7 things you have to do in your holiday in Liguria
Liguria, also known as the Italian Riviera, is a small part of Italy along the Mediterranean coast. In the West, Liguria borders France, and the Ligurian Alps are located in its interior. The area is predominantly characterised by the sea and mountains, and boasts some stunning landscapes. But this isn’t all: many tourists flock to this region for its diversity. Hiking, climbing, mountainbiking, diving, relaxing by the beach, sightseeing and feasting on good food: all this, and more.
To be honest, I didn’t hear about Liguria until just before my trip here. As a loyal holidaymaker in France it was my first time to Italy, and I have to say, I’m absolutely smitten! I now kind of understand what “la dolce vita” means and would love to come back for a longer stay. Right now I’m sitting in rainy Berlin, craving delicious Italian food and daydreaming of my holiday. Where can I get good foccacia in Berlin??? My first trip to Italy knocked me off my socks and want to show you what Liguria has to offer. Here are seven things I can highly recommend for your next trip to Liguria.
1. Holiday in Liguria – Genoa, the Ligurian capital
You should definitely visit Genoa during your stay in Liguria. The city is characterised by contrast – between old and new, rich and poor. The old town’s streets tell countless stories of days gone by and whisk you off on an adventure. The region’s capital also has a number of cultural attractions on offer. The Palazzo Ducale hosts numerous exciting exhibitions, the opera has a full schedule of events and the aquarium down by the harbour is also well worth a visit. The Castelletto has a stunning view. Just buy a ticket at one of the machines, take the “Ascensori di Castelletto” lift up and enjoy the view. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, how about a walk through the Viletta Di Negro?
2. Holiday in Liguria – Cinque Terre
If you’ve been to the Italian Riviera before, you will surely have seen the beautiful towns of the Cinque Terre. Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore are famous for their picturesque panorama. The small colourful houses and the fishing boats bobbing below are symbolic for the whole region. Construction and alterations are prohibited in the National Park Cinque Terre. Furthermore, the neighbourhood has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List since 1997. High season lasts from May until the end of August, so expect crowds! It’s much nicer to come off peak, when the streets aren’t packed with tourists. I can highly recommend taking a boat trip, as you get the best views of Cinque Terre from the water! If you’re in good shape, you can hike along the Via dell’Amore trail, which links Riomaggiore and Manarola. If you fancy strolling through vineyards and olive groves, take the hiking trail from Manarola via Corniglia and Vernazza to Monterosso. But make sure to check prior to your arrival that the trails will be open to the public!
3. Holiday in Liguria – Sailing
My trip to Liguria wasn’t just my first time in Italy, it was also the first time I went sailing. And I really really wish this was my main mode of transportation! The “Baia delle Favole” or “Bay of Fairy Tales” near Setri Levante is ideal for a sailing trip. The bay owes its name to the famous author Hans Christian Andersen, who lived in Sestri Levante for a while. A day trip including a skipper will set you back around 350€ for a group of 7-8.
4. Holiday in Liguria – Dolphin/whale watching
If sailing doesn’t quite fit into your budget, then I recommend a trip with one of the many ferries. There’s a huge range to choose from. Prices vary depending on the length and type of trip, and you can customise them based on your interests. On our trip around the “Isola Palmaria” I saw dolphins for the first time in my life and was super excited! What I didn’t realise: this region is a well-known protected area for whales and dolphins. You can even book whale watching tours!
5. Holiday in Liguria – visit Roberto and Alessandra in Riomaggiore
Roberto and Alessandra have dedicated their 60s to growing wine. Together they set up the small vineyard Terra di Bargòn. Roberto has been working the land around Bargòn since his youth, together with his brothers. Growing wine on terraces is a tradition in Liguria, and it takes a lot of hard work! From maintaining the terraces, to harvesting the grapes, everything is done by hand! And the tricks of the trade are passed down from one generation to the next. The terrain is not suitable for machinated equipment. Roberto and Alessandra grow Bosco, Albarola und Vermentino grapes, from which they make white wine and Sciacchetrà. Exploring the wine cellars at Terra di Bargòn is not just a dream come true for wine experts – Roberto and Alessandra take the time to introduce theirs guests to the different wines and regional delicacies and tell the vineyard’s story. I’m not very wine-savvy, and am not particularly interested in the wine-making process, but I found my visit extremely rewarding. The love and passion for each other, as well as wine, is omnipresent. They exude so much joy and zest for life, that they robbed me of my fear of growing old! Thanks a million!
Holiday in Liguria
6. Holiday in Liguria – Food!!
Liguria not only stole my heart because it’s so beautiful, but because it’s food is so incredibly delicious. The region specialises in agriculture and fishery, making it a culinary delight. The region is famous for its “Pesto all Genovese”, which originates in Liguria. Other specialties include Farinata and Panissa – a type of bread made from chickpea flour. Most cities have at least one foccaceria, shops that sell fresh bread. Don’t forget to try the numerous shellfish and fish dishes on offer. In Portovenere I recommend Portivene UnMare DiSapori, a tiny restaurant in one of the harbour’s hidden alleys. Best place for fresh fish and good Ligurian wine! If you prefer something fancier, head over to Osteria Cantine Cattaneo for a special treat. The restaurant is located in an old farmhouse in the midst of orchards and olive groves in Sestri Levante. Reserve a table in advance and ask for a price list!
7. Holiday in Liguria – Cookery classes at Niasca Portofino
In Liguria I not only ate incredibly well, I also rediscovered my love for cooking. It was hard not to want to take to the kitchen immediately, what with all those great recipes, dishes and ingredients! If you’re passionate about food and cooking, swing by Niasca Portofino. In addition to local products, such as olive oil, wine, tomato sauce and tasty lemonade, the team has a number of activities on offer. Foodie tours of the region, olive oil tasting sessions and cookery classes. The classes take 2 or 4 hours and you can book them individually. Rather than starting off in the kitchen, the lesson begins either at the local market or on Niasca Portofino’s own grounds, depending on what you’re going to be cooking! The ingredients are chosen and bought together. In fact, Niasca Portofino can also provide accommodation if necessary: Their apartment contains two double bedrooms, two separate bathrooms, a kitchen and a small living room. It costs 250€ a night off season, and 350€ during high season.
I hope you have a great time in Liguria! Send me all your tips on what to do in the region, or just recommendations for great Italian restaurants in Berlin :)
Portofino’s beatiful harbour
The view from the Niasca Portofino vineyards
The view from my hotel room at the Vis-á-Vis in Sestri Levante
Thank you to Turismo in Liguria for all their support!