Culinary journey in Liguria
Italian cuisine is well known and loved all around the world thanks to its variety of flavours. It has influenced eating habits across the entire continent
Italian cuisine is at the same time open to new ideas like no other. Very famous and appreciated in the world is the great variety of pastas, sauces, pizzas, meats and game dishes, appetisers (antipasti), vegetables, oils, Balsamico vinegars, delicious desserts, and of course, the wines and the Grappa liquor that end the meal. Italian cuisine reflects the Italian lifestyle; it’s based on cooking, having fun and enjoying moments with family and friends. Dear Guests, we have arranged a short culinary journey with an excursion program through Liguria. You are warmly invited to join us and enjoy yourselves!
Don't miss the Villa Hanbury and its legendary garden. The splendour of the garden can be especially observed during autumn and spring. The brothers Thomas and Daniel Hanbury from England created a small Mediterranean and yet exotic plant variety in the middle of Liguria. Here you will find here not only European but also African, Asian and South American plants.
Leave your car by the sea after the meal. It is only a few metres to the old town of Ventimiglia (Ventimiglia Vecchia). You should therefore seize the opportunity and go on a small expedition. For example, you could visit the "San Michele" cathedral. This was built during the Romanesque epoch and offers a breathtaking contrast to the baroque churches in the area. Plain ... simple... but lovely!
From there, our expedition leads us along the narrow, dark lanes. Your aim: the vantage point. To round it off, you should treat yourself to a small chilling in the sea. If you rather prefer the sandy beach, then you should go further along the Via Marconi towards Menton. You will see a small path at the end of the street. This will take you to a small beautiful, semi-secluded bay after approx. 20 minutes. The evening can be wound down here amidst the last rays of sunbeams.
Pasta & Basta Restaurant in Ventimiglia
The spit of land alone on which the garden is located makes it worth a visit. You can indulge in your breakfast at leisure over the cliffs surrounded by the scent of flowers. After that, you can pamper yourself with homemade pasta and traditional yet extravagant sauces in the “Pasta & Basta” restaurant (via Marconi 20/A, Marina San Giuseppe, www.pastaebasta.it, Tel. 0184230878)—all while having a wonderful view of the sea. Even the guzzlers among us will not come off badly. Try, for example, the Crema Catalana.
Let’s go on an expedition to Bussana today. You can relax at Bussana’s free sandy beach in the morning, set out towards Centro in the early afternoon and then spend the evening in Arma di Taggia. It is best that you set out by car to Bussana Centro after a relaxed sunbath. By all means, you should visit the Sacro Cuore church (consecrated in 1901), which is located directly in the middle of the village. There is a beautiful playground for the little ones just next door.
After a short breather, the journey continues by car. You will arrive at the third station by driving uphill approx. 3 km to Bussana Vecchia. This is a place for artists and it was almost destroyed by an earthquake in 1887! A couple of decades later, thankfully, the place was renovated and rebuilt by hippies and artists.
Today, its heritage can still be viewed in the art galleries. While here, you can also visit handwork shops, a fortune-teller and a small botanical garden. Rub the leaves of the geraniums and enjoy the beguiling scent of lemon, mint or even pepper. As a farewell gift, you will also get a small plant from the house’s own nursery. Please also keep in mind that even without this souvenir, you’ll be graced with a lovely view. In the meantime there are approx. 60 inhabitants in the village who partly still live without electricity and enjoy life away from the hectic movement of everyday life. You can let yourself be pampered with delicious plain cooking under wine stalks in Osteria degli Artisi von Paolo in the heart of Bussana Vecchias. You should absolutely try the pesto Alla Genovese!
Arma di Taggia
After the meal, it is worth taking a digestive walk in Arma di Taggia. According to Italian custom, you wind down the evening while strolling on the seafront. During summer evenings there are many little handcraft and art stands erected at the promenade until shortly after midnight.
Start this excursion by car heading towards Lingueglietta after a substantial breakfast. The little mountain village is approx. 7 km above San Lorenzo al Mare. Follow the street into the village and drive up to the upper Piazza (turning point of the village). Park your car here and walk further to the sculpture park, “Tra i mondi”, by the German artist Carin Grudda (opening hours are July up to the end of October, Thur/Sun 15.00-20.00 or by telephone appointment 3472288928).
If you stand on the Piazza and the large church is on your right, then you will spy some sculptures in the opposite olive grove. If you now move behind the playground on the Piazza, then you can see an art post (similar to a mater post). Follow this, and on the way, you will discover other posts that will lead you to the park (approx. 2 km from the parking lot).
After the small art round, we recommend that you take a good coffee and a delicious brioche for refreshment in the little bar at the centre of the village in Castello von Lingueglietta—but don't eat too much! You should by all means still leave some space for dinner.
