At the moment, we don’t know when it will be possible to visit Italy again.
We hope it will be soon but we have no clue. This makes writing about traveling a bit weird because you are giving recommendations to people who are not able to follow them – for the moment, at least.
But one of the things I enjoy as much as traveling itself is the actual planning of the trip: I love researching a location, finding interesting places to visit, learning more about the culture of a country, and – the thing that is actually most important – looking for some Insta-perfect locations for amazing shots! 🙂
a view of Varigotti, a fishermen village near Savona
So, even if we still don’t know when the borders of Italy will be open again, it’s always nice to dream a little bit and start making plans for a possible future trip. Therefore, I will begin writing about locations in Italy again, hoping that you will soon be able to book a flight and come back here – we all miss you, by the way!
I don’t know how much I will be able to travel myself, so I think I will mainly write about my region – which is a great thing because I live in one of the most beautiful Italian regions: Liguria, a tiny stretch of land nestled between a clear blue sea and emerald green hills.
the beauty of Triora
In fact, the only purpose of this post is to convince you that you must visit Liguria, the next time you come to Italy.
I have come up with 10 reasons why you should visit Liguria but I can tell you that there are many more. The region is mainly known for the Cinque Terre, the five perched villages recognized in 1997 by the Unesco Mankind’s World Heritage, but there is actually much more to see and experience.
So here are my reasons to visit Liguria:
1. Genoa: I can’t begin this list with some other place or reason. Genoa, Liguria’s main city, is a hidden jewel that needs to be discovered. It is a city with a glorious past, whose traces can be seen in the magnificent Via Garibaldi and the Rolli Palaces, and a complex present, divided between the commercial port, the most important in Italy, and the tourist attractions like the Aquarium, the museums, and the centro storico, a complex web of dark alleys and tiny squares. If you want to read more about the city, I have written a specific post about Genoa and the reasons why you should visit it.
the old harbor of Genoa at sunset
2. Many tourists visit Liguria for its seaside locations. As a matter of fact, for 11 years Liguria has been the Italian region with the highest number of Bandiere Blu (blue flags), which is a European reward given to the seaside locations for the quality of the water and of the services given. Liguria currently has 32 blue flags, which means that 32 of its locations have high standards in terms of sustainability and cleanness. This makes it a perfect destination if you want to enjoy clear blue waters.
3. What I really appreciate about Liguria is the fact that, even if you come here for a beach holiday, there are many things you can do when you are fed up with sunbathing and relaxing at the beach. For example, there are many enchanting villages you can explore all over the region, from La Spezia up to Ventimiglia. Some of them are perched villages, some others are by the sea, all of them offer beautiful views and nice little picturesque spots. I have written about a few of them, like Camogli, Borgio Verezzi, and Cervo.
the magnificence of Via Garibaldi in Genoa
4. Speaking of things that you can do if you want to experience something different than being at the beach, Liguria is some sort of paradise for outdoor lovers. Its peculiar structure, with the hills right behind the sea, makes it perfect for hiking. There are endless paths you can walk, spending time in nature, and enjoying amazing views of the sea at the same time. There is even one single path running from one side of the region to the other, called Alta Via dei Monti Liguri.
5. This might seem odd because when you think about Liguria you think about the sea, but actually Liguria is the Italian region with the highest percentage of woods and trees (80%) on its territory. There are also some very high hills and this makes the inland way peculiar: lots of dark green woods and a scenery that resembles that of some more mountainous regions. Sometimes, it takes only half an hour’s drive from the beach and you find yourself in a completely different environment, with lakes, woods, and small villages. An example of that is Triora, which I have described in another post.
the beach in Spotorno, before the summer madness begins
6. Coming back to the sea, my region offers amazing resources if you are interested in sea life. In fact, the sea in front of Liguria is part of the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals, a marine protected area aimed at the protection of cetaceans. Almost all year round, you can go on an excursion by boat, where you can spot the marine mammals that live in the area, with a biologist that tells you everything about the lives of these incredible animals. If you are further interested in sea life, the Aquarium in Genoa is the largest aquarium in Europe and an important center of research.
7. If you like history, maybe it will be interesting for you to know that Genoa is the birthplace of Cristoforo Colombo, the man who discovered America. In the city, you can still visit the house where he was born, back in 1451. He has spent some time in Savona too, a city that was the birthplace of two very important Popes of the Renaissance times, Sisto IV and Giulio II (the first one began the project of the Sistine Chapel and the second one had it frescoed by Michelangelo). But as it happens everywhere in Italy, history is basically in every stone of the region, with stories and things to discover in every place.
a breathtaking view from Borgio Verezzi
8. Liguria is an interesting place if you are into gardens and gardening too. As a matter of fact, in the region there are some really magnificent gardens that are a true pleasure to visit. The most important of them all is the Hambury Botanical Gardens in Ventimiglia, established in 1867 to acclimatize plants from many different climatic zones of the world which would benefit from the favorable position and the mild climate. But there are also Villa Durazzo Pallavicini in Genoa, the exotic Pallanca Garden in Bordighera, the gardens of Villa della Pergola, which I visited last year, and those of La Cervara in Portofino, also the topic of one of my posts.
9. Another great thing is that you can enjoy all these beautiful things in winter too, thanks to the mild climate of the region. This cannot be said for the whole of Liguria – the inland is quite cold and may experience some heavy snowfalls in winter – but it is undoubtedly true for all its seaside locations. And the winter is perfect to visit some very busy tourist locations like the Cinque Terre, for example, because you can enjoy their beauty without crowds all around you.
the beauty of the woods in fall
10. And then I have saved the best for last: food and wine! Liguria is the region where pesto was invented (the only original pesto comes from here!) and the region is some sort of paradise for street food lovers: there are focaccia, a thin salty bread, farinata, a chickpea tart, panissa, a dish made with chickpeas too, usually served fried and seasoned with salt and pepper and finally the focaccia di Recco, cheese heaven in a slice. But there’s much more: the Torta Pasqualina, a vegetable pie usually eaten in spring, all sorts of seafood dishes and a unique panettone, which can be eaten in summer too accompanied by glass of Vermentino wine – which goes actually well with everything!