Monday, August 30th, 2010

What do people think of when they think of Liguria (if anything). Probably Cinque Terra, those cute as a button little towns hanging from the cliffs with very limited accessibility other than by train or footpath. Admittedly they are cute but the stones are practically worn smooth by the hordes of trampers (English) or their counterparts from just about everywhere else. What about Genova – the birthplace of Cristopher Columbus and foccacia. It was one of the major powers in Italy during the Renaissance and still is one of the country’s major economic centers (5th). The old town is a warren of narrow streets wide enough only for perhaps a donkey cart and they still have a few port city disreputable types loitering around from time to time. I’m not sure that I’d want to be there late at night but during the day it was great. Of course in addition to foccacia there that wondrous Ligurian invention, pesto. I’ve already written about that here.

The lovely D and I visited Liguria and spent a day in Genova. Aside from the requisite day trip to Cinque Terra we also visited several other towns along the Riviera de Levanta – that is the part of Liguria south of Genova. The home base was Sestri Levante that I just loved. The touristy portion is a relatively narrow spit of land that juts out into the Mediterranean with hotels and beaches on both sides.  We were there in early October and the water was still really nice for swimming and we were blessed with the absence of the crush of tourist, mostly Italian probably, that would have been there even a month earlier. We also visited Portofino that I already talked about here as well as Camogli (a bit dour really), Santa Margherita Ligure (heavy tourism) and Chiavari (perhaps my favorite). You can click on the pictures below (in fact in any of my posts to get enlarged versions). The trompe-l’Å“i (that french term meaning fools the eye) is rampant in lots of these places. One of those delights that you find and don’t expect prior to a visit.

The food was fantastic. Perfect for the lovely D since she is a fishetarian.  Heavy on seafood including terrific scampi – the animal not the dish.  See the photo below. They are kind of like shrimp but have long slender pinchers and are sweeter and more delicate than shrimp – I’m salivating just thinking about them. There were also tiny octopi called moscardini. These were not those that I see regularly here in California that are 2” long; they are truly tiny, probably less than ½ in. and, my, are they good. There was also a kind of mushroom that looked a lot like a porcini but had a mildly reddish colored cap. There was a couple in the restaurant next to us one night that had driven down from Milano just to have some of these very special mushrooms that are served raw, sliced thin and lightly dressed. I didn’t get a photo of the these reddish mushrooms but the porcinis were definitely in season as shown in the photo. I also fell in love with Vermentino which is a perfect wine for the seafood there. Pigato is also a local favorite but I’d go for Vermentino every time. I also learned the italian word “morbido” here in discussions about grappa. Morbido means “smooth”. Pretty different from the english language connotation, eh?

I could go on and on but maybe I’ll do another Liguria post since it is my favorite area of Italy. Like the billboard along the autostrada said (in English ?!) when driving south from Torino “Relax, you’re in Liguria”. One final photo for this post. As is so often the case the people really make the trip. At our hotel in Sestri Levante the bartender told us he knew how to make the “Martini Cocktail” – his words. Dino treated us well and I’ll hope to see him one of these days when I make a return visit. Has anyone else been to Liguria?  What was your impression?

Dino - he treated us well

4 Responses to “Liguria”

  1. Dana Says:

    I will have to report back next month, after I’ve visited Genova. The food sounds molto bene! I’m pretty sure I could live on seafood and porcini if I had to! Thank you for another great description!

  2. Joe Says:


    I think that it’s going to be glorious. I read something somewhere related to the Slow Food Movement that Genova is sort of a DOC area for foccacia. You’ll need to let me know all about it. Would you like perhaps to do a guest post? Take lots of photos!


  3. Dana Says:


    I would love to do a guest blog! I will PM you later about it. And yes, I plan to take lots of photos. I will look into the foccacia origins, and ask my friends in Genova. A good conversation to practice my Italian skills!


  4. Joe Says:


    Great! Have a great time in Italy. I am SO envious. Next year I hope to make a significant trip there. I look forward to your email.


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