San Lorenzo al Mare
If you want to cool yourself down, you should use the beach in San Lorenzo al Mare. There you can relax in the waves and afterwards still enjoy the sun a bit. We recommend that you reserve a table at the Cascina Rio Rocca (1, Piazza Mazzini, 18017 San Lorenzo al Mare, Tel.: +39 0183279664, e-mail: email@example.com) towards 7.00/8.00 p.m. on the day before your visit since the food will take some time to prepare.
The typical Ligurian menu starts with many different antipastos, such as stuffed eggplants, pizza pieces, olives, foccacia, Torta Verda, trumpet, etc. This varies depending on the season! You should by all means make sure that you don’t eat yourself to the point of being full off of just one delicacy, because many others will be waiting for your consumption! After the antipastos comes the Primo Piatto—this is mainly pasta with the legendary Pesto Alla Genovese ….and then follows the “Coniglio Alla Ligure” as a Secondo; this is rabbit meat served with herbs, such as rosemary among others.
If you are a vegetarian or a non-rabbit eater in principle, then you should mention this when making the reservation. To round the meal off, the stomach calming espresso, or as the Italians say—the “caffè”—shouldn’t be missed! If you don’t like this, you can of course get a limoncello (lemon schnapps) or a good grappa instead. There are different types of wine on the menu, water and other non-alcoholic drinks (costs approx. €25 per person), a variety of options to suit your tastes.
If you feel like taking a digestive walk at this point, you should visit the fringes of San Lorenzo, heading towards Sanremo. This is where the Passeggiata al Mare or the Pista Ciclabile starts. This is a walkway or a cycle track that runs in the place of a railway line along the coast up to just shortly behind Sanremo. Inhale the fresh breeze and enjoy the evening atmosphere with the roaring waves! Taking a different approach, you can stroll through the small lanes of San Lorenzo. Whoever still feels like partaking in delicious ice cream can find it in the little side street opposite a bronze dog.
Wednesday or Saturday (9.00-12.30) is best suited for a small walk in the market. Thereafter you should get yourself a little refreshment in the bar (right at the end of the promenade at the playground). For this excursion, we recommend a piadina or a delicious brioche. If you are there before 12.00 noon, you can still slurp a cappuccino with a good conscience. After 12.00 noon, the Italians have the custom to only drink espresso (caffé). You can simultaneously enjoy the fresh sea breeze and watch people enjoying the waves.
In case you still feel like having a small shopping spree, the small shops in the arcade street—which gives wonderful shade during the summer and is found in the central part of Oneglia—open again after 3.30 p.m. As the crowning conclusion to it all, have ice cream at the Piazza Dante from the “Solo Gelato” ice-cream parlour. You must by all means try the fruit ice cream! If you love extravagance, the chocolate ice- cream with chilli is exactly the right thing for you!
The journey continues to the old part of the town of Porto Maurizio. You can reach the old part of town within a few minutes by car. Parking lots can be found at the cathedral or in the main shopping street, Via F. Cascione - at the Theatre (Teatro). A tour of the cathedral should be included in the itinerary by all means, if only because of the artistic decoration of the ceiling vault! After that, a walk through the upper old part of town, which directly borders the cathedral, is worthwhile.
If you feel tired, you can also take the elevator (which is behind the cathedral) to another "floor" of the Loggia Santa Chiara. From here one gets an enchanting view of the sea and can see up to San Lorenzo al Mare. After a substantial walk, you have hopefully become hungry. Let’s set out for the hinterland to Montegrazie. After approx. 20 minutes’ journey by car, you will reach this dreamy little village.
Do you know the book “The Water House of Montegrazie”? It is about this specific little sleepy village and its inhabitants. After arriving at the village, please keep to the right towards Santuario di Montegrazie.
The following legend is ascribed to the well-maintained church, which came into being because of an alleged appearance by the Holy Mary. At the time when disabilities were seen as a curse from God, a young deaf and dumb shepherdess met the Holy Mother of God. The latter gave her speech and hearing. To show his gratitude, her father erected a small chapel in that very place. The municipality later modified this into the present church, but the old stone of the chapel still forms the foundation stone.
The Agriturismo restaurant, Al Santuario di Montegrazie (Piazza Santuario 41, Montegrazie, Tel. 018369192), to which we are leading you to today, also has the same name as the church—once again it is important to make a reservation on the day before your visit since food is always cooked according to the number of people on a given day. Delicious antipastos, such as cauliflower pie, stuffed zucchini, farinata or the like will again pamper your palate here. After that, 2 primi follow—mainly homemade pasta and gnocchi with delicious sauces like the ragù or pesto and thereafter the Secondo "coniglio alla Ligure"—rabbit according to the Ligurian art of cooking. Of course there is “Dolce” after that: delicious Crema Catalana, Panna cotta or the Torta della Nonna (grandma’s cake) to round off the menu. Non-alcoholic drinks, as well as wine, and then the grappa or limoncello are included in the menu for approx. €23/person. There is a big roofed terrace where you can sit outside in the summer. During the colder months, one comfortably enjoys the rustic ambiance inside.
