A bit of history of Ligurian cuisine:

Cinque Terre

For centuries Ligurian sailors plied the seas as part of the spice trade, bringing to Europe the exotic products of the Far East and Africa. When they returned from their long, arduous voyages, the sailors had had their fill of fish and spicy food. What they wanted instead was fare that spoke of their homeland, made from vegetables fresh from the gardens and farms that cling to the Ligurian hillsides. As a result, the dish that is now most closely identified with this region is pasta al pesto, noodles bathed in an intensely green and fragrant sauce.

The pesto recipe took the form we know in the mid-nineteenth century: the recipe first appears in writing in the Ratto brothers’ 1865 Cuciniera genovese, where it is described as “pesto is a mince of garlic and basil” and used as a sauce with which “to dress all varieties of pasta”.

Ligurians almost make a religion of their devotion to pesto sauce and its main ingredient, fresh basil. While they generally favor fresh herbs in their cooking, it is basil that inspires the most interest.  There is, however, no uniformity of opinion as to the best pesto recipes or its  best uses. Every village, and for that matter probably every family, has its own recipe for pesto sauce and its favorite shape of pasta to use with the sauce. For example, the Genoese prefer a sharp, pungent pesto sauce which they serve with ravioli filled with veal and cheese. Many people opt for a mild pesto sauce, sometimes with cream or butter added. In many areas, the preferred “pasta al pesto” is trenette, a sort of plump local version of linguine. In still other areas, they dispense with the pasta altogether and add the pesto to their local version of minestrone or to fish soup.

The basic ingredients of pesto sauce are common to all these recipes: fresh basil leaves, cheese (either Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino), pine nuts or walnuts, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper. The great debate, and the great fun, about pesto is deciding on the proper proportions with which to combine these ingredients and whether to add any extras. Ultimately, with some experimentation, you can make pesto that suits your tastes exactly, just like every cook in Liguria.

One thing to remember: to make a true pesto you need to use a marble mortar, try yourself and you will see the difference in the pesto

The beautiful Italian Riviera

Celle Ligure
Celle Ligure – Photo © Vratsagirl

This coastline is extremely beautiful due to the amazing combination of clear blue waters, soft sands, perfect weather, and a great amount of entertainments available at the area.

The Italian Riviera offers amazing beaches in which visitors can enjoy a relaxing sunbath as well as swim in crystalline waters. These area’s beaches are a perfect place for those who love beaches to visit at almost any time of the year, since the climate and its temperatures are very homogeneous most of the time.

One of the main areas of he Italian Riviera is the Riviera Dei Fiori. The Riviera Dei Fiori or Riviera of Flowers goes from Cervo to Ventimiglia in the west, and is the spot of the Italian Riviera which is closest to France. This area offers several hotels, resorts and entertainment areas for tourists to choose as well as typical Italian Riviera’s beautiful beaches.

Another very visited Italian Riviera’s spot is the area known as Riviera Delle Palme. Riviera Delle Palme is the Italian Riviera area located at the central section of the Ligurian coastline. This area has a historic beach resort called Alassio among many other great spots, such as Finale Ligure, and amazing beaches. Visitors who go to Riviera Delle Palme could also choose among many options related to their entertainment such as casinos, discos, bars, and spectacle centers among others. 

There are several ways in which to access the area of the Italian Riviera. One of the easiest ways to access it is by train since there is a major train line which goes all the way through the coastline. This railway line allows tourists to travel from Naples, Florence, Milan, Rome, Genoa or other cities to the Italian Riviera’s coastline, as well as allows them to enjoy its beauty from the point it begins to where it ends. Besides thisComputer Technology Articles, visitors who go to the Italian Riviera can also travel to France and arrive to cities such as Monaco or Cannes within the same railway line.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jakob Jelling is the founder of Eurotomic.com.

8 Historical Sites to Explore in Genoa

Palazzo Ducale - Photo © MrsDalloway1925
Palazzo Ducale – Photo © MrsDalloway1925

On the lookout for group accommodation in Genoa? Make sure you check out these top eight attractions of the city with your group.

Looking to take a group of students or colleagues to Genoa? Book into some excellent group accommodation then take the time to learn a bit more of the history locked within the old stones and bones of the city.

