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Monday, May 31, 2010

Living it Up in Liguria and the Italian Riviera

Portofino’s small harbour on the Italian RivieraImage via Wikipedia

By Priscila Siano

For more than 100 years, global tourists have accepted the warmth and splendor of Italy's famous Liguria district and the magnificent Italian Riviera. Long the place where the wealthy and famous would get together to enjoy humid water, extensive sandy beaches, and superior resorts, the prime of some towns in the Italian Riviera has passed but the area still maintains a confident fashionable character that beckons discriminating tourists to come and discover.

Liguria is situated in the northern part of Italy, between the French Riviera, Piemonte, and Tuscany. The climate in the Liguria region is almost always nice and can best be described as balmy. Thanks to its location, it is sheltered from largely horrible weather by the mountains of the Alpine range. The usual summertime temperature is a cozy 77 degrees F and in the winter, it hardly ever dips lower than around fifty degrees. The sunlight is abundant and the foliage is luxuriant. That's why, for decades, it's been attracting the wealthy and celebrated who come to have fun in San Remo's famed casino, enjoy the anchorage at Portofino, or discover picturesque coast towns like Camogli and Rapallo.

Liguria is commonly separated into 2 areas or coasts. West of Genoa is where you'll find customary wide, sandy seashores and the resorts that make it a much-visited holiday spot. This area is known as Riviera di Ponente or Shore of the Setting Sun. Stretching all the way to the French Riviera, this side of Liguria boasts towns such as turn-of-the-century Bordighera, with its striking seashore esplanade; the famous resort of San Remo; the medieval city of Masone; pretty Alassio with its 2-mile extended beach; and the hill town of Sassello.

On the eastern side of Genoa is Riviera di Levante, Shore of the Rising Sun. The towns here are less industrial, the shoreline more rugged. You will not discover the huge resorts on this side of Genoa, however what you will find are several of Italy's most charming small towns, all lined up within only a few miles of each other and eager to receive guests. Head for little Portofino, great for those who want a tiny glitz with their retreat, or if you're looking for something less pretentious, go just a few miles to attractive Santa Margherita Ligure, a charming town that was once a well-known haven but is now hushed, boasting a immaculate seaside and a lot of welcoming locals.

If you are a metropolitan person, however, and you're traveling to the Italian Riviera, don't overlook an opportunity to spend some moment in Genoa, one of Italy's least-visited cities but without doubt worth a stop. Fairly a historic city, Genoa's history can be traced back to the Etruscans of the 5th century BC and the capital is purely filled of magnificent archeological and architectural gems.

The most visited sight in Genoa is perhaps The Palace of the Doges, dating from the 13th century not to be confused with the one in Venice. Other must sees include the magnificent Cathedral of St. Lawrence Cattedrale di San Lorenzo; the Old Harbor area; the Museo d'Arte Oriental with its admirable set of Oriental art; and the excitement and educational Aquarium of Genoa, one of the biggest in Europe. You will in addition desire to get a leisurely walk along the Via Garibaldi. This boulevard, lined with palaces, is a fascinating World Heritage Site.

No matter where you travel in Italy, you'll desire to be sure to savor the local food. Liguria is no exemption. Seafood, of course, is fairly popular, given the region's spot, so anticipate most dining establishments to have an exceptional variety including fish that was just plucked from the sea several hours before dinner is served. The produce in Liguria is equally as alluring and - like the seafood - you'll frequently discover fruit or veggies on your plate that were picked that very same day. Be certain to taste the orata, a yummy local fish, usually cooked with olives and potatoes; or the gattafin, pasta stuffed with beetroot, onion and parmesan. Liguria is also the birthplace of pesto sauce hence keep in mind to order a dish that includes this popular toppings.

Priscila Siano is a lover of all things Italian. She also enjoys writing articles about travel to Italy. For more information about Italy, please visit

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