Start this day with stair-climbing as a sports activity! You can only get to Cervo's lovely and restored centre via stairs. You can decide, though, whether to park above Cervo or below it in the new part. Depending on your decision, we can recommend a visit to the museum of local history and culture, which, in the case of Castello, is located directly at the upper entrance. Apart from a collection of earlier age objects (tools, household objects, etc.), it also has a marvellous roof terrace from where one can enjoy a wonderful view of the entire bay up to Diano Marina. Entrance is free, by the way.
Small specialties and handcraft shops lie hidden in the small lanes of Cervo. The “Santa Caterina” church is also used as a showroom for art. In September, guitar and classical music concerts take place here in the evenings.
The church of San Giovanni Battista, which is a breathtaking piece of jewellery from the outside as well as the inside, is located at the great Piazza in the heart of Cervos. Simply sit down on the steps of the church and enjoy the lovely view of a turquoise-coloured sea. All the inhabitants of Cervos were involved in the construction of the church. Each stone was carried from the sea to the surface by hand. For refreshments while you mull over this communal project, we recommend that you visit the Serafino bar (closed on Tuesdays during the low season, open daily in the peak season), which is located directly below the Piazza and has a big terrace with a lovely view of the sea.
One can spend hours here and enjoy the sun as well as the fresh sea breeze, but take care not to forget the suntan cream, otherwise you will have a red nose later! The big and favourable sandwiches are a particular joy in the “Serafino”. You can buy these from 12.00 o’clock onwards, since that is when lunchtime starts. If you happen to still have some space left in your stomach after that, then you can indulge in a delicious homemade ice cream. If you’d rather wait until a little later, then a homemade limoncello is worth having. After a restful lunch break in the sun, the journey continues in the form of a retreat towards the sea. You can choose from several possibilities of descent here.
After the warming sun you can let yourself be surrounded by the cooling sea. Cervo has a beautiful stone and rock stand, which is very popular with the natives as well, since it is more secluded than the sandy beaches of Diano Marina. Whoever loves to go snorkelling can do this at the Capo Mimosa, which is located only a few metres away (towards Andorra, last beach section). Towards evening it is worthwhile to set off for Diano Marina, which is only 4 kilometres away.
There are small art and handcraft stands erected at the promenade in the evenings during the summer months. Whoever feels like it can also have himself drawn on portrait. For dinner, a visit to the Macaroni is highly recommended. This is one of the best—perhaps even the best—pasta restaurant in the neighbourhood. You can choose between approximately 40 different sauces. Take care with one portion, however, because it is a soup-tureen full; the good news is though that this can be shared without any problems. The Macaroni is very popular with families because of its delicious, and at the same time, favourable portions (a portion starts from approx. €4.50). If you are not yet tired after the meal, then do take a stroll through the small alleys of Diano Marina.
The shops are open for you in the evenings during summer from 9.00 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. If you still feel like having ice cream, a visit to Mr. Big in Via Ruffini is well worth taking. Or would a cocktail now better suit your tastes? Then let’s go to San Bartolomeo! Shortly after the village signpost you will see Valerie’s bar on the right side, which welcomes you with a stone figure at the entrance. Once inside with the comfortable Leo-look ambiance, the pirate Davide and his crew will welcome you. No matter which cocktail you try, you will be impressed!
Have you ever seen the film "Inkheart" with Brendan Fraser? Today we want to go after the traces of this film a little bit. After breakfast we shall first pay a visit to Laigueglia! Stroll through the little lanes that run parallel to the sea and enjoy the flair of this formerly small fishing village. The beach on which the coloured fishing boats lie served as a location for Inkheart. The aunt of the protagonists separated from her charges here and left Ben Fraser—the author of the book—to find it here.
If you feel like having ice cream, then you should by all means go to the small ice cream parlour opposite the fishing boats. It tastes particularly good here—for those who prefer to eat heartily, we recommend the pizza snack bar, directly next door. After that, the journey continues to Albenga.
A visit to the old part of town can be recommended here! One can best park at the railway station or in one of the side streets towards Mare. In the old part of town, one can visit the many Palazzi, e.g., the Palazzo Peloso Cepolla, which was built between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, featuring an angular tower from the 13th century.