Here are eight sites to help connect you to the rich history of la Superba.

1. Castello d’Albertis – The Albertis Castle used to be a private residence until 1932, when its original owner Enrico Alberto d’Albertis donated it to the city.

2. Lanterna di Genova – The Lighthouse of Genoa is nearly 475 years old and used to be the single tallest lighthouse in the world up until 1902. There’s a museum nearby that’s dedicated to all things about the Lanterna, if you’re interested.

3. Cimitero monumentale di Staglieno – The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno is not only home to the famous historical dead of Genoa, but is also filled to the brim with breath-taking works of art reflecting the fears and hopes that come with the end of life.

4. Santa Maria di Castello – If you’re looking to discover something old, how about a church that’s been around for over 1,100 years? From the numerous frescoes to a jaw-dropping high altar, this is one church that is chock-full of history waiting to be explored.

5. Palazzo Reale – If you want to see how royalty lived in the 17th and 18th century, then you’ll definitely want to visit the Royal Palace of Genoa. Not only will you find plenty of paintings and frescoes, but the furnishings of the palace help convey a sense of life to the palace you won’t get from a museum.

6. Piazza de Ferrari – This plaza itself is a beautiful place, with its majestic main fountain, but its proximity to the numerous palaces and theaters make it one of the most important sights to see. If you’re short of time and want somewhere close to your group accommodation where you can absorb as much of Genoa’s history as you can, this is the place.

7. Via Garibaldi – Just like the Piazza de Ferrari, Via Garibaldi is a street that connects multiple historical palaces together. It is a pleasure to stroll through, on the way to or from your group accommodationFind Article, with marble arches and vaulted chambers surrounding you as you wander along its storied pathways.

8. Torri di Sparta Soprana – The ancient stone gates of the old walled part of Genoa hold its years of history close. Its stoic allure combined with a subtle imposing stature makes for an unforgettable experience.

You’ll find quite a few more historical attractions within easy walking distance of your group accommodation to help spice up your visit to Genoa – the ones above may just be the beginning of your exploration.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ben Spencer works for Hostelling International. Offering more than 4000 hostels worldwide, their website dedicated to groups features 250 hostels specifically suitable for school trips, corporate team building trips and families.

Where to stay in Genoa

Hotels, guesthouses, apartments and B&Bs in Genoa: search and make a reservation here.

Portofino: The small town crowned one of the eight wonders of the world

Portofino from the Castle – Photo © R. Schmuck
Portofino from the Castle – Photo © R. Schmuck

Portofino one of the most beautiful villages and the world. Here is useful information and advice on your holiday in Portofino!

Portofino is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful villages and the world. In the 60 ‘and 70’, stars like Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Brigitte Bardot and Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Clark Gable, Catherine Deneuve, Liza Minelli and Rex Harrison, often visited Italy for exciting Meeting mondani full of fascination. The newspapers of that time devoted to worldliness, were competing to provide news in the world these stories full of charm and mystery that made famous Italy as a symbol of the “Dolce Vita” International when motivated in Via Veneto and Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Today it is still a meeting place of the jet-set and international tourism.

Portofino in Liguria, area of only 2 km, where it is forbidden to enter the car, has always been known as the “Piazzetta” the most beautiful in the world. In fact, this “salon” in surface makes it unique and full of magic. In few steps you can see the many windows of the most famous Atelier in the world, go walking near formidable in Yacht Marina – which offers the possibility of anchoring vessels from 8 up to 40 meters – riarmeggiare fishermen see their networks and assist in unforgettable sunset in the bay, filled with all the shades of pastel colors.

Maison famous international home in Portofino. Among these Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès, Emilio Pucci and others. They are all located in the main Via Roma, which starts from the parking area until the “Piazzetta” and the two fell, Molo Umberto I on the right and left Calata Marconi. Some Brands are located in the lanes in style Ligure, still retained at the origin. Recommend that a nice walk to spot fine details. Shopping in addition to Brands and Maison, you can buy pretty Boutique premises, special hand-made clothes, cashmere, whole morals, bikinis and sandals typical story of Portofino famous throughout the world.

