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Liguria

Along the "Italian Riviera," this region runs along the coast from northwest Tuscany to southeast France.

Genova (Genoa)

The Italians call it DGEH-noh-vah, the ancient maritime republic (along with Amalfi, Venice, and Pisa) and modern seaport, which is the largest city in Liguria.  Birthplace of Christopher Columbus, Genova is also famous for its palaces and pesto alla genovese (Genovese pesto sauce—a pungent green sauce with basil, pecorino, and garlic).  Convenient night trains go to and from Naples; Genova is also a relatively cheap home base to explore the region.

Places to Eat

Elsewhere in Genova Province

Cinque Terre (Five Lands)

Popularized by Rick Steves, these five tiny towns were once only accessible from the sea, although now a train connects them (there is limited car parking outside of the towns). A footpath, known as the Sentiero Azzurro (Blue Trail), connects the towns, and requires a fee for admittance (one version of the fee includes train transport; see Cinque Terre Insider's take on it). In warmer months, there's also a ferry connecting the towns. Each town has its own character...from north to south:
  • Monterosso (al Mare) - bustling resort town with a large beach
    • Il Ciliegio - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014-2017
    • Trattoria da Oscar - rec'd Frommers
    • Ristorante Miky - rec'd Frommers
    • Il Casello - rec'd Frommers
    • Gastronomia San Martino - rec'd Frommers who call it "local gem" with very casual atmosphere
    • Il Fornaio di Monterosso - focaccia shop that got on Dissapore's top list
  • Vernazza - "the pretty one", beautiful babe of the bunch with its pictoresque harbor
  • Corniglia - "the one on the cliff", quieter
    • good lemonade/yogurt shop near entrance to town
    • A Cantina de Mananan - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017, Frommers, Golosario
    • Km 0 - sandwich shop with locally-sourced ingredients, rec'd New York Times
    • Alberto Gelateria - rec'd New York Times
    • Note: as of early 2017 the main Corniglia-Manarola hiking path is closed
    • ...if the road between Corniglia and Manarola is closed (or you want some more strenuous hiking) you can detour via Volastra (trail #587 aka 7a, then 586 aka 6d, then 506 aka 6), check out this site for more, this map shows some of the paths
      • you can also take a bus from Manarola to Volastra to shave some time off; departs ~hourly
      • Rick Steves rec's skipping the "official" trail #6/506 between Manarola and Volastra, instead heading on the "Vineyard walk" from the cemetery/Punta Bonfiglio to a sign/turnoff reading "Volastra panoramica")
  • Manarola - nice town nestled in a small valley, a bit more "rustic", subject of the most famous photos...the flattest part of the entire 5-town hike is between Manarola and Riomaggiore
    • Nessun Dorma - bar with a view rec'd New York Times
    • Il Porticciolo - rec'd Frommers
    • ...if this flat part (the main Via dell'Amore or "Way of Love") is closed, sometimes the Beccara Trail (#531, a much more strenuous hike with lots of stairs) is open
    • Note: as of early 2017 the Manarola-Riomaggiore Via dell'Amore section is closed and it's unknown when it will re-open!
      • It's been closed, more or less, since 2012; read more about why here
  • Riomaggiore - second-largest town, like Manarola is mostly in a valley, apparently popular with Germans
  • Which footpaths are open?
    • For the latest status, check out the Official 5 Terre Park Website's map (closed parts are in black; as of early 2017, both the Corniglia-Manarola and Manarola-Riomaggiore sections were closed)
    • This blog has a nice description of what it's like to hike the full 5 towns despite the trail closures
  • Hiking maps are here

