A Quick Tour Of Italy - Western Liguria
If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the Liguria region of northern Italy, commonly known as the Italian Riviera. This thin strip of land lies on the Ligurian Sea, not far from Monaco and the French Riviera. While Liguria is by no means undiscovered, its crowds are much smaller than those next door. There are many little towns or villages and one international port city almost smack dab in the center of the coast. This article explores Liguria west of Genoa, or as the locals call it, Riviera di Ponente (The Riviera of the Setting Sun.) Be sure to read the other articles in this series: eastern Liguria, Genoa, and Cinque Terre, five little seaside villages that just might steal your heart.
Little Pegli hosts the Sixteenth Century Villa Doria, now home to the Genoa Naval and Maritime Museum honoring the world's most famous sailor, Christopher Columbus. The Nineteenth Century Villa Durazzo Pallavicini houses the Ligurian Civic Archeological Museum with a beautiful park, lakes, grottoes, and a medieval-style castle.
San Remo is western Liguria's largest resort. Perched between the Mediterranean Sea and the Maritime Alps it enjoys an excellent climate, but I'm told that royalty no longer stops by. See the relatively new Russian Orthodox Church of San Basilio built by expatriate Russians. You may want to hit the tables at the Art Nouveau San Remo Casino. Its historic center, La Pigna, maintains its unique character. Start with the Fourteenth Century Gothic Saint Stefano's Gate and tour neighboring churches, villas, and palaces. Maybe royalty and their hangers on just don't know what they are missing.
Bordighera has long been a popular winter resort, especially for the English. It's well known for flowers and palms, proudly used in Rome's St. Peter's Basilica on Palm Sunday. Bordighera was the first city in Europe to grow date palms; legend says from Egyptian pits planted in the Fifth Century. The Argentina Promenade has an excellent view of the French Riviera and other churches. The Seventeenth Century parish church of Santa Maria Maddalena holds the relics of Sant'Ampelio, the town's patron saint. He's the one who planted those Egyptian date pits.
In spite of such a long seacoast, the regional cooking isn't very seafood intensive. Its specialties include a vegetable pie favored by sailors, surely a change from that same old fish. We'll conclude with a quick look at Liguria wine. Liguria doesn't have a lot of room for wine grapes. Its best-known wine is Rossese di Dolceacqua/Dolceacqua produced in a small area at the western tip of the region from a local red grape.
Levi Reiss has authored alone or with a co-author ten computer and Internet books, but to tell the truth, he would really rather just drink fine French, German, or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He knows what dieting is, and is glad that for the time being he can eat and drink what he wants, in moderation. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel, wine, and food website www.travelitalytravel.com and his global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com.