Nourished by the presence of painters and artists. A famous Portofino are mainly watercolors that depict the views of the Piazzetta and “cuts” of marine life. Portofino is often location for commercials and television series. Hollywood icon Charlize Theron – considered by many one of the most beautiful women in the world – was born just in Portofino in 1998 as a testimonial of sensual Martini, brand very close to our city. Ermenegildo Zegna Even with the famous sailing trophy, the new Fiat with decapottabile and Dior, have devoted more of their famous products Portofino.

Existing in the many restaurants you can taste fish specialties, always fresh. In particular, shrimp, crabs and lobsters. Memorable pesto sauce native to this land. Almost all restaurants offer a wide selection of wines especially white and raised, and several sessions offer a few meters from the sea.

This combination of flavors and beautiful views, evoke strong emotions in full relax. Portofino also has some places to visit. We recommend that the walk starts from the Piazzetta to the right until the Castello Brown, a former building of the 1870 home of the British consul Sir Montague Yeats Brown, who gives a panoramic view across the bay and the Gulf of Tigullio truly spectacular.

Not far away, the Church of St. George that allows you to see everything the Golfo Paradiso to Genoa. Continuing to arrive through the luxuriant vegetation of the Lighthouse Portofino. There is merged into an environment that is ancient, in front of the Ligurian Sea, with its dolphins, Capodoglio, starfish and many protected species in this particular area of the Mediterranean.

Also suggest some paths – making beverages to follow suit and shoes – which stretch from the Park of Portofino Genova in direction to the bay of San Fruttuoso, do not miss as good and for the 18 meters deep in the waters of the Christ of the abyss. While, in the direction towards Santa Margherita Ligure, advancing until the arrival in the bay of Paraggi, a small hamlet known for its distinctive green color of its blue waters on the market.

We suggest that you do not miss the celebration of local patron saint, St. George on 23 April, which is recalled with the famous square in Bonfires. One evening close to my heart to residents where access is a huge fire with music and seafood specialties. Colors, suggestions, tones of coal onArticle Search, offer romantic emotions that go straight to the heart. As much a celebration “heard” may want to go to Portofino in the afternoon or by boat departing from Rapallo or Santa Margherita Ligure.  

Author: Simone Benedetti

Where to stay in Portofino

Hotels, B&Bs, apartments and villas in Portofino: search and make a reservation here.

I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Liguria Region

 corniglia_trailAn article by: Levi Reiss

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Liguria region of northern Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.

Liguria, also known as the Italian Riviera, is located in the northwest corner of Italy. It borders France, Monaco, and has a 350 kilometer (over 200 mile) coastline on the Ligurian Sea.

The region is hilly and mountainous, but has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The Romans captured Liguria in the Second Century B. C. It was subsequently conquered by Barbarians and by the Lombards.

In area it is the third smallest Italian region with a population of about 1.6 million.

The land in Liguria tends not to be particularly fertile. Agricultural products include flowers, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables. Some claim that Liguria introduced pasta to Italy. Most of the pasta is wheat. Pesto is a regional specialty. A wide variety of seafood is available. Heavy industry is on the decline. Tourism is so important that in some areas the July and August population is ten or fifteen times that of the slow season. The area is particularly popular with retirees.

Liguria’s capital and largest city is Genoa, a city of six hundred thousand. Parts of the old city have been placed on the World Heritage list as of 2006. Among its many sights are the home in which Christopher Columbus was said to be born, and La Lanterna, the oldest working lighthouse in the world. Another special tourist destination is Cinque Terre, five tiny villages along the coast. They are a hiker’s paradise, but make sure that you are in good shape before attempting the complete route of about 13 kilometers (8 miles). This area is home to two DOC wines, Cinque Terre and Cinque Terre Sciacchetra’, neither of which is often found in North America.

Liguria devotes slightly under twelve thousand acres to grapevines, it ranks 19th among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about 4.4 million gallons, also giving it a 19th place. About 34% of the wine production is red or rose’, leaving 66% for white. The region produces 8 DOC wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin. Almost 14% of Ligurian wine carries the DOC. Liguria is home to almost three dozen major and secondary grape varieties, somewhat more white than red varieties.

