Liguria is the classic introduction to Italy: the Italian Riviera, as Liguria ’s commercially developed strip of coast is known. Liguria is the perfect place for visitors , above all if you want to escape the crowds, the mountains. It’s a land draped with terraced vineyards and olive groves and speckled with pretty old villages and full of awesome beaches.
The chief city of the region is Genoa, an ancient port with a fascinating old quarter complemented by a sparkling dockside district and a vibrant and ethnic mix. The Riviera di Ponente to the west is the more developed stretch, a long ribbon of hotels and resorts. San Remo , is flanked by hillsides covered with glasshouses, and it is a big centre for the worldwide export of flowers; Albenga and Noli are attractive medieval centres ; while Finale Ligure is a pleasantly seaside town with plenty of outdoor activities. On Genoas eastern side is the more rugged Riviera di Levante, a mix of mountains and fishing villages, originally accessible only by boat. Drawn by its remoteness, the Romantics “discovered” the Riviera in the early nineteenth century, preparing the way for other artists and poets and the first package tourists.
Resorts like Portofino are among the most expensive in the country, although nearby Santa Margherita Ligure and Rapallo make great bases for exploring the surrounding coastline by train or car, as does the pretty fishing village of Camogli.
Walks on Monte di Portofino and through the dramatic coastal scenery of the Cinque Terre take you through scrubland and vineyards for memorable views over broad gulfs and jutting headlands. At the far end of the Riviera is the bustling mercantile port and naval base of La Spezia, its shimmering Golfo dei Poeti bookended by the picturesque coastal towns of Portovenere and Lerici. In a car, the shore road is overall a disappointment as the coast is extremely built up, but you can get a much better sense of the region’s beauty by taking the east–west autostrada which cuts through the mountains a few kilometres inland by means of a mixture of tunnels and viaducts. However, the real plus of Liguria is that so many of the coastal resorts are easily accessible by train, with regular services stopping just about everywhere, and, because the track is forced to squeeze along the narrow coastal strip, the views are wonderful and the stations invariably located in the centre of town.