Liguria travel guide

Liguria is a region in northern Italy. The region consists of four provinces, namely Genoa, La Spezia, Savona and Imperia. The capital of the region is Genoa (Genova, in Italian). Liguria is a fairly narrow, elongated region running from the French border along the northern coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Liguria travel guide

Overview

Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre

Liguria is one of the smallest regions of Italy. The region is enclosed between France to the east and the Tuscany region to the south and east. The interior, criss-crossed by deep valleys, is bordered by the Alps to the north and the Apennines to the east.

Its coastline is characterized by mountains that plunging steeply into the sea. A good part of the coastal strip is known as the Italian Riviera.

The climate is mild. Flowers, fruit, grapes and olives are grown mainly. For centuries, the republic of Genoa was an important naval power. The most famous among Genovese sailors was Christopher Columbus. From a culinary point of view, the region is famous for its pesto alla Genovese.

Capital city

View from Lanterna Genoa
Panoramic view of Genoa

Genoa (Genova in Italian) is the capital of the province of the same name and of Liguria itself. It is the sixth largest city in Italy and has a densely populated center. It is the region’s main port city and the old lighthouse called Lanterna (now a museum) is therefore considered its main symbol. Genoa has almost 600 thousand inhabitants.

Provinces region of Liguria

Imperia

The province of Imperia is the westernmost one of the region. Its largest city is San Remo, but the capital is Imperia itself. In 1860, much of what is now the province was ceded to France. Apart from the towns already mentioned, Ventimiglia, Bordighera and Dolceacqua are among the most interesting towns for tourists. In total, the province has 67 municipalities. The coastal strip is one of the most beautiful ones of Italy.

Savona

The province of Savona is located to the east of Imperia. In this province too, the main cities are located directly on the coast. The two largest and best-known cities are the capital Savona itself and Albenga. In total, the province consists of 69 municipalities. The hilly interior is known for its natural beauty and natural caves where many archaeological finds have been made.

Genoa

The province of Genoa is officially called Città Metropolitana di Genova. The capital Genoa is also the capital of the entire region. The capital is sandwiched between the sea and several mountains over 1,000 metres high. Apart from the provincial capital, Rapallo and Chiavari are well-known tourist destinations. Almost 70% of all inhabitants of the province live in Genoa.

La Spezia

The province of La Spezia is the southernmost province of the region. The province is characterized by a rocky coastal strip and a hilly and mountainous interior. It is the smallest province in the region, with no more than 32 municipalities. The largest city is the capital La Spezia itself. Other pretty towns include Sarzana and Lerici. The biggest attraction of the area, however, is Cinque Terre, a coastal strip consisting of five villages known for its breathtaking natural beauty.

A brief history of Liguria

Antiquity and Romans

As shown by several archaeological finds (at Balzi Rossi beach, among others), there was already human life in Liguria in the Old Stone Age. Other finds are more recent, such as that of the “young prince” in the Arene Candide cave near Finale Ligure. Bronze Age notches in the rocks at Monte Bego have been found and Iron Age urns have been discovered near Chiavari.

The Ligurs must inevitably have been in contact with the Italians, the Greeks and especially the Etruscans.

Contact with Roman civilization began in the 3rd century. The relationship between Roma and Genoa was friendly, but the inland tribes and on the inhabitants of the so-called Riviera di Ponente often lived on a war footing with Rome.

Middle ages

After the fall of the western Roman Empire, the region became important to the Byzantines because of its ports, who made it the province of Italorum.

In 643, the region came into the hands of the Lombards. They divided Liguria into duchies, and later into counties. In the second half of the 10th century, during the reign of Berengario II, a new division into three “marches” took place. The eastern one was called Obertenga, the western one Arduinica and the one in between Aleramica.

Saracen invasions often forced the population to flee the cities and seek refuge in the monasteries and abbeys, which were growing in number. In 972, however, the Saracens were defeated.

The 11th century saw a rebirth and Genoa became a powerful maritime republic. Trade flourished, thanks in part to the Crusades and in part to its connections with northern Europe.

After this, the increasingly prosperous city tried to take control of the surrounding territories. These resisted for a long time, but eventually lost.

Heyday and decline

The Republic of Genoa experienced a great boom under Andrea Doria (1466-1560). This admiral managed to shake off French rule and restore the city’s independence. He was therefore called the “Father of the Fatherland”.

The decline began with a French bombardment in 1648. In 1746, the city was occupied by the Austrians. The last independent territories of the Republic of Genoa were the Imperial fiefdoms and the Republic of Noli. However, these too were incorporated by Napoleon in 1806.

After French rule, the Genoans failed to rebuild the republic. The region became part of the kingdom of the Savoys and hereafter of the new state of Italy.

Liguria, Italy


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