No international white grape varieties are widely grown in Liguria, whose most important white grapes are Bosco, Pigato, and Vermentino. Given its limited wine production, little Ligurian wine is exported to North America. In the unfortunate absence of any Ligurian wines, we are reviewing a Vermentino-based wine from Tuscany. If I am ever in Liguria, I promise to drink and review a few local wines.

No international red grape varieties are widely grown in Liguria. The best-known Italian red variety is Sangiovese, which is grown elsewhere including California. Other Ligurian red varieties include Rossese, Ciliegiolo, and Ormeasco, also known as Dolcetto.

Before reviewing the Ligurian-style wine and Italian cheese that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region.

Start with Torta Pasqualina; Artichoke Savory Pie. For the second course try Cappon Magro; Ligurian Seafood Caponata (you may have to order this dish in advance).

As dessert indulge yourself with Pandolce; Sweet Bread From Genoa.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com. You can reach him at ital@mail.theworldwidewine.com.

I Love Italian Wine and Food – The Liguria Region

Corniglia from the trail - Photo © Blaine Crowther
Corniglia from the trail – Photo © Blaine Crowther

An article by: Levi Reiss

If you are looking for fine Italian wine and food, consider the Liguria region of northern Italy. You may find a bargain, and I hope that you’ll have fun on this fact-filled wine education tour.

Liguria, also known as the Italian Riviera, is located in the northwest corner of Italy. It borders France, Monaco, and has a 350 kilometer (over 200 mile) coastline on the Ligurian Sea.

The region is hilly and mountainous, but has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The Romans captured Liguria in the Second Century B. C. It was subsequently conquered by Barbarians and by the Lombards.

In area it is the third smallest Italian region with a population of about 1.6 million.

The land in Liguria tends not to be particularly fertile. Agricultural products include flowers, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables. Some claim that Liguria introduced pasta to Italy. Most of the pasta is wheat. Pesto is a regional specialty. A wide variety of seafood is available. Heavy industry is on the decline. Tourism is so important that in some areas the July and August population is ten or fifteen times that of the slow season. The area is particularly popular with retirees.

Liguria’s capital and largest city is Genoa, a city of six hundred thousand. Parts of the old city have been placed on the World Heritage list as of 2006. Among its many sights are the home in which Christopher Columbus was said to be born, and La Lanterna, the oldest working lighthouse in the world. Another special tourist destination is Cinque Terre, five tiny villages along the coast. They are a hiker’s paradise, but make sure that you are in good shape before attempting the complete route of about 13 kilometers (8 miles). This area is home to two DOC wines, Cinque Terre and Cinque Terre Sciacchetra’, neither of which is often found in North America.

Liguria devotes slightly under twelve thousand acres to grapevines, it ranks 19th among the 20 Italian regions. Its total annual wine production is about 4.4 million gallons, also giving it a 19th place. About 34% of the wine production is red or rose’, leaving 66% for white. The region produces 8 DOC wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin. Almost 14% of Ligurian wine carries the DOC. Liguria is home to almost three dozen major and secondary grape varieties, somewhat more white than red varieties.

No international white grape varieties are widely grown in Liguria, whose most important white grapes are Bosco, Pigato, and Vermentino. Given its limited wine production, little Ligurian wine is exported to North America. In the unfortunate absence of any Ligurian wines, we are reviewing a Vermentino-based wine from Tuscany. If I am ever in Liguria, I promise to drink and review a few local wines.

No international red grape varieties are widely grown in Liguria. The best-known Italian red variety is Sangiovese, which is grown elsewhere including California. Other Ligurian red varieties include Rossese, Ciliegiolo, and Ormeasco, also known as Dolcetto.

Before reviewing the Ligurian-style wine and Italian cheese that we were lucky enough to purchase at a local wine store and a local Italian food store, here are a few suggestions of what to eat with indigenous wines when touring this beautiful region.

Start with Torta Pasqualina; Artichoke Savory Pie. For the second course try Cappon Magro; Ligurian Seafood Caponata (you may have to order this dish in advance).

As dessert indulge yourself with Pandolce; Sweet Bread From Genoa.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. His wine website is www.theworldwidewine.com. You can reach him at ital@mail.theworldwidewine.com.

