Thursday, October 11, 2012

Liguria, land of quality

Liguria: a long, narrow strip of land between an arch of mountains and a deep sea. Such a beautiful region, yet rough and wild; this land preserves natural beauties and traditions to be discovered; it has a wealthy agricultural and culinary heritage, with numerous products and typical dishes, of which 300 specialties are included in the national list of traditional food products. The Ligurian land does not lavish quantity but is generous with the quality of its products; their excellence can be noticed in the flower growing, horticulture, vine and especially olive tree growing. Products which grow on a land that has no land; the difficult territorial morphology, which gives the landscape a unique and fascinating look, almost completely devoid of plains, apart from Albenga and Sarzana at the opposite ends; this has made it necessary to create areas to becultivated: the terraces that run for miles and miles along the whole region. In the Cinque Terre alone, thanks to the use of 8 million cubic meters of stone, 6,720 km of dry stone walls have been realized, equal to 2,000 hectares of farmland.

Ligurian wine growing has a modest weight within the Italian context, from a quantity point of view; however, it represents a significant reality in terms of quality: it boasts eight C.D.O.s (Ormeasco, Cinque Terre, Colli di Luni, Colline di Levanto, Golfo del Tigullio, Val Polcevera , Riviera Ligure di Ponente, Rossese Dolceacqua) and four T.G.I.s (Golfo dei Poeti La Spezia, Colline del Genovesato, Colline Savonesi, Terrazze dell’Imperiese). The Ligurian winegrowing industry is constantly increasing, also thanks to the food and wine tourism, which offers white wines such as the Pigato and the Vermentino, red wines such as the Rossese, the Ormeasco and the Ciliegiolo and straw wines like the renowned Sciacchetrà; this wine, sweet but not too sweet, also called “reinforced”, is obtained by leaving the grapes to dry up until late November. 

Basil is the aromatic herb chosen as the gastronomic symbol of the region, the special and unique ingredient of local cuisine; in Liguria it takes an unmistakably intense and full aroma. grown on terraces overlooking the sea, it is a product that should be appreciated, preferably “in situ”. The regional production is grown in the greenhouse during the winter and in the open fi eld during spring and summer time, but the taste does not change. its special qualities are determined by the brightness of the coast, the characteristics of the soil and salty air. The most important production areas are Prà, voltri and coronata for the genoese area, diano Marina, andora and albenga to the west and the Magra valley to the east.

Stages of the Genoese Pesto sauce preparation

The typical and most famous regional cold sauce is pesto, whose main ingredient is basil. The name “pesto” sums up the processing technique. The pounding in a marble mortar, which is necessary for enhancing all flavours. There are two secrets: use young leaves of plants that are no more than two months old and crush the leaves and garlic by pounding them in a mortar, instead of using a food blender. The difference is noticeable on the palate. You then just add to the basil and garlic, the extra virgin olive oil “Riviera Ligure” , pine nuts, salt and cheese (preferably Parmesan or pecorino cheese).

1 Put the garlic in the mortar
2 Add the pine nuts
3 Add P.D.O. Genoese basil, a pinch of salt and grind in the mortar
4 Add the grated cheese
5 Add the extra virgin Olive oil
6 Mix the ingredients and grind and the sauce is ready !


A city of art and a metropolis facing the sea, Genoa grew around the port, a natural inlet that has always been a place of thriving traffic and business exchanges. Its antique heart, the largest medieval historical centre in Europe, is crossed by a tight network of lanes, where the multicultural soul that has always characterised the city history gathers. A visit to the Palazzi dei Rolli, on the Unesco World Heritage List, cannot be missed: sumptuous dwellings that bring back a little of the atmosphere that existed in Genoa between the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Modern life is just a few steps away, in the places that were restored and renovated - the Expo with the Aquarium, via San Lorenzo, Palazzo Ducale, and the splendid via Garibaldi that is full of museums. The fascination of the city can also be found from Nervi to Voltri, independent municipalities from the Twenties, where you can find villas surrounded by Nineteenth century parks, suggestive sea walks, small and large museums.
The small villages and large centres that face the Golfo Paradiso, with a sea front that is recognised throughout the world because of its extraordinary beauty, are intense and multiform blotches of colour clinging to the rocks. The narrow, high and very colourful fishermen’s houses make the coastline unique. Along this stretch of coast small beaches alternate with rocks covered by trees and maquis shrubland. A great marine tradition is continued in the areas facing the coastline, above all in Camogli: its characteristic port contains numerous Gozzi (small fishing boats) with their nets spread out under the sun, and you will find the Marine museum in its centre.
The valleys around the great Genoa, which from the sea reach the Apennines along the rivers Scrivia, Bisagno, Polcevera, Stura and Leira, are dotted with villas and noble dwellings built during the past centuries by the most influential noble and bourgeois families of the city, who loved to pass their holidays here. Even today the peacefulness of the small centres, the mild climate of the high ground and the beauty of the countryside draw a large number of holidaymakers: there are many places that are perfect for long walks, horse riding or bike rides and food and wine routes.
The small villages are full of history that can be seen in the age-old abbeys (Tiglieto abbey is famous) and turreted castles that display the estates of Doria, Fieschi, Malaspina and Spinola, for example Casella and Campo Ligure, famous also for filigree work. Castello della Pietra in Vobbia is a different story, because of the aura of mystery that surrounds it: it is an exceptionally important example of cohesion between the work of man and the natural environment, constructive economy and military techniques.