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 pasta, sauces, pizza, meat and game dishes, appetizers (antipasti), vegetables, oil, Balsamico vinegar, delicious desserts and of course the wines and the liquor Grappa to conclude the meal.
Italian cuisine reflects Italian lifestyle, it´s based on cooking fun and has always meant enjoyable moments with family and friends.
Villa Hanbury – Ventimiglia
Don't miss the villa Hanbury and its legendary garden. The splendor of the garden can especially be observed in the autumn and spring. The brothers Thomas and Daniel Hanbury from England created a small Mediterranean and yet exotic plant variety in the middle of of Liguria. You will find here not only European but also African, Asian and South American plants. The spit of land alone on which the garden is located makes it worth a visit. You can continue your breakfast at leisure over the cliffs surrounded by the scent of flowers.
You can then pamper yourself with home-made pasta and traditional but also extravagant sauces in the “Pasta & Basta” restaurant (via Marconi 20/A, Marina San Giuseppe, www.pastaebasta.it, Tel. 0184230878) while having a wonderful view of the sea. Even the guzzlers among us will not come off badly. Try, for example, the Crema Catalana.
Leave your car by the sea after the meal. It is only a few meters to the old town of Ventimiglia (Ventimiglia Vecchia). Therefore you should seize the opportunity and go on a small expedition. For example, 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 after approx. 20 minutes to a small beautiful, a bit secluded bay. The evening can be wound down here amidst the light of the last sunbeams here.
Bussana - Bussana Vecchia
Let’s go on an expedition to Bussana today. You can relax at Bussana’s free sandy beach in the morning, in the early afternoon you will set out towards Centro and then spend the evening in Arma di Taggia.
It is best that you set out with the 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, which was almost destroyed by an earthquake in 1887. A couple of decades later the place was renovated and rebuilt by hippies and artists. Today, its heritage can still be viewed in the art galleries. In addition, you can also visit handwork shops, a fortune-teller and a small botanical garden here. Rub the leaves of the geraniums and enjoy the beguiling scent of lemon, mint or even pepper. As farewell you will also get a small plant from the house’s own nursery as a souvenir, apart from a lovely view. In the mean time there are approx. 60 inhabitants in the village who partly still live without electricity and enjoy life away from the hectic 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!
After the meal a digestion walk in Arma di Taggia is worth taking. According to an 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.
Lingueglietta - San Lorenzo al Mare
Start this excursion by car 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" of the German artist Carin Grudda (opening hours 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 can already discover some sculptures in the olive grove opposite. If you now move behind the playground on the Piazza, then you can already see an art post (similar to a Mater post). Follow this, and on the way you will discover other posts which 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 have some space ready for the dinner. 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 for the Cascina Rio Rocca (1, Piazza Mazzini, 18017 San Lorenzo al Mare, Tel.: +39 0183279664, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) towards 7.00/8.00 p.m. already on the day before because the food will take some time.
The typical Ligurian menu starts with many different antipastos, such as stuffed eggplants, pizza pieces, olives, Foccacia, Torta Verda, trumpet,... This varies depending on the season! You should by all means make sure that you don’t eat yourself to the full on one delicacy, 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 as Secondo follows the "Coniglio Alla Ligure" - this is rabbit meat served with herbs, among other things rosemary. If you are a vegetarian or a non-rabbit eater in principle, then you should mention this already when making the reservation. And to round it off, the stomach calming espresso, or as the Italians say – the "caffè", shouldn’t of course miss! If you don’t like this, you can of course also get a Limoncello (lemon schnapps) or a good Grappa. Of course there is sufficient wine on the menu, water and other non-alcoholic drinks (costs approx. €25 per person).
If you feel like taking a digestive walk at this point, you should visit the fringes of San Lorenzo towards San Remo. This is where the Passeggiata al Mare or the Pista Ciclabile starts. This is a walkway or a cycle track which runs in the place of a railway line along the coast up to shortly behind San Remo. Let the fresh breeze blow around your nose and enjoy the evening atmosphere with the roaring waves! Or you can stroll through the small lanes of San Lorenzo. Whoever still feels like a delicious ice cream can find it in the little side street opposite a bronze dog which you have surely already admired in the sculpture park.
Imperia – Montegrazie
Wednesday or Saturday (9.00-12.30) is best suited for a small walk in the market. Thereafter you should get yourself a small refreshment in the "..." bar (right at the end of the promenade at the playground). For this we recommend you 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 only drink espresso (caffé), from what is known. At the same time you can enjoy the fresh sea breeze and watch the people in the waves. In case you still feel like having a small shopping spree, the small shops in the arcade street – which gives a wonderful shade in summer and is found in the central part of Oneglia - open again after 3.30 p.m. As a crowning conclusion to it all, an ice cream at the Piazza Dante from "Solo Gelato" ice-cream parlor. You must by all means try the fruit ice-cream! If you love extravagance, the chocolate ice-cream with chili is exactly the right thing for you!