Trekking in Liguria’s Riviera delle Palme

Portovenere
Portovenere – Photo © Massimo Ginesi

There is no better way to enjoy the natural beauties of the Riviera Ligure delle Palme than to go for a walk, immersed in the colors and odors that unite the sea and the land in this part of Liguria in such a unique manner.Walking as a pleasure, then, but also walking as a sport. Here the trekking routes offer delights all the year round: excursions at the height of winter through the scented Mediterranean maquis and pleasant summer strolls in the shade of the vast pine and beech woods of the mountains back from the coast, in the most wooded region of Italy.

A wide range of itineraries, suited to family walks or to marathon runners in training, is described in the many practical guides that have been published. Whole days can be spent rambling up and down the plateaus of the Riviera, in search of unusual panoramas or traces of history along the trails cut long ago in the stone and yet still intact, along the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri.

And then you might run into a naturalist on the track of a rare flower, or a speleologist just emerged from a cave filled with history, or a photographer intent on capturing incredible landscapes and surprising views. But you are most likely to meet hunters, or simple tourists and sportsmen and women looking for strong sensations in a still unspoiled environment.

Savona

Savona Port
Savona Port – Photo © michelledd-2009

Savona is the Provincial capital, the largest town on the Riviera di Ponente.

The name Sann-a has ita roots in the town’s ancient inhabitants, tha Sabazi Ligurians, who sided with Carthage in the Punic war against Hannibal, unlike the Genoese who became allies of the Romans: while there’s no love lost between Savona and Genoa, the two thousand years.

In the 13th century Savona was a free Commune, at war with the Genoese nonetheless, who seized power once and for all in 1528 and razed the town’s fine port to the ground. It was Napoleon and, in the 19th century, the Savoia dynasty who turned Savona back into a town worthy of the name, building it a real port. Savona still has traces of the medieval and baroque in its old docks, of 19th century style in its long, straight porticoes and elegant Piedmont-esc squares and of the modern movement along the banks of the river Letimbro, often no more than a stream.

cathedral of st maria assunto
cathedral of st maria assunta – Photo © bifoto

The core of the town stood on a hilltop overlooking the sea, where in 1542 the Republic of Genoa built a imposing military stronghold, the Priamar, now home to the non-hostile museums of contemporary art.

In the 17th century, it was here that the Republic of Genoa’s chief archer, Giovan Battista Baliani, experimented with friction and mechanical bodies just as Galileo did before him; Baliani anticipated Torricelli’s studies and distinguished between the concept of weight and mass as Newton was to do later.

Savona’s Medieval historic center is clearly Ligurian in its layout, complete with carruggi and houses within towers. Its buildings are of great historical importance not least for their architecture: the State Archives house the first document written in the Ligurian vernacular (the Dichiarazione di Paxia, 1178-1182).

The heart of 19th century Savona lies in porticoed Via Paleocapa, its buildings richly decorated with Art Nouveau motifs, and Piazza Diaz, dominated by the imposing Chiabrera Theatre which is named after Savona’s greatest poet, the greatest exponent of 17th century literature.

Towards the sea at the end of Via Paleocapa stands the short but imposing Leon Pancaldo tower, the last remaining traces of the 14th century walls; it is named after a Savonese sailor who accompanied Magellano on his travels.

Opposite stands the modern cruise terminal, reflecting 21st century Savona’s vocation for sea travel and tourism, welcoming and friendly towards all visitors.

Our tour centers on the square formed by Via Paleocapa, Corso Italia, Corso Mazzini and the old Docks. Start from the Medieval towers which rise above the oldest part of the port: the Corsi and Guarnieri towers date from the 12th century, as does the tower of the Brandale or belltower (the brandale was actually the pole from which the Commune’s flag flew). Its Huge bell stands in Campanassa.

Nearby Palazzo degli Anziani was once the seat of the podesta or magistrate. This marks the start of Via Pia, once known as the Fossalvaria and the oldest thoroughfare in old Savona. The road still has an important commercial role to play today. Its main feature is the 15th century Palazzo Della Rovere, built by the family which produced two great Renaissance popes, politicians and patrons both: Sixtus IV and Julius II.

There are many buildings and ruined towers worth visiting in the nearby area. Via Pia leads on to the porticoes of Via Paleocapa, but it is worthwhile making a detour along Via Aonzo towards Piazzetta del Vescovado and the 18th century Palazzo Vescovile, not to mention the Cathedral square which stands at the rear of Palazzo Della Rovere.