Other Towns in La Spezia Province

Some of these towns combine the beauty of the Cinque Terre but fewer crowds
  • view of La Spezia from Campiglia Tramonti
    Campiglia Tramonti
    - tiny hilltown along the coast, known for its saffron production, just south of the Cinque Terre and north of La Spezia...note that there is a hiking trail that connects Campiglia Tramonti to Riomaggiore (another trail leads to Portovenere to the south); you can also drive there from La Spezia but be prepared for lots of curves
    • ***La Lampara, Via Tramonti 4, 018-775-8035, closed Mon - good home cooking, beautiful view, rec'd by Michelin - we went here in 2014 and had a great lunch; their fritti are outstanding, their pesto lasagna was superb, and they even had gluten-free pasta!
    • Piccolo Blu - B&B that also serves fresh, simple food, rec'd by this blog
  • Portovenere - further down the coast near La Spezia, has nice castle
  • Levanto
  • La Spezia - relatively large town just south of the Cinque Terre; relatively inexpensive compared to the resort towns
    • ***Gelateria: La Gelateria di Nonna Papera - 188 Corso Nazionale (this is what it looks like), great, fresh flavors from a serious gelato maker...we had a great snack here in 2014 and ended up going back for more :-)
    • Pizzeria Da Luca - Via Michele Rossi 114, 018-756-4181, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • Trattoria Pagni - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014, there was a fire in May 2015
    • Basta Curve - Piazza Chiodo 35, 018-789-6037, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • Osteria da Gianni - Corso Cavour 352, 018-771-7980, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • Pizzeria Da Pipeo - Via Genova 169, 018-770-3100, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • Pizzeria Capolinea - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • inland a bit: All'Inferno - Via Lorenzo Costa 3, 018-729-458, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • in Arcola: Il Tagliere 2 - Via Valentini 218, 018-798-7553, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
  • Nice article about hikes that avoid crowds

Imperia Province

Most of the following towns are an hour or less from the French border (near Menton).
  • Dolceaqua - nice town right near the French border on a river, a ways up from the coast
    • A Viassa - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 & 2015
    • up the road in Isolabona: Agriturismo La Molenellarec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2015
    • further up the road in Località Madonna Assunta/Pigna: Terme (hotel/restaurant) rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 & 2015, Michelin Bib Gourmand
  • Montegrosso Pian Latte - pretty far inland, not far from France's Mercantour Park
    • Osteria del Rododendro - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 & 2015
    • (in Mendatica:) Agriturismo Il Castagno - Via San Bernardo 39, 018-332-8718, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 & 2015
  • Bordighera - along the coast, very close to Ventimiglia (the last major town before the French border)
    • Magiargè - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 & 2015, Michelin
    • outside town: Madonna della Neve - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 (but not 2015)
    • not far away in Ospedaletti: La Playa - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 & 2015
  • Sanremo - where the rich and famous go to the beach; home of the annual Sanremo Music Competition
    • La Tavernetta - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 & 2015
    • Tortuga - Via Nino Bixio, 93a, 018-484-0307, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014 & 2015
    • inland in Badalucco: Cian de Bià rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2015
  • Imperia - on the coast, largest town

Savona Province

The next province over from Imperia, also not far from France
  • Albenga - coastal town known for its towers
    • Osteria del Tempo Stretto - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • da Puppo - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • in nearby Alassio: I Mattei - Viale Daniele Hanbury 132, 018-264-6680, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
  • Finale Ligure - resort town with some castles
    • Da Virginia - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • Da Casetta - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • La Gioiosa - restaurant/hotel rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • Ai Cuattru Canti - Via Torcelli 22, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014, Lonely Planet
    • inland in Calice Ligure: Pastorino Gelateria - consistently on Dissapore's list of best gelaterie in Italy
  • Savona - capital of the region, on the coast
    • Vino e Farinata - Via Pia 15, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • inland in Altare: Quintilio - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
    • inland in Mallare: La Lanterna - Lacalità Panelli, 019-586-300, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014
Slow Food Liguria has a list of restaurants
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Luke Swartz,
Jun 4, 2015, 12:42 PM
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Luke Swartz,
Jun 4, 2015, 12:41 PM
ą
Luke Swartz,
Jun 4, 2015, 12:42 PM
ą
Luke Swartz,
Jun 4, 2015, 12:43 PM
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