The journey continues to the old part of town of Porto Maurizio. You can reach the old part of town within a few minutes by car. You find parking lots 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 is borders directly on 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 reach the dreamy little village. Do you know the book "The water house of Montegrazie"? It is about this little sleepy village with its inhabitants. After arriving in 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 place. The municipality later modified this into the present church, however the old stone of the chapel still forms the foundation stone. The Agriturismo restaurant Al Santuario di Montegrazie (Piazza Santuario 41, Montegrazie, Tel. 018369192) into which we want to lead you today, is also called by the same name as the church – it is important here too to make the reservation on the day before since food is always cooked according to the number of people. Delicious antipastos, such as cauliflower pie, stuffed zucchini, farinata or the like, will again pamper your palate here. After that, 2 primi follow - mainly home-made pasta and gnocchi with delicious sauce 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 (grandmas cake) 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 outside in summer. During the colder months one enjoys the rustic ambiance inside comfortably.
Cervo - Diano Marina
Start this day with stair-climbing as a sports activity! You can only get to Cervo's lovely and restored center via stairs. You can decide, though, whether to park above Cervos or below in the new part. Depending on your decision, we can recommend you 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 marvelous roof terrace from where one can have a wonderful view of the complete bay up to Diano Marina. Entrance is by the way free.
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 jewelry from the outside and also inside is located at the great Piazza in the heart Cervos. Simply sit down on the steps of the church and enjoy the lovely view of a turquoise-colored sea. All inhabitants of Cervos were involved in the construction of the church. Every stone was carried one by one from the sea to the surface by hand. For refreshment 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 caution: Don't forget the suntan cream, otherwise you will have a red nose later! The big and favorable sandwiches in particular are a joy for the teeth in the "Serafino". You can buy these starting from 12.00 o’clock onwards, since that is when the lunchtime starts. If you happen to still have some space in the stomach after that, then you can still allow yourself a delicious home-made ice cream anyway. If it is a little later, then a home-made limoncello is worth having. After a restful lunch break in the sun the journey continues down stairs towards the sea. You can choose 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 also with the natives since it is more secluded than the sandy beaches of Diano Marina. Whoever loves to go snorkeling can do this at the Capo Mimosa which is located only a few meters away (towards Andorra, last beach section). Towards evening it is worthwhile setting off for Diano Marina which is only 4 kilometers 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 worthwhile. This is one of the best - perhaps even the best - pasta restaurant in the neighborhood. You can choose between approximately 40 different sauces. But caution: one portion is a soup-tureen full - however, this can be shared without any problem. The Macaroni is particularly very popular with families because of the delicious and at the same time favorable portions (a portion 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 an ice cream, a visit to Mr. Big in Via Ruffini is worth taking. Or would a cocktail now taste better for you? Then let’s go to San Bartolomeo, shortly after the village signpost you will see the Valeries 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 welcome you. No matter which cocktail you try, you will be impressed!
Laigueglia – Albenga - Balestrino
Have you ever seen the film "Ink heart" 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 which run parallel to the sea and enjoy the flair of this formerly small fishing village. The beach on which the colored fishing boats lie served as a location for Ink Heart. The aunt of the protagonists separated from her charges here and left Ben Fraser - the author of the book – to find it here.
WIf you feel like an ice cream, then you should by all means go to the small ice-cream parlor 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 built between the Middle Ages and Renaissance with 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 is 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 the mosaic dedicated to the apostles, one of the 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 town we shall go up to Balestrino, to the hinterland of Borghetto Santo Spirito.
On arrival in Balestrino we shall make a stop at the Castello. Some more scenes were shot here for "Ink Heart" (unfortunately not accessible for 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 home-made pesto in the neighboring health food store. After a small walk we recommend you the RISTORANTE PASTORINO (Via Mazzini, 4 - Balestrino, tel. 0182 988109). It offers typically Ligurian cuisine, such as the home-made pesto with handmade pasta, wild boar and rabbit prepared with special herbs in the Ligurian way or also fish specialties. Typical dishes from Balestrino are the ravioli con il faraballà and the zuppa di ortaggi e legumi. You see - there is something in there for every taste!
Capo Noli - Noli
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 8 sex towers (they 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.
Go and visit the Pastificio Rosalba, which is located in Via Colombo 79, by all means. Awaiting you there are home-made pesto, stuffed ravioli with borretsch or the Torta Pasqualina. The Cicciarelli, or also called Lussotti, are a rare specialty from the region. These are small slim silver fish which live in the waters 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 dainties you can now go to Noli’s beautiful sandy beach completely relaxed. The day can be wound up beautifully with a good long bath in the waves!
Santa Margherita - Portofino
Today we would like to take you a bit to the world of the rich and beautiful. Some of it will certainly seem familiar to you since the bay of Portofino 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 which still has kept its own flair despite great popularity with the stars. The church of Santa Margherita d’ Antiochia in particular, which was built in 1876 with a baroque façade, is every bit worth seeing. The boats to Portofino set sail at the big beautiful promenade, where the statue of Santa Margherita is.
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 relaxed and restfully. On arrival in Portofino we recommend that you first climb up to the Castello Brown and after touring it, go to the beautiful spacious garden. Enjoy the scent of the pines and the various flowers. If you would like to have a complete view over the bay of Portofino 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 favorite places for the stars? 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 it is approaching afternoon you should set out again towards Santa Margherita Ligure, but this time you take the footpath along the street. Whoever feels like, can also partly walk through the forest. 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!