The Duomo or cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was built in the late 16th century to replace its predecessor which was demolished following the construction of the Priamar fortress.

It was Celle-born Francesco della Rovere, pope Sixtus IV from 1471 to 1484, who commissioned this chapel and its much more illustrious counterpart in the Papal Palaces of the Vatican. Savona’s own Sistine Chapel stands next to the chatedral. It was built by Lombard craftsmen between 1481 and 1483 as a mausoleum for the pope’s parents. In the mid 18th century it was transformed ino a light, airy rococo jewel, decorated with colorful floral motifs in stucco work and embellished with paintings, a choir and 17th century organ and the funereal monument built in 1483. It is without doubt one of the region’s greatest artistic treasures.

Woodlands around Savona: you can see that Savona is the Provincial capital with the greatest forestry cover in the whole of Italy as soon as you leave the town and begin to climb the hills around it: this was Savona Wood, vast forests of prized timber which for centuries supplied the shipyards of the Republic of Genoa, particularly those in nearby Varazze. The woods are just as densely packed and untamed today; very few roads run through them and you are much more likely to come across a herd of grazing cows than a car. It is well worth travelling up through the valley of the Letimbro to the 6th/7th century Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Misericordia, with its pretty square and Palazzo Pallavicino and Tursi, not to mention a marble depiction of the Visitation, perhaps by Bernini. The road rolls on into the countryside towards Montenotte, site (in 1796) of one of the numerous battles which launched Napoleon’s ephemeral conquest of Italy and Europe. After the hush of so many trees, the Giovo pass offers more obvious traces of human civilisation, first in the shape of a refuge, final destination for the forest’s many mountain horse riding trails which offer views of the stunning natural landscape that no motorised means can rival. Then the landscape begins to slowly change from the mountainous to the agricultural as you make your way down towards the sea through the isolated villages of the Commune of Stella, amid terraced gardens, broom trees and olive groves.

Where to stay in Savona

Hotels, guesthouses, apartments and B&Bs in Savona: search and make a reservation here.

Savona and the Riviera delle Palme – Food and wine

Cervo
Cervo – Photo © Mchidell

Although inspired by traditional “Genoese” cuisine, whose fundamental ingredients are olive oil and herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, etc.), the seafood and vegetable dishes of the Riviera delle Palme, from Varazze to Andora, present the tourist and gourmet who wishes to explore the character of the local cooking with original variations on the theme.

A cuisine that is in the first place much “greener,” commencing with the filling for ravioli – once considered “the queen of first courses” – in which vegetables (beet, borage, chicory and endives) predominate over meat and eggs.

Even the classic “Genoese stuffed breast of veal” contains much more egg, along with brain, marrow and sweetbreads that do not appear in the Riviera version. In both dishes, however, we find, alongside cheese, the indispensable flavor of the sweet marjoram also known as persa or persiga (at Albenga and Alassio): of undoubted Levantine, or Persian, origin, it is a testimony to maritime trade links with faraway places.

The inland region, which borders to the north on the province of Alessandria and, though only to a minimal extent, that of Asti, while opening to the west on the “Provincia Granda” of Cuneo, feels the beneficial influence of this area of “haute cuisine” and is able to offer an extraordinary series of typical specialties: highly original and tasty, they range from “white polenta” to “bacialli” and the “tire” of Altare. Each valley, each town, has interesting culinary ideas to offer to the curious visitor.

A real opportunity for the rediscovery of ancient flavors that have not yet been lost. Without of course forgetting the “traditional” dishes, modern chefs are always coming up with new and much-appreciated combinations of seafood and garden produce, such as the wonderful fantasies of “pesce spade in carpaccio” (raw swordfish) or “polpo tiepido in salsa Rossese” (warm octopus in Rossese sauce), “linguine con scampi e zucchine” and the “spunciacurrente” (a kind of small octopus) fried, stewed or simply boiled and served with a dash of taggiasca extra virgin olive oil.