Even the city hall with the house tower of the Malasemenza family and the old city hall palace with a tower are worth seeing. Equally beautiful is the Roman-Gothic cathedral of San Michele, as well as the early Christian baptism room from the 5th century. Located there is one of the Holy Trinity and a mosaic dedicated to the apostles, which is one of only two maintained in Byzantine style in Northern Italy. If you get hungry now, we shall have to ask you to hold out. After the small tour of the town we shall go up to Balestrino, to the hinterland of Borghetto Santo Spirito.
Upon arrival in Balestrino, we shall make a stop at the Castello. More scenes were shot here for "Inkheart" (unfortunately they are not accessible to the public, since it is private property). You can make an excursion to the Frantoio Lotus (Via Panizzi 10) before 7.00 p.m. You can tour an oil mill from the year 1295 in this place. The oil pressing takes place from October to February. You can buy homemade pesto in the neighbouring health food store. After a small walk we recommend you visit the RISTORANTE PASTORINO (Via Mazzini, 4 - Balestrino, tel. 0182 988109). It offers typically Ligurian cuisine, such as homemade pesto with handmade pasta, wild boar and rabbit, prepared with special herbs in the Ligurian way; they even offer and fish specialties as well. Typical dishes from Balestrino include the ravioli con il faraballà and the zuppa di ortaggi e legumi. You see, there is something in there for every taste!
We would like to take you on a beautiful walk to the Capo Noli today so fortify yourself substantially at breakfast since the walk will last approx. 5 hours (altitude increase 995 m, 16.5 km length). You can park your car in Noli directly by the sea below. Go on foot further to the Via XXV Aprile (this is found near the hotel Ariel).The walk starts here and continues through the Monte di Capo Noli – Alto Amoresi – Bric dei Crovi – Bric dei Monti – Pra Antonio – Colla di Magnone – S. Libera – Cà dei Gatti – Bivio Pra Martino – Colla di San Giacomo up to the mountain bike track. Walk back now along the street towards Noli.
The Centro Storico, which is located next to the famous eight mediaeval towers (there were formerly 72) and the San Paragio church from the 11th century, offers you many smaller shops with mouth-watering delicacies in the winding lanes. By all means, go and visit the Pastificio Rosalba, which is located in Via Colombo 79. What awaits you there are homemade pesto, stuffed ravioli with borretsch and the Torta Pasqualina.
The Cicciarelli, or the Lussotti as they’re also called, are a rare specialty from the region. These are small, slim silver fish that live in the waters situated shortly before the island of Bergeggi. If you feel like something sweet, you should simply stroll further to the Pasticceria Scalvini. Apart from the Baci di Noli, the Amarettini are also worth the effort. If you like raisins, then you should absolutely try the Pane del Pescatore (fisherman’s bread). It consists of raisins, pine nuts and candied fruits. After the many delicacies you can now go to Noli’s beautiful sandy beach for complete relaxation. The day can be rounded out beautifully with a good long bath in the waves!
Santa Margherita Ligure
Today we would like to take you a bit into the world of the rich and beautiful. Some of it will certainly seem familiar to you since Portofino Bay has already been seen in numerous films. You should begin, however, with a small tour of the town of Santa Margherita Ligure—the second chic place that has still kept its own flair despite its great popularity with the stars. The church of Santa Margherita d’ Antiochia in particular, which was built in 1876 with a baroque facade, is every bit worth of seeing. The boats to Portofino set sail at the big, beautiful promenade, where the statue of Santa Margherita is located.
We have planned a slow beginning for the first part of the day. Get yourself a one-way ticket for a trip by ship and walk back again in a relaxed manner. On arrival in Portofino we recommend that you first climb up to the Castello Brown and after touring it, go to the beautiful and spacious garden.
Enjoy the scent of pines and various flowers. If you would like to have a complete view over Portofino Bay up to Punta, you only need to invest 15 minutes. The white, 40 m high lighthouse is found at the end of the bay towards San Fruttuoso. Would you like to know why Portofino is one of the favourite places of celebrities? Then just take a stroll through the lanes … you will discover many exquisite designer labels here. Portofino is a little fishing village by appearance so to speak, but with an exquisite taste, not attainable for everyone and therefore still secluded and dreamy.
When afternoon approaches, you should set out again towards Santa Margherita Ligure, but this time you should take the footpath along the street. Breathtaking views of the sea and the steep coast will accompany you all the way to Santa Margherita Ligure. Are you hungry? Then rush to the Via dell'Arco 6. A delicious menu with typical local specialties awaits you there in the Ristorante il Nostromo (tel. 0185-281-390, price approx. € 20-30)—with a family atmosphere! Let your palate get to know the numerous antipastos!