the Ligurian Alps and Ligurian Apennines to the north, Liguria is one of Italy’s smallest regions, worldwide famous for its amazing Cinque Terre, that keeps many more treasures.

 

Piazza de Ferrari, Genova

Piazza de Ferrari, Genova

 

Where to stop during your itinerary through the region? First of all in these ten places:

 

1. Cinque Terre: five small picturesque villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore) perched on the sea and in close symbiosis with nature;

 

2. Genoa: famous for its old harbor and its aquarium, but also for its narrow carruggi e and its historic city center (the largest in Europe);

 

3. Portofino: an exclusive destination for international jet set, just east of Genoa, well-known for its pastel colored houses, its small port and small bays;

 

4. Dolceacqua: a small medieval hamlet in the backcountry, on the west side of the region, made famous by Claude Monet, who was captured by its suggestive bridge;

 

5. Il Golfo dei Poeti:  the Gulf of La Spezia has always been a preferred destination for writers and artists such as Lord Byron, George Sand, P.B. Shelley, Montanelli, Soldati and D’Annunzio;

 

6. Sanremo: an elegant seaside resort, it is very famous for its music festival and its Carnival, as well as its beaches and seafront;

 

7. Camogli: nestled in the rocks in the Gulf of Paradise, it is a charming village full of hiking trails, like the one that takes to the San Fruttuoso Abbey;

 

8. La Riviera delle Palme: from Varazze to Andora, it is a cost which include renowned holiday resort, such as Alassio, Loano, Albenga, the Baia dei Saraceni and Finalborgo;

 

9. Triora: sadly noted for witch trials in the 1500s, it is a small hamlet in the backcountry with an interesting ethnographical museum and a witch festival;

 

10. Taggia e Arma di Taggia: divided between the seaside resort (Arma di Taggia) and the historic center (Taggia), they invite to discover the Argentina Valley, among hiking trails and motorcycle riding routes.

 

The suggestive villages of the Cinque Terre (meaning “Five lands”) with their colored houses, cliff-hanging trails and terraced slopes, are Unesco World Heritage Sites since 1997 together with the town of Porto Venere and Palmaria, Tino e Tinetto, small isles in the western end of the Gulf of La Spezia.
In 2006, also Genoa got this recognition for its “Strade Nuove”, four streets in the center of the city from the late 16th and early 17th centuries built by the Genoese aristocracy that holds the “Palazzi dei Rolli”, wonderful noble villas in Renaissance and Baroque style that tell of the greatness of the city to the world.

The Liguria region is a destination recommended both for those who like relaxation and for dynamic people: with its jagged land, its hills, peaks and cliff-hanging villages, is the ideal spot for hiking or bicycling, diving or paragliding, as well as visiting villages rich in history.

 

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

 

There are several beaches where you can enjoy the sun and the sea: the list of the most beautiful include the Baia del Silenzio, in Sestri Levante, the Spiaggia di San Fruttuoso in Camogli (where, set in the rocks, is the scenic San Fruttuoso Abbey), the Baia dei Saraceni in Varigotti, the Spiaggia di San Lorenzo al Mare, the Spiaggia di Bergeggi and the Baia di Paraggi in Santa Margherita Ligure.

 

The best areas for diving are the Cinque Terre Marine Area, where you can dive in shallows, relics and caves, the Marine Protected Area of Portofino, with more than twenty diving sites between Santa Margherita Ligure and Camogli, Cape Noli and the Protected Marine Area of the Island of Bergeggi, along the western Riviera, also suitable for beginners. Without neglecting Camogli, where, in its waters, at 17 metres depth, is the submerged statue of the Christ of the Abyss, protector of divers.

 

The Ligurian Sea is part of the Ligurian Sea Cetacean Sanctuary, a marine area between Liguria, Sardinia and France inhabited by cetaceans: taking part in a boat trip, it is easy to spot dolphins and there are also whale watching tours from Savona, Genoa or Loano to spot sperm whales, fin whales, turtles and flying fish.