TRUFFLES
The most unexpected surprise in the province of Savona, and found nowhere else in Liguria, is the seductive truffle. A few kilometers beyond the Colle di Cadibona, in that extreme southern spur of the Langhe Cuneensi comprised between the communes of Cairo Montenotte, Millesimo, Carcare and Dego – and especially in the wood of Santa Giulia – it is possible to find not only the “black truffle”, a more or less close relative of the one from Norcia and even that of Pèrigord, the honor and pride of French cooking, but also the even more stronglyscented white one, sometimes called the tartuffo d’Alba, to be cut, judiciously, into a shower of thin slices, of tiny petals…. A further gastronomic delight in addition to that of mushrooms, the true collective “mania” of the autumn for both residents and guests, gathered in the splendid chestnut and beech woods.

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Extra virgin olive oil di primo ruggio, i.e. cold pressed, made by traditional methods, is the undisputed sovereign of Ligurian cuisine. The oil made from the taggiasca olive, grown in the valleys of Andora and the Albenga region as well as in the area around Imperia, has a delicate, slightly fruity flavor, sometimes with an aftertaste of almonds.
Other oils from the province of Savona that are prized for their flavor are the ones produced from olives of the Colombaia or Colombara, Frantoio and Pinola varieties. The latter, with its delicate taste of pine kernels, is typical of Arnasco, in the hinterland of Albenga, where it is grown on terraces fully exposed to the south. Going for the newly-pressed oil, from November to March, is an occasion not to be missed by the tourist-gourmet: a fascinating journey to be made through the splendid valleys where the olives are grown, just back from the coast, at the time when they are being picked by hand or beaten down from the trees, or visiting the oil mills, or gombi as they are known locally, to watch the olives being crushed and pressed. Recently the olive oil produced in Liguria has been recognized by the assignment of a mark of quality, D.O.P. (Denominazione d’origine protetta or “protected name of origin”). This provides the consumer with an additional guarantee that the oil has been made from olives picked between November and January and brought to the oil press within forty-eight hours.

BASIL
Ligurian basil (baxiaico’ in the local dialect), grown on the coast in the bracing sea air, is the fundamental ingredient in the classic pesto sauce. Thanks to cultivation in greenhouses, it is now available all the year round. Indeed the best time to taste it “according to the wellinformed gourmet” is in the winter, made with basil from a hothouse or grown on a balcony, in the slanting rays of sunlight of one of the Ligurian alleys known as carruggi, with its small, pale green leaves and intoxicating, unique scent.

At the end of spring, on the other hand, basil starts to emerge from the vegetable garden: stronger in flavor, with a slight hint of mint, it is particularly suitable for sauces made with fresh tomato.

Pesto is a strictly raw sauce: thus it is a great mistake to let it heat up during preparation in a blender. Be careful, therefore, to use the slowest speed after steeping the leaves in abundant local extra virgin oil and to pause occasionally during the process to avoid overheating of the blades. In addition, it is recommended that pasta seasoned with pesto not be sautèed in a frying pan.

ARTICHOCKES
One of the most delicious specialties of the Riviera Ligure delle Palme is undoubtedly the spiny artichoke of Albenga. With the hard external petals removed – be careful not to prick yourself – this particular variety of artichoke is the only one that can be eaten in pinzimonio, i.e. raw with a dip made of extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt and, if desired, pepper. The artichokes of this region are also much appreciated “breaded” and fried, in the classic Easter dish of artichoke pie, or stewed with lamb or even better kid.

ASPARAGUS
The purple asparagus of Albenga may rightly be considered one of the most refined specialties not just of Ligurian cooking but of Grande Cuisine in general. Highly appreciated in numerous dishes (especially when it is considered “fine early produce”), it is given pride of place on the menus of the best restaurants, even outside the region.

WINES

An extraordinary range of typical wines provide a worthy accompaniment to all the culinary specialties of the stretch of coast between Varazze and Andora, from fish dishes to those based on vegetables and meat, especially white meats like rabbit, lamb and kid.

There is a marked preponderance of white wines, in addition to the rosè called Rossese d’Albenga and Ormeasco. Here we give a list of them with their principal characteristics:

VERMENTINO (D.O.C.) – a clear, straw yellow in color, sometimes with golden reflections, it has a full, discreetly intense and persistent but delicate bouquet, with a scent of wild herbs and hints of honey, pear, peach and woodland resins, and a dry but mellow, pungent and delicately warm taste, with a full body and a pleasantly bitter bottom. An ideal accompaniment to seafood appetizers, savory first courses with delicate white sauces made with herbs and above all pesto! It is ideally suited to a menu that includes a second course of fine salt-water fish, boiled and served with extra virgin olive oil.

