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

  • Lavagna

    • La Bilaia - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017

    • Raieü - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017

  • Ne: La Brinca - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017

  • Rapallo: U Giancu - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2017

  • Sestri Levante:

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

Vernazza

"the pretty one", beautiful babe of the bunch with its picturesque harbor

Corniglia

"the one on the cliff", quieter

  • ...there used to be a good lemonade/yogurt shop near entrance to town...?

  • ## A Cantina de Mananan - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2021, Frommers, Golosario, looks fun/fresh

  • # Km 0 - sandwich shop with locally-sourced ingredients, rec'd New York Times, Lonely Planet

  • # Alberto Gelateria - rec'd New York Times, Lonely Planet, local ingredients like honey and basil

  • La Posada Ristorante - rec'd Lonely Planet

  • Il Gabbiano - cafe with cold drinks, sandwiches, etc on the trail in the tiny hamlet of Prevo, rec'd Lonely Planet

  • Bütiega - take-away deli rec'd Lonely Planet

  • Pan e Vin - rec'd Lonely Planet

  • Note: as of 2021 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

cute little town nestled in a small valley, a bit more "rustic", subject of the most famous photos...Manarola was probably the main inspiration for the town in the Disney movie Luca

  • ?? Nessun Dorma - bar with a view and simple meals (mostly bruschette, cheese, and cured meats) rec'd New York Times, popular on TripAdvisor...also runs a "Pesto Experience" lunch/lesson at 10:30 on most days, where you make ligurian pesto

  • ? Trattoria dal Billy - rec'd Frommers, Golosario, Lonely Planet (especially for seafood)

  • Il Porticciolo - rec'd Frommers, Lonely Planet

    • Il Porticciolo Foodrink - more informal place associated with the restaurant, rec'd Lonely Planet

  • # Cappun Magru - informal wine bar / restaurant (also has some quick take-away stuff?) rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2021, Lonely Planet (there was a restaurant in Riomaggiore with the same name that is now closed—might have been the same owner?), more info about their eponymous dish here

  • Da Aristide - rec'd Lonely Planet

  • Gelateria 5 Terre - rec'd Lonely Planet, also has cannoli

  • (Marina Piccola was rec'd Michelin but not any more as of 2021, their Google reviews have also slid down considerably; still rec'd Lonely Planet...)

  • the flattest part of the entire 5-town hike is between Manarola and Riomaggiore

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 2021, basically the entire coastal section was closed...some websites claim that the Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza & Vernazza to Corniglia sections are open, but the official sites show them as closed...? Part of this section was definitely closed in late 2020 but was scheduled to re-open in March 2021, so it could be that the official website just wasn't updated?)

      • This blog has a nice description of what it's like to hike the full 5 towns despite the trail closures

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. Restaurants to check out:

  • ***La Lampara, Via Tramonti 4, 018-775-8035, closed Mon - good home cooking, beautiful view, rec'd by (was rec'd by Michelin but not anymore as of 2021), TCI - 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! --> not sure if they're still good anymore?

  • Piccolo Blu - B&B that also serves fresh, simple food, rec'd by this blog

    • Portovenere (Porto Venere) - further down the coast near La Spezia, has nice castle

      • ? Locanda Lorena - rec'd New York Times, Michelin

      • ? Portivene Un Mare di Sapori - popular on Google and TripAdvisor, nautical themed decor, small (so it fills up fast)

      • ? O chi o a cà toa - (in Fezzano, on the road towards La Spezia) also popular on Google & TripAdvisor, set menu with lots of small dishes

      • ? Anciùa - quick to-go items like sandwiches and pies, very popular on Google & TripAdvisor, rec'd Lonely Planet

      • Antica Osteria del Carugio - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2018, TCI, Golosario...but mediocre reviews on Google & TripAdvisor (perhaps because of the gruff, "quirky" service?)

      • Trattoria la Marina da Antonio - has a "piatto di buon ricordo", rec'd TCI

      • Ristorante dei Poeti - in Royal Sporting Hotel, rec'd TCI

      • Il Timone - pizzeria/restaurant rec'd TCI, closed Tues...looks nice but Google/TripAdvisor reviews are mixed (especially for service)

      • Tre Torri - rec'd Scatti di Gusto in 2018

      • between Portovenere and La Spezia in Marola:

        • Osteria Picciarello

        • Trattoria Il Centro - technically in La Spezia but a little ways outside town, rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2018, TCI, dishes look relatively simple

        • ? Le Ville Relais - also in La Spezia but just outside town, rec'd Golosario, Michelin, terrace overlooks the bay

        • La Tortuga di Claudio - on same road, popular on Google/TripAdvisor

        • Ancora - in Fezzano, popular on TripAdvisor & Google

    • Levanto - one train stop north of Monterosso (the northernmost town in the Cinque Terre), you can also hike on "path number 1" to Monterosso from here (more in this NY Times article)

    • 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 :-)

      • Gleateria Stella Marina - via Sforza 15, Gambero Rosso Gelaterie d'Italia 2020

      • La Pia - rec'd Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2018

      • Pizzeria Capolinea - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2018

      • Osteria da Gianni - Corso Cavour 352, 018-771-7980, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2018

      • Pizzeria Da Pipeo - Via Genova 169, 018-770-3100, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2018

      • Antica Trattoria Sevieri - rec'd Michelin, fresh ingredients from nearby market

      • L'Osteria della Corte - rec'd Golosario, Michelin

      • Il Ristorantino di Bayon - rec'd Golosario

      • La Posta - rec'd Golosario, Michelin

      • La Suprema - rec'd Michelin

      • not sure:

        • Pizzeria Da Luca - Via Michele Rossi 114, 018-756-4181, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014...no longer in 2018

        • Trattoria Pagni - rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014...no longer in 2018, there was a fire in May 2015

        • Basta Curve - Piazza Chiodo 35, 018-789-6037, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014...no longer in 2018

        • inland a bit: All'Inferno - Via Lorenzo Costa 3, 018-729-458, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014...no longer in 2018

        • in Arcola: Il Tagliere 2 - Via Valentini 218, 018-798-7553, rec'd by Slow Food Osterie d'Italia 2014...no longer in 2018

      • further south in Sarzana: Gelateria Biagi - Gambero Rosso Gelaterie d'Italia 2020

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 Molenella - rec'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

      • Casa del Gelato - Gambero Rosso Gelaterie d'Italia 2020

      • 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, Gambero Rosso Gelaterie d'Italia 2020

    • 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