 

Liguria offers many opportunities for trekking enthusiasts. Hiking trails cross the whole region: among the most popular are the trails in the Cinque Terre, like the Sentiero Azzurro that winds along the coast connecting all the five villages, the Via dei Santuari, that connects five different sanctuaries (on foot, by bike or on horseback), the trail half-way up from Manarola to Corniglia or from Levanto to Monterosso, or the 14 km-long trail from Portovenere to Riomaggiore, in the Golfo dei Poeti, where are three parks (the Cinque Terre National Park, the Portovenere Regional Park and the Montemarcello-Magra Regional Park) or the Panoramic path from Sestri Levante to Moneglia, 15 km long. The Alta Via dei Monti Liguri runs through all the region, 440 kilometers from Lerici to Ventimiglia, deeper into the hinterland. Thanks to the mild climate of the Ligurian Appennine, the trails can be pleasantly covered also in winter.

 

Among the cycling itineraries recommended is the Ciclabile dei Fiori (“Cycle lane of the flowers”), that entirely winds along the seafront from San Lorenzo a Mare to Ospedaletti, once traveled by the train (currently 24 kilometers but supposed to become 60 in the next future), the Ciclovia dell’Ardesia (35 km) from Lavagna to the backcountry valleys, also fit for kids, or the short, suggestive Cycle Path from Levanto to Framura, made out of the old railway.

 

Among other sports, Liguria is very popular for climbers who want to enjoy a sea view, especially in Finale Ligure and Porto Venere, paragliding on the sea (in Bergeggi or in the Gulf of Tigullio), rafting and canyoning (for example in Val di Vara) and skiing (in Liguria you can ski in Monesi di Triora, close to Imperia).

 

Other activities to do include a visit to the beautiful Toirano Caves, in Borghetto Santo Spirito, suitable also for families with children, or the Gambatesa Mine, close to Genoa, that can be visited with a miniature train, or a visit to the Park of Val d’Aveto, in the province of Genoa, the only place in Italy inhabited by wild horses.  

 

A must-see place for families with kids is the Aquarium of Genoa, located in the old harbor of Genoa, the Città dei Bambini, a science and technology center for kids in Genoa, and Le Caravelle waterpark in Ceriale, in the province of Savona.

 

Want to take part to an unmissable event? Among the best famous events in the region is Sanremo in Fiore, the Carnival of Sanremo, with its famous Carnival floats made of flowers, the Infiorata in Pietra Ligure on occasion of the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Manarola Nativity Scene, in the Cinque Terre, the biggest lighted nativity in the world, the Stella Maris Festival, a traditional celebration to the Madonna by the inhabitants of Camogli on the first Sunday of August, and the Autunnonero Ghost Tour, a mystery and legend festival taking place in Triora, the famous “village of witches”.

The Ligurian cuisine has the scents of the sea and of basil, basil that combined with oil, garlic, cheese and pine nuts becomes pesto, one of its most famous specialties. A key ingredient of the local cuisine is fish but also vegetables, without neglecting traditional focaccia and farinata.

 

Trofie al pesto

Trofie al pesto

 

If you want to start with an appetizer, you can choose a salad of fish and shellfish, such as Cappon magro, a sumptuous, appetizing combination of fish and vegetables, or frisceu, fritters with lettuce, bianchetti and salted codfish, and quiches, like torta Pasqualina, stuffed with chards, Parmesan cheese and eggs or farinata di ceci, one of the most famous Ligurian specialties.

 

A typical first course of the Liguria cuisine is trenette or trofie with pesto, a sauce made with extra-virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Similar to ravioli, pansotti alla genovese are instead filled with vegetables, eventually to combine with a walnut sauce; if you want to taste a first course with fish, you can opt for fish ravioli, with many variations, also with vegetables.

 

As for second courses we recommend you cima alla genovese, veal meat filled with eggs, peas, artichokes, pistachios, pine nuts, ham and sweetbread; for those who enjoy fish mackerel with peas, of course with local fish, buridda, originating from Genoa, with cuttlefish, peas and tomato, or fish alla ligure, with fish to choose from seabass, gilthead bream, saddled seabream or tub gurnard prepared with tomato, pine nuts, olive oil, Taggiasca olives and rosemary.