PIGATO (D.O.C.) – Very similar to Vermentino, but with nuances that cannot or at least should not escape the expert. It too is a clear, straw yellow color, with slight golden reflections, and has a full, intense, persistent but delicate and fruity aroma, with hints of ripe peach, flowers and herbs, in particular sage and broom, and a dry but pleasantly mellow and warm taste, with a good and well composed, steady structure and a slightly bitter bottom. An ideal accompaniment for mushroom hors-d’oeuvres, first courses with walnut and pesto sauces, classic vegetable dishes (pasqualina or Easter pie and artichoke pie), fish-based second courses with delicate white sauces and salt-water fish baked in paper.

ROSSESE D’ALBENGA OR DI CAMPOCHIESA (D.O.C.) – Absolutely not to be confused with that of Dolceacqua, it is a more or less deep ruby red and has a full, persistent fruity and slightly vinous bouquet with hints of wild strawberry and raspberry. The taste is dry but fairly mellow, pungent and delicately warm, with a medium body and a typical touch of bitterness. It goes well with first courses seasoned with red sauces. Thus it is a good accompaniment not only for meat dishes but also for tomato sauces, where it provides a more appropriate combination than with white wines.

LUMASSINA – Made from a vine that grows along the coast as far as Savona, taking the name “Mataosso” at Spotorno and Noli and “Buzzetto” around Savona and Quiliano. It too is a clear, straw yellow color, with greenish reflections, but its delicate and persistent aroma contains scents of damp wild herbs and hints of slightly wilted wildflowers. A dry, light and very fresh taste that is pleasing to the palate. It goes well with griddlecakes of fish and vegetables, fish sauces or pasta, even when fairly rich, and sardines and mackerel, either fried or cooked with vegetables. However, we cannot leave the province of Savona without mentioning, even if only in passing, “VERDEA,” a white wine originating in Tuscany that is ideally suited to first courses of white meat seasoned with spices or herbs, baked fish with mushrooms, etc. The great and legendary Granaccia, on the other hand, made with grapes from the Alicante vine in some parts of the commune of Quiliano, is a deep red in color, with a touch of violet when it is young and becoming a deep ruby with garnet reflections after aging from three to four years. It is an excellent accompaniment to red meat, game and seasoned but mild cheeses.

Where to stay in Savona

Hotels, guesthouses, apartments and B&Bs in Savona: search and make a reservation here.

The International Whales Sanctuary – Whale watching

Whale watching
International Sanctuary Whale watching – Photo © tim stenton

The International Whales Sanctuary an important zone from the biological point of view. The wealth of food attracts for a long time thousand of fishes and accordingly the raiders.

Every summer around 2000 whales and thousand of other cetacean, among which dolphins, zifii and capodogli, are given appointment in the Ligure-Provenzal basin to feed in sight of the winter.

It is the first time that a protected sea area has been created  that understands international waters in this part of the hemisphere: it is drawn of a vast area over 96000 squared KMs,: equal to the double one of Switzerland. The whale protected area is extended among the Cote d’Azur, Principaute de Monaco, the Ligurian Coast, Corsica, Sardinia and Tuscany.

Whale
International Sanctuary Whale watching – Photo © tim stenton

The creation of the Sanctuary of the Cetacean is an extraordinary event of cooperation for the maintenance of the nature. The International Whale Sanctuary not only guarantees the guardianship of the sea mammals, but also of the whole ecosystem of this angle of Mediterranean.

The International Sanctuary Whale watching trips are the occasion, not only to see from near the Cetacean in their natural environment, but also to make people aware for a correct management of the sanctuary of the whales.

There are whale watching tours departing from three towns in the Savona province: Andora, Alassio and Savona itself.

The tours operate during the tourist season, check for schedule and availability with the web sites of the three companies operating these tours:

Escursions of Liguria Whale watching with departure from Andora, Alassio and Savona
Text courtesy in part of APT Riviera delle Palme