The Italian Riviera is a beautiful stretch of Mediterranean coastline, set behind a mountain chain and stretches between the French Cote d’ Azur and Tuscany. The Riviera or to give it the correct name of Liguria, is one of the country’s smallest but most intriguing regions.
The beaches border naturally sparkling clear waters and the towns and villages stretching along it take one back to a time of old style pre-war vacations. This narrow arc of the Riviera is backed by the Maritime Alps and because of these it is well a sheltered strip of land with a mild microclimate and unquestionably the prettiest, most flower-filled stretch of Italian coast, in fact the western stretch is often named the Riviera di Fiore’s.
To the east of the coast lies the City of Genoa which in itself is an historic centre but the west is where most holiday makers will head for. Here you will find wide beaches, lush surroundings and a trip to Ventimiglia with its pebble beach and lively Friday market, is the place to head for if you want excellent for leather goods.
A visit to San Remo in the west is well worth it as it has a plethora of ancient and splendid 19th-century villas, whilst the gamblers can visit the casino dating from 1904 as well as a maze of a medieval old town. Travel east now and you will find yourselves in olive country near the town of Imperia, while beyond lies Diano Marina with a long sandy beach and a cheerful summer buzz. Alassio offers a 3km sweep of sands dotted with deck chairs and beach umbrellas.
To get away from the beach scene a trip into Genoa will take you to one of the largest medieval old towns in Europe confirmed by a trip down Via Garibaldi, a 16th-century style street lined with magnificent town palaces, and as many of these are now banks, you can take a look inside and see some of the courtyards and frescoed lobbies.
No visit to this area would be complete without a trip into the delightful fishing village of Portofino, lying to the east of Genoa, where you will find that little has changed from the Sixties, then the haunt of Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra.
Flying to Genoa is the main option and both Ryanair and British Airways have a reasonable timetable, but driving down to the Italian Riviera is a good option too as a car here would give the opportunity to take in the whole coast and perhaps fit in Monte Carlo as well.
Picture: Matteo Bittanti