National Geographic Traveller (UK)
From sea to summit in Liguria
With colossal peaks nose-diving into the Italian Riviera, this region entices with art, history and cuisine. Words: Kerry Walker
Located in Italy’s north-west crook, with the imposing Alps and Apennines crashing down into a sapphire sea, Liguria is a region that punches high in maritime history and memorable cuisine. Genoa and Portofino are among its most renowned coastal destinations, but slip just a few miles inland to find a quieter side to the region, where rural villages reveal Liguria’s true soul.
Less than an hour’s drive east of Genoa, on a narrow road wriggling through the Apennines, Uscio is a vision of historic houses in fresco painter’s pastels, spread across forested hillsides. This Ligurian town receives just a trickle of tourists every year, so you’ll largely find yourself alone enjoying sights such as Pieve di Sant’Ambrogio, a Romanesque church in faded redbrick, with its origins in the sixth and seventh centuries when the bishops of Milan flocked to Genoa. Meanwhile, the Museo dell’Orologio da Torre Roberto Trebino, housed in an old factory, presents a fascinating romp through horology, with various timepieces from Italy, France, Germany and Austria, including rare 17th-century models and state-of-theart designs.
Like most of Liguria, Uscio is also a village with gastronomic roots. Italy’s feted focaccia rolls out of Ligurian ovens, crisp, golden and bubbling. It’s protected by European PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status, meaning the authentic product can only come from local municipalities using specific ingredients and following strict regulations. At Focacceria Manuelina, in nearby Recco, the Carbone family’s cheesefilled focaccia is made according to their great-grandmother’s original 1885 recipe — flour, stracchino (soft, creamy cow’s milk cheese) and extra virgin olive oil.
Other local specialities worth trying across Liguria include farinata (thin chickpea pancakes), cappon magro (a seafood and vegetable salad), corzetti (fresh pasta discs embellished with a medieval floral motif) and pesto, which originated from Genoa. The basil used is considered the finest in the world due its smaller leaves and more delicate flavour.
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