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Travel to Liguria

Some of my friends, as it turned out, did not know where Liguria was. At the same time, they travel to Provence and Tuscany through time. I explain to them: this is an Italian province, just between Provence and Tuscany, a continuation of the French Cote d’Azur, a narrow crescent of rocky slopes between sea and land.

Pro pesto heard?

Here it is from there.

In Liguria, a lazy summer vacation seems to be vulgar — beach volleyball in a bikini and beer at a hot afternoon.

However, such a pastime here is rather a rarity: if near the French border — where San Remo and the so-called Flower Riviera — the beaches are wide and allow you to roam, then further, towards Tuscany, the coast turns into solid rocky cliffs. Huge boulders do not allow bathers to the water, and instead of a strip of sand here are narrow paths cut in the rocks.

Along the sea along these paths you can walk the whole of Liguria, and by this it turns out to be a hundred times more valuable than any flashy south.

I used to be here earlier in the summer, and now, being in Liguria in the off-season, I stand at the entrance to the sea near the Genoa – Nervi station and look around: where is everyone? In the summer, on this path, you need to make your way almost with your elbows, and now there are only a few people in sight.

The sun gently, like through a frosted glass, shines through the clouds. Stuns the roar of the waves crashing against the stones.

A cafe opens, and I sit down at a table to decide which way to go.

In Liguria, for detailed trips you need a lot of time: you wake up early in the morning, you go all day and then in a few minutes you come back on the train, which also runs along the sea.

So to the right is Genoa. That is, this village of Nervi, with its noble villas, rose gardens, parks, where heavyweight squirrels block the way and require food, with its air, in which sea freshness, cypress and roses are mixed, is still a city. Genoa seems to be endless: in the 30s of the last century, by decree of Mussolini, the nearest fishing villages and bourgeois suburbs with spectacular mansions were attached to the capital.

This is how it stretched in length, but at the same time remained very narrow in width (the seascape opens from everywhere).

Just imagine: “sleeping areas” like the fishing village of Bokadasse, where boats are “parked” on the streets on a par with cars!

If you turn left, you can see how the villages “run wild” along with the coast, and gradually get to places where the road ends, and the train, having surrendered, goes up the hill. And the next village and in our XXI century can only be reached by boat on the water.

I’ll go, I think, to the left.

By noon, I am in Camogli. Not to say that I am hungry: my main entertainment on the way is to buy pistachio ice cream in the shops with the names antica gelateria, dive from time to time in a sleepy town and look in the «cookery».

We discuss the merits of each dish with the seller, which is better and fresher today. At the end, I take a large piece of “pascualin cake” with artichokes. The Ligurians have their own version of Italian “fast food”: pizza is considered to be a stranger, and on the move they have a snack on cold rice cakes, focaccia and this open, crispy pastry, “pasqualina”, which is always a layer of filling.

Pies — with zucchini, beet-leaf tops, with herbs — lie beautifully in shop windows and gradually decrease, until by evening there is only one eloquent slice, or even just crumbs.

Camogli is a real city by local standards: there is a wide promenade with children’s merry-go-rounds and swimming pools, ancient houses in a semicircle in front of the sea, like a stalls in front of the stage. On the waterfront, as it should be, rare tourists dine and, while drinking coffee, retired people read newspapers.

But in this journey, I sharpen the tactic of “eat where the locals are,” so I go deep into the streets and choose the smallest inhabitant: the servant of the bank locks the office. «Do not tell me where you can eat here?» — I ask. “There are many restaurants on the waterfront,” she replies, without turning around. “No, so that was delicious.

You understand me? ”“ Mm … ”she already looks respectfully. “Well, then go to Paolo.”

… Paolo’s tables are covered with oilcloth, the stern mother without a shadow of a smile brings the menu.

In the open door of the kitchen, Paolo himself is visible, a shaggy guy of about thirty-five in a T-shirt and faded jeans, who is cooking and freezes from time to time, looking at the TV.

Mom serves cuttlefish pate — translucent pink cubes, thawing in warm air, with lemon and toast (“Yes, we have delicious pate, we know, but don’t ask, do not give the recipe,” she says calmly in response to my delight) . And homemade pasta, which she herself chose — hand-rolled «flowers» gigli allo scoglio, with clams (“This is the only thing that was caught today, no octopuses, see, what a turbulent sea!”). The intensity of the taste of the paste becomes such a shock for me that I sit and stare at an empty plate for a few more minutes.

Mom is happy.

I ask if you can personally thank Paolo, and she finally laughs.

— This is not Paolo. Paolo is my husband, he is a long time retired, and Angelo, our son, is preparing.


Come out to say hello to the signorina!

Angelo comes out of the kitchen, and we talk and review the diplomas that hung the walls of the restaurant — like «Paolo — for the best interpretation of the 1982 Ligurian dish.»

… After lunch, out of breath, I run to the embankment, from where a boat departs twice a day to San Fruttuoso — a village in a secluded bay, which can only be reached by water.

There, for some reason, there is a statue of Christ on the bottom of the sea, and it is also visible only from a boat.

— Uh, Signorina, excitement at sea!

There is no boat today, come tomorrow, the day will be good — then we will sail.

And right behind San Fruttuoso — Portofino, one of the most secular parts of Europe.

It looks exactly the same — no better and no worse than the others — a fishing village, just half a century ago he was lucky to shelter several happily in love Hollywood couples.

