Liguria, the eyebrow-shaped crescent that borders Tuscany and France, is a beautiful region known for its stunning coastline and picturesque towns.
Here are some of the most important things that a traveler to Liguria should know:
The region is famous for its seafood. Genoa is the home of basil, the key ingredient in pesto alla Genovese, and it holds the biannual World Pesto Championship.
The Cinque Terre, a string of five picturesque coastal towns, is a must-visit—which is exactly why this fragile area is constantly grappling with how to allow tourism and maintain the landscape. Consider your environmental footprint if you want to go to Cinque Terre. A long stay, rather than a day trip, is one way to see the area in a more eco-conscious way.
Liguria is home to several beautiful beaches, including the popular towns of Sanremo and Imperia. If you go in summer, be sure to bring your swimsuit and enjoy some time soaking up the sun. If you go in winter, you’re probably interested in the world-famous Sanremo Festival, the Italian festival that decides Italy’s Eurovision representative.
Genoa, the capital city, has a rich seafaring heritage, which dates back more than a millennium. The city was once one of the peninsula’s four maritime republics (see also Pisa, Venice, and Amalfi). The medieval alleyways that extend from the harbor are a must-visit. Though, if you are easily paranoid, you may want to see them only by day. At night, it’s easy to get lost in the dark maze that is the Genovese ancient port district. On the other hand, the Genoa harbor is home to Italy’s biggest and best aquarium, which is a real kid-pleaser. There’s also an Eataly, other sites of maritime interest, and architecture realized by Genovese architect Renzo Piano. For older-style architecture, check out the Palazzi dei Rolli on Via Garibaldi. These UNESCO-recognized buildings are floodlit by night and the district feels very aristocratic (especially compared to the dark alleys of the port).
Portofino, the chicest town of the Italian Riviera, has a pleasant harbor dotted with small yachts and sailboats. The town, a popular resort during the 1950s and 60s, still has a bit of retro luster from the time it was more difficult to get to. These days, you can just take a train to Portofino from Genoa for the day or longer. If you are visiting between March and October, you couldn’t do better than taking a a ferry between the two.
Liguria is known for its mild climate, with temperatures rarely reaching extreme highs or lows. However, be prepared for sudden changes in weather, as the region can experience sudden storms. Because the region is heavily terraced, landslides are not uncommon during the rainy season between November and March, particularly around Cinque Terre.