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Things to do on the Italian Riviera

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1. Walking - there is a wide variety of walks and hikes available along the Ligurian coast. Coastal paths and woodland walks can link its many coves and hillside villages. The beauty of the national park of Porto Venere includes the hilly cape, in addition to the islands of Palmeria, Tino & Tenetto if you are a keen walker then we highly recommend a visit. If it's solace you require whilst walking, the island of Palmeria is a good choice with easy hike but offering great views without the mass tourism. By far the highlight and most significant walk is alluring trails of the Cinque Terre, Liguria's main attraction and quite possibly the most beautiful coastal walk in Europe. The walk between Monterosso and Corniglia taking in the breath-taking scenery and the "Way of love walk" which connects the villages or Riomaggiore and Manarola are our two top picks.

2. Cruises & sailing tours - take a look at the Ligurian coastline from another perspective, sandy private coves, coral fishing harbours, cliffside villages, national parks and island spotting with the odd whale and dolphin thrown in to the mix. Liguria really has something for everyone, day tripping, village hopping, snorkelling or relaxing with a glass of vino watching the sunset. A favourite of ours has to be the simple but relaxing trip to the Isola Gallinara, an afternoon trip with an hour stop over on the island for some bathing in the crystal-clear waters. We also managed to catch site of a dolphin or two on our way.

 

Things To Do On The Italian Riviera

 

 

3. Sights & landmarks - we have mentioned the main attraction for many in Liguria, the UNESCO site of the Cinque Terre and obviously this is the most notable stop for many. However, just inland & often overlooked but could be one of the highlights of any visit is the pretty hilltop towns of Dolceaqua and Apricale. Not only does this ensure a tranquil break from the sea-side but these villages, linked by a single arched medieval bridge are crowned by the 16th century Castello Dioria. Apricale ("open to the sun") itself cascades gracefully from its mountain peak position and houses the charming medieval Piazza Principale which looks like a stage set and is quite often used by the local theatres to put on shows in the narrow lanes.

4. Shopping - it goes without say that the Italian Riviera is an upmarket region, hence there is no shortage of designer outlets, in particular in PortofinoSam Remo & Alassio. However, if labels are not your thing then there's something for everyone at the regions open-air markets. These are still very important for the locals and even in the smallest towns they are more of an event than a shopping day out. The local senoritas will have their hair done, wear their best clothes and meet friends for a coffee and a gossip. A much-loved (even the French venture this far) & the larger of the markets is the Friday Ventimiglia street market, where not only can you pick up anything ranging from local home cooked delicacies to last season's designer fashions at a fraction of the price.

 

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5. Wine tasting - Liguria produces mostly white wine. The regions primary grape varieties are Vermentino and Pigato, the vineyards are majestic terraced slopes plummeting into the Mediterranean Sea. A wine tour here is more low key than other regions of Italy, spend an afternoon tasting mineral rich whites iconic of the Riviera or walk the Cinque Terre after a morning of wine tasting and have a wine excursion with a view. September hosts the worlds most vertical wine harvest, using specially designed lifts to transport the grapes

6. Beaches & Rivers - it's all about the best beaches in Liguria. For a relaxing sun-bathe & swim Alassio's sandy beach is great & very family friendly, but for a more rugged beach day try Paraggi although it can be crowded in peak season you should be able to find a quiet spot on the nearby rocks. We also love the three beaches at Varigotti, long stretches of stunning golden sand. But let's not forget the rivers of Liguria, a favourite wild swim for us would be the River Trebbia. If it's thrills you seek then head to the diving centre of the Cinque Terre Marine Park or white water rafting again on the Trebbia.

7. Food & drink - the region's cuisine relies heavily on the Ligurian land and sea. It is typified by a range of humble ingredients and widely regarded as one of the healthiest diets in Italy. Expect to see lots of vegetables, ricotta cheese, fish, pasta, Pesto & Focaccia, with the latter two quite prominent as they are believed to have originated in this region. There are some good local wines including Vermentino, Pigato, Rossese di Dolceacqua and Bianchetta Genovese.

 

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