Once I was with a Hollywood chic swam on a cruise ship along Liguria: in Portofino, we went down to the beach, walked through boutiques, drank icy prosecco, admiring yachts, and went to dinner at the hotel Splendido, the former Benedictine monastery, where black and white photos of famous guests are now hanging on the terrace.

By the way, Liguria disputes with Tuscany the right to the title of not only the most beautiful, but also the most expensive Italian province. In most resort towns for more than a century they have not built new buildings and do not know what dismal high-rise buildings are.

Existing villas are not that expensive — they simply can not be bought. Lunch at Splendido An occasional interviewee told us the story of how one signora decided to sell a house in Portofino — among those who wanted to buy was Prime Minister Berlusconi. Berlusconi the landlady refused, but in the end she told the realtors that she would sell the villa only to Dolce and Gabbana.

The designers were called, and they immediately agreed.

But there are even more amazing places in Liguria, and one of them is in the very east of the province, the Cinque Terre.

Cinque terre — five medieval towns, stuck, like shells to the hull of the ship, to the rocks above the sea. It is impossible to get to the four of them by car — either by train or on foot, along those paths.

And there are no cars in them.

Churches, fortresses and houses here are partially made of stone, to which the architects attached all the missing, creating a real multi-colored monolith.

Inside it — the tangles of steep stairs, lined with pots of cyclamens, secret passages, low doors, through which you find yourself in ancient bars.

Lemon trees on the roofs, cats in the windows behind the apertured shutters, patterns laid out by shells on tiny squares … A special microcosm.

In one of the five cities — Manarola — stumble on the bench Prodotti tipici di cinqueterre. I am in the shops of «typical» products pulling like a cat to valerian, but here I come with caution: who knows what they have among the stones.

On the shelves, however, closely. The hostess, having cut off the conversation with a neighbor in mid-sentence, rushes to me to explain what is what.

Lemon marmalade — environmentally friendly — «the best in Italy!». Anchovies in olive oil — «Sicilian and did not swim nearby!» Olive pates!

Spice mixes for pasta!

Wild herb sauces!

And the “Queen of the Shelf!” Is the sweet Shinketerra Cinqueterre wine (a miniature bottle at the price of gold).

I leave the store by another person — full of respect. I look around the neighborhood and see that in reality every centimeter of wild rocks, broken into terraces, is lovingly processed and something grows on it.

Well, indestructible Italians craving for delicious food!

I go to the trattoria to eat a chowder with shells.

Still, sea reptiles get here easier than potatoes.

In Genoa, I live on the street on September 20th — honestly, the most pompous of all I have seen in my life: mosaics on the sidewalks, royal porticoes, Atlanta and Gothic dragons on the facades, shining showcases. On the other hand, my hotel is absolutely family run. The guest house in a huge old apartment is owned by an operetta beauty, Sicilian Rosalia.

The receptionist is her ex-husband Marco, a cook.

In the evenings in the kitchen, he prepares dinners for the whole family: their daughter students Sarah (she sometimes spends the night right there), a son with a pregnant bride, an aunt, a cousin, Rosalia and her new husband herself.

I am the only resident here, and Rosalia, who cares about me with maternal tenderness, invites me to dinner.

On the last morning, Marco (who also cooks breakfast) asks what I would like, and I suddenly wake up — I haven’t tried pesto!

Marco freezes in an eloquent pose of an offended Italian. Sara shouts: “You should try papto papto!

My girlfriends are crazy about him! ”In the evening on the table is a steaming pot with emerald spaghetti. The fresh aroma of grass, like gin from a bottle, spreads in a green cloud around the house. “Tell me,” I ask, suddenly remembering a joke about the nationalist Ligurians, who recognize only Basil of Pra and marble mortars in order to crush it with cheese, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil, but you can really tell by the taste of basil from Phra from any other? ”Silence reigns, and the family, looking up from the plates, looks at me. «Are you kidding? — Marco replies. “Why, it’s impossible to take another basil in your mouth!”

Museum «Shyaketra»In Manarola. Here they will tell all about the sweet and frivolous joy of Cinqueweter winemakers and without coquetry will answer the question why «Shyaketra«(Accent on the last syllable) is so expensive.

In a nutshell, the answer will be this: you try to grow grapes on our land and keep it on the vine until November, and then see how much wine will turn out.

Villas and private galleries. The owners of many luxurious villas by the sea generously open their gates to the public: you can spend whole days walking in gardens with lakes, grottoes and rose gardens — as with villas Ormond and Hanbury near Sanremo or Serra, Gropallo and Grimaldi at Nerves.

In some (for example, in the latter) you can also see the art collections.

Trofetta (trofiette) — Ligurian type of pasta with walnut flour. To paste take a jar of crema di ruccola or crema di noci — a sauce with rucola or nuts.

Get a set for an Italian dinner, not without exotics.

Anchovies In oil. There is a whole category of people for whom a glass jar with a neat pattern of anchovies inside is the best gift.

Anchovies are sold everywhere, but the Genoese traditionally follow them to Eastern Market (Mercato Orientale) on central via Xx settembre.

Floral perfume. Aromas — an essential attribute of Liguria.

West of the province is called the Flower Riviera due to the fact that there are whole plantations of lavender, carnations and hyacinths for the production of perfumes.

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