San Remo, Ventimiglia, Savona & Italy's Western Rivieraby Amy Finley
Thin and crescent-shaped, Liguria is predominantly coastline (only 23 miles wide at its widest point) and is backed by the Apennine Mountains that stretch northward into the Italian region of Piedmont. This inland section - sometimes referred to as the hinterland - is filled with small villages that dot the hillsides, perch on mountain peaks, and line the floor of valleys that cut through the terrain. Liguria is classically divided into two sections, dubbed the Riviera di Ponente (in the west, for where the sun sets) and the Riviera di Levante (in the east, for where the sun rises). The western Riviera is home to the coastal cities of Bordighera, San Remo, Alassio, Albenga, Noli, Varazze, and others. Inland you'll find Dolceacqua, Pieve di Teco, Sassello, and other hilltop villages. Generally speaking, the coast of the western Riviera is characterized by broad, sandy beaches, especially around the resort towns of Alassio, Varigotti, and Varazze. (Possibly the best sand beach of the Riviera is at Varigotti.) The inland towns of the western Riviera are some of the most interesting in Liguria, both for their history and their gorgeous settings amid the forests, valleys, and peaks of the Apennine Mountains. The hiking here is also fantastic, and the trails are frequented as well by mountain bikers and riders on horseback. The province of Savona here, runs from Andora to Urbe and is colloquially referred to as the Riviera dei Palme. The seaside towns uniformly boast palm-lined promenades where people congregate at night for the passegiata (an early evening stroll where friends and neighbors are greeted, children are admired, and a lot of flirting goes down). The name also refers to the palms that grow among the olives and Mediterranean maquis on the hillsides. (However, legend holds that the first palm seed in Liguria came ashore in the fourth century at Bordighera, on the Riviera dei Fiori.)
Meet the Author
AMY FINLEY was the winner of the third season of the hit show The Next Food Network Star. After her win, she hosted Food Network’s The Gourmet Next Door. A Paris-trained cook and pastry chef, she was a regular contributor to Bon Appétit. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband and their children.
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