 

As dessert, we suggest that you try Panera, a semifreddo with coffee typical of Genoa, amaretti di Sassello, biscuits with sweet and sour almonds and egg white, or baci d’Alassio, biscuits stuffed with a chocolate cream. Traditional of Christmas is Pandolce genovese, with raisins, candied fruit and pine nuts and Sacripantina, a sponge cake stuffed with butter cream with cocoa and hazelnuts.

 

If you are a fan of street-food you are in the right place: Liguria boasts an ample choice, starting from focaccia, available in different variations: focaccia genovese, brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, water and salt, or focaccia with olives, or with onions, or with salvia or rosemary in the mixture or focaccia di Voltri, thinner and crunchy; or focaccia di Recco, stuffed with cheese. Another great classic of Liguria is farinata, made with chickpea flour, to enjoy in winter as starter or snack, or the cartoccio di fritto misto, a tasty variety of fried fish with squid but also anchovies, shrimps and red mullets.

 

When it comes to wines, Liguria offers some excellent examples: among red wines Rossese di Dolceacqua Superiore Doc, Rosso Colli di Levanto DOC and Golfo del Tigullio DOC; as for white wines Vermentino di Luni and Moscato di Taggia. Liguria is also a land of appreciated raisin wines: like Sciacchetrà delle Cinque Terre, excellent with desserts, and the Riviera Ligure di Ponente Pigato Passito.

BY PLANE

 

The main airport in Liguria is the Genoa Cristoforo Colombo International Airport, about 6 kilometers from the city. The airport is connected to the Genova-Sestri Ponente railway station by the FlyBus shuttle service, operational every day from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and running every 15 minutes.
The Volabus service connects the Genoa airport to the Genova Brignole and Genova Piazza Principe stations, passing through the city center.

 

BY TRAIN

 

The Trenitalia trains connect Genoa and the other destinations in the region to all major Italian cities. The “Frecce” trains by Trenitalia connect Genova Piazza Principe and Genova Brignole stations to Venice, Padua, Verona and Milan in just a few hours. 


The train is the best way to travel along the seaside resorts. To move across the Cinque Terre the Cinque Terre Card gives access to all regional and fast trains from Levanto to La Spezia (and vice versa) also allowing the access to The Cinque Terre National Park and other services.

I treni di Trenitalia collegano Genova e le altre località della regione con le principali città italiane. Le Frecce di Trenitalia collegano in poche ore le stazioni di Genova Piazza Principe e Genova Brignole con Venezia, Padova, Verona e Milano.

BY COACH

 

Flixbus operates connections between Genoa (Via Fanti D'Italia) and many destinations in Italy and in Europe.

 

BY BOAT

 

The port of Genoa is one of Italy’s biggest ports and the first for number of lines. The Stazione marittima di Genova is the main boarding point for cruises.

 

Many ferry companies operate from the port to Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Spain, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The major companies are:

 

Grandi Navi Veloci: operates connections from Genoa to Porto Torres, Olbia, Palermo, Barcelona and Tunis.

 

Tirrenia: operates connections from Genoa to Porto Torres, Olbia, Arbatax and Tunis.

 

Moby Lines: operates connections from Genoa to Porto Torres, Olbia, Arbatax and Bastia (Corsica).

 

CO.TU.Nav: operates connections from Genoa to Tunis.

 

Algérie Ferries: operates connections from Genoa to Skikda (Algeria)

 

The Port of Savona-Vado, 30 minutes from Genoa, is an important port for cruise and ferryboat service. It operates connections to Corsica, Spain and Morocco.

 

The major companies include:

 

Corsica Ferries Sardinia Ferries: connects the port of Savona to Bastia, L'Île-Rousse and Calvi (Corsica) and to Santa Teresa in Sardinia.

 

Grimaldi Lines: connects the port of Savona to Barcelona and Tangier (Morocco).