The Italian – above all the Ligurian - culture is characterised by several shaping factors, and the hospitality and warm-heartedness of the population is an important one. In the villages people meet in the evenings on the Piazza for a friendly chat, which serves to enhance the sense of village life. You can stroll along the promenade and meet up in the evenings at local restaurants to eat with friends and the family. Children are always welcome, even at the later hours. During the summer months even a baby dance is organized, and thre is also the giant adventure playground, Mondo Bimbo, or the Luna Park fairground that has open gates at several places along the coast.
The Italian architectural style is also another interesting factor. Most villages date from the Middle Ages and are still very well maintained. Characteristic of these are the narrow lanes, also called Carruggi – which are found at the centre of the village. The center is mostly formed by the Piazza with the church. Many of the churches
date from the baroque period and are the gems of the village today.
Apart from the architecture and the Italian way of life, the landscape also contributes a large part to the Ligurian culture. You can still tour the different grottos today, particularly the grottos of Toirano
, which you will find contain art from the the Neanderthal period, making them well worth a visit. You should also not miss out on the small natural wonders, such as the small mountain lakes near Rocchetta Nervina, or the lovely waterfalls at Mendatica. On the artistically laid out olive terraces you can also admire the numerous olive trees which first reached Italy about 600 B.C. and are still one of the main sources of income for the region. The Taggiasca olive, in particular, grows in the region around Imperia. It ranks among the most palatable and gives the olive oil a quite special mild taste. In case you are interested in the exact details about the history and the production methods of olive cultivation, we recommend that you visit the Museo dell'Olivo
One can marvelously combine the ligurian cuisine with sports
by virtue of the interplay of mountains with the sea. In Liguria they have turned the old donkey paths, which used to connect the mountain villages with each other, into walkways. One of the largest is the Via del Sale
(salt way) which dates back to the Romans, and is at the same time part of the Alta Via del Monti Liguri
(Ligurian high altitude walkway). You will get home-made specialties
such as goat's milk cheese and other delicacies, in the mountain huts.
The Alta Via del Monti Liguri runs from southern France via the Ligurian sea Alps up to Tuscany. Besides walking, you can also do mountain biking, paragliding (especially in the Arroscia valley and the area around Finale Ligure) as well as mountain climbing. The limestone mountains near Finale Ligure and the area around Castelbianco are especially worthwhile in this regard. You can enjoy, too, the sea breeze while sailing, wind-surfing or kite-surfing. The endless coastal roads and panoramic streets are particularly suitable for racing cyclists. Anyone doing a cycle tour away from the traffic should use the Pista Ciclabile
, which stretches from the Ponente from San Lorenzo al Mare to to San Remo. At this place the old railroad track turns into a cycling/walking path.
What would the Ligurian culture be without its cuisine? Ligurian cuisine is a poor man's fare, being comprised of mainly simple ingredients, especially local vegetables such as spinach, beetroot, trombette (a kind of courgette) etc., delicious spices (basil, oregano), freshly caught fish (anchovies, tunafish) or meat (wild boar, lamb, goat). The highlight of Ligurian food is the combination of these ingredients, which is what makes it so unique. Depending on the region and valley, it is divided up into different cuisines. The Cucina Bianca, which is prominently found in the Valle Argentina and Valle d'Arroscia has, as the name already suggests, mostly white ingredients like the indigenous basil potatoes, garlic, leek and beetroot. The Cucina Verde, on the other hand, contains the delicious and famous pesto Alla Genovese. The local basil - which incidentally is related to mint - has smaller leaves than that from other regions and thrives particularly in Ort Prà near Genoa. Other local spices are oregano, mint, rosemary, thyme and chives. Almost in every place in Liguria will have its own local speciality: you will find the best white beans in Conio and Pigna, and garlic in Vessalico or Borghetto d Arroscia, while artichokes thrive best in Riva Ligure and San Remo. You should certainly not miss the very fine cheeses from the Arroscia valley such as Brusso Dell Alta Valle, Arroscia e Alta Valle Argentina, the Caprino di malga, the Formaggetta del Ponente, the Pecorino ligure di malga, the Ricotta and the Torna di Mendatica. You can buy these from the local farmers or at the weekly markets
Of course the Ligurian wine
is also an important part of the cuisine. The Rivera di Ponente (west of Liguria) is home to the Pigato and Vermentino white wines (the region around Albenga). The Pigato and also the Vermentino are half dry to dry white wines and are usually served with fish and meat dishes. The Rossese is Liguria's only red wine and is grown in the region around Dolceacqua. The Rossese is a half dry to dry wine and is said to have been Napoleon's favorite wine. At the Rivera di Levant on the other hand, there is the Volastro and the Vernaccia. The most valuable wine to be had is the Sciacchetrà. In the past it was drunk on quite a number of different occasions. However the "good one" is recognized today by the fact that it is not being drunk at every opportunity.
Lastly, we shouldn't forget the Ligurian traditions. These have arisen in the wake historical events such as the Battaglia dei Fiori in Ventimiglia, the Regatta dei Rioni in Noli or the mock pirate battle of San Benedetto in Arma di Taggia. There a re also the Sagras in Liguria from May to October. These are village festivals in which the villagers participate in preparing different delicious dishes from one special ingredient, creating a complete menu. You shouldn't, for instance, miss the truffle and sweet chestnut festival of Testico which takes place every year in September! After the meal there is music and dancing that goes on into the late hours. Apart from the festivals
there are of course also the traditional skilled trades, like the olive cultivation
, the wine cultivation, the weaving trade, ship building, the production of Campanini (particularly light chairs) from Chiavari as well as the famous racing cycle factory in Celle Ligure.
With its extensive culture, Liguria offers fun for the whole family, interesting places to tour and discover, various sports opportunities, a good balanced cuisine and plenty of relaxation.