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Located in the northern-west part of Italy is Liguria, one of the country's smallest regions. The capital of Liguria is Genoa, a large and fascinating port that is known to be the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.

Liguria is home to seaside resort towns, coves, beaches, forests, flowers and beautiful hillsides, but is most famous for the Italian Riviera, two boomerang-shaped coastlines that lie on each side of its capital, Genoa.

The coastline between the French border and Genoa is called La Riviera di Ponente, characterised by long sandy beaches and several interesting and historical resorts. San Remo, one of Liguria's best-loved spots, is famous for its Festival della Canzone, and towns that sit in the valleys and have remained unchanged by time.

On the opposite side of Genoa, along the stretch that extends towards Tuscany, is La Riviera di Levante. If Ponente has long beaches, Riviera di Levante has picturesque mountains and cliffs, which hang over the coastline giving way to spectacular coves. The Golfo dei Poeti an area that was frequented by European aristocrats and literati in the nineteenth century. Other places of interest in Liguria include Via Garibaldi, an area known for its patrician palaces and herringbone brick pavement, the Royal Palace, which houses an excellent collection of European art; and the cloisters of Sant'Andrea which dates back to the 12th Century.

Along the coast, one can sail, windsurf, kite surf, kayak, scuba dive and even water ski. The coast and the inland area also offer excellent conditions for other outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. Liguria is home to seventeen protected areas, including the Promontory of Portofino, and the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri, a 400 km long trail that can be done on foot, horseback or mountain bike.

Often described as traditionally Mediterranean, the basis of Ligurian cuisine is olive oil, wine and pesto -- the famous specialty sauce made from garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese and basil. Because of its ubiquitous location, Liguria has a host of fantastic seafood dishes, where anchovies, whitebait and sea bass commonly have a starring role. Mushrooms, truffles, berries and other delectable forest produce are also seen in this region's tasty recipes.

This small region is also a producer of some of the best traditional Italian wines in the country, with a large variety of high quality wines at superb value. Worth sampling are Liguria's rare reds, such as the full-bodied Rossese Dolceacqua, which was the first Ligurian red to receive the DOC.


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