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Liguria – The Italian Riviera

Wonderful cliff coasts, Mediterranean vegetation and scenic coastal towns characterise the Italian region of Liguria. All this in addition to the variety of cultural and leisure facilities make the Italian Riviera a very popular holiday destination.

Liguria's cultural landscape

Geography - The arc-shaped strip of land at the Ligurian Sea

Liguria (capital: Genoa) lies at the Ligurian Sea in the north-west of Italy and is the country's third smallest region with an area of 5,410 km². It borders on France in the west, on Piedmont in the north as well as on Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany in the east. The region is divided into four provinces (Imperia, Savona, Genoa, La Spezia) and is surrounded by the mountain ranges of the Ligurian Alps, which contain the Monte Saccarello as Liguria's highest mountain (2,201 m), and the Northern Apennines. The geographical landmark of the so-called Italian Riviera is the long coast (450 km) with its bays, headlands and unspoiled nature. There is pleasantly warm Mediterranean climate throughout the year, which is one of the reasons why Liguria is so popular with tourists.

The capital of Liguria

Nature - A Mediterranean coastal landscape at the whale sanctuary

Liguria's scenery is dominated by the contrast between the fascinating mountains and the magical coastal areas, which impress with rocky and steep sections, small bays with fine sandy beaches and Mediterranean vegetation. Olive trees, chestnuts, pines and fruit like citrus fruit decorate the region's coastal area. The heartland, especially the Apennines and the Aveto Regional Park, is vegetated by beech, fir and broadleaf forests. Altogether 69 percent of Liguria's territory are covered in forests, which makes the region the country's greatest forest area. The coast, which is over 400 kilometres long, is divided into the Riviera di Ponente (west of the capital Genoa) and the Riviera di Levante (east of Genoa). The latter fascinates with rocky coasts and the Cinque Terre National Park, which accommodates scenic towns and is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The western Riviera de Ponente consists of the Riviera dei Fiori ("Riviera of the flowers") and the Riviera delle Palme ("Riviera of the palms"). While the Riviera dei Fiori is mostly known for its cut flower growing, the many flower markets and flower fields, the Riviera delle Palme is decorated with numerous palms along its long beach promenade. Liguria does not only have one national park but also eight regional parks and four nature reserves. Altogether 12 percent of the region's area are protected. The two marine reserves Cinque Terre and Portofino in the provinces of La Spezia and Genoa are populated by sperm whales, roquals and dolphins, which have found a natural habitat in this region.

Nature reserve in Liguria

Culture - Heaven on earth

Liguria, which is named after the pre-Roman people of the Ligurians, holds countless impressive cultural treasures. One of them is the Cinque Terre with the high situated and magical towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso, which have been described as "heaven on earth" by romantics like George Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The region is also called the "Gulf of Poets" because the English poets spend their time here in the first half of the 19th century. Travellers are still captured by the atmosphere of the wonderful towns today. The bright colours of the densely packed houses, the steep cliffs and the clear, turquoise sea water constitute one of Italy's most beautiful parts of coast. Another worthwhile destination is Genoa - Liguria's cultural capital and the birthplace of Christopher Columbus - with its medieval old town, its harbour (one of the biggest harbours at the Mediterranean Sea), the magnificent mansions and impressive sacred buildings. Popular attractions in Genoa are the Palazzi dei Rolli, the Renaissance palace Palazzo Spinola di Pellicceria with significant works of famous artists, the Aquarium (one of the most important and technologically advanced ones in Europe) and the alleged birthplace of the discoverer Christopher Columbus. Other popular travel destinations at the Italian Riviera are the towns San Remo, Camogli, Rapallo, Triora and Albenga.

Village in the Cinque Terre in Liguria

Experience - Floral splendour and pesto alla genovese

Art handicraft and ceramics are widespread in Liguria. Products made of velvet, damask, leather, straw and ebony are also typical of the region. However, the Italian Riviera is most of all known for its flower farming. San Remo is not only a popular bathing resort but also the City of Flowers (Città dei Fiori). The flower market in the district of Valle Armea is of the greatest and most significant in the south of Europe. In addition, San Remo hosts the music festival Festival della Canzone Italiana every year. The town of Cervo, on the other hand, hosts the international chamber music festival Festival Internazionale di Musica da Camera, during which you can enjoy jazz, piano music or violin concerts on the Piazza Sagrato della Chiesa under the starlit sky. Liguria's cuisine is characterised by fresh vegetables, olive oil, fish, seafood and pasta. The most common spice is basil, which is also an ingredient of the famous pesto alla genovese.

Pasta dish from Liguria

Activities - A bathing and climbing paradise

Due to the mild climate, bathing is possible from May to October in Liguria. The region's coast offers everything water sports fans could wish for. Swimming, diving, surfing, sailing, water skiing and motorboat rides are only a few of the many activities you can do in or on the Mediterranean Sea. Furthermore, Liguria is an excellent destination for whale watching because the Ligurian coast is populated by a great number of the marine mammals. However, Liguria is not only suited for water lovers but also for hikers. The mountains offer hikers an impressive panorama with Mediterranean valleys, rocks, streams and lakes. A famous hiking trail is the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri, which is 440 kilometres long and leads through the whole region. Extreme sports fans can go bungee jumping, rafting, paragliding, kite-flying, canyoning or climbing. The area around the small town of Finale Ligure is a true paradise for climbers.

Beach holidays in Liguria

Information

Travellers can arrive in Liguria by plane at the airport in Genoa or Milan or by train via Milan, San Remo, Turin or Savona. In addition, the region's well-developed road network makes it possible to reach Liguria by car and the harbour of Genoa offers ferry connections to and from Sicily, Sardinia and Naples.

Liguria is not only suited for beach holidaymakers but also for recreational or professional sportspeople and lovers of culture. Travellers who want to get to know the Mediterranean Italy at the beach, in the mountains or on a city trip cannot go wrong with holidays in Liguria.

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