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Otherwise known as the Italian Riviera, Liguria is a blend of simplicity, Italian style and sophisticated pleasures. Its two Rivieras are divided by the Gulf of Genoa and the region boasts the most Blue Flag beaches in Italy with some of the clearest waters of the Mediterranean.
East of Genoa, known as the Levante, is a quaint scene of chalky cliffs that arch around the Cinque Terre National Park, dotted with pastel-coloured houses like those found in Sestri Levante, and home to Portofino - one of Italy's most stylish and exclusive resorts. Head west from Genoa and the landscape is characterised by craggy mountains, lush vegetation and inland forests of chestnut trees. The beautiful town of Alassio was a favourite of Hemmingway, while Sanremo is a charming resort with a fascinating old quarter of steep streets, covered alleys and secret squares.
Liguria is one of the most-visited regions in Italy for two reasons – capital city Genoa and the Cinque Terre.
Genoa is a solid introduction to Liguria’s weighty maritime history. Wander the 13th-century Palazzo Ducale or peer up at the striped facade of Genoa Cathedral. Alternatively, start in the city of La Spezia, where you can climb up to St. George’s Castle, a museum with views over the terracotta rooftops.
From La Spezia, the most famous part of the Ligurian coastline is your oyster – the UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre National Park. Hike, sail or catch a train between the colourful cliffside villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. Just make sure to stop by a vineyard or two along the way to sip the local Cinque Terre DOC – a dry white best paired with platter of local seafood.
Most flights to Liguria arrive into Genoa airport (GOA) although visitors to the west of the riviera can also fly into Nice (please call our Italy Experts to book flights to Nice). Direct flights to Genoa are available from London Gatwick, London Heathrow and London Stansted and take approximately 2 hours.
The coastal location of Liguria ensures those who enjoy freshly caught seafood won’t miss out. There is a delicious range of options available, with popular choices including mussels, squid and a mixed seafood soup known as ciuppin.
A signature dish of Liguria to try is trofie pasta with pesto alla Genovese. This pasta, which originated in Genoa, is similar to fusilli, and combined with another of Liguria’s creations, pesto, makes for a deliciously simple meal. Pasta lovers should also sample pansòuti con la salsa di noci. Pockets of dough are commonly stuffed with ricotta and herbs and served with a tasty sauce made from walnut sauce and fresh Parmigiano Reggiano.