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The undiscovered coastal region in north-west Italy

Liguria is still a secret! Everyone knows Tuscany, South Tyrol, Venice and Rome. But Liguria? The name sounds like Portofino or Sanremo yet somehow familiar, but do these places lie in Liguria? Yes!

Liguria, one of the smallest sun-drenched regions of Italy, situated between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea just next to the French border. It is an entirely hilly and mountainous region, only less than 3% of the total area consists of plains. Due to the special climate - (seldom below 10 degrees in winter and almost never more than 30 degrees in summertime) in the 19th century, the rich Englishman sought refuge from the English rain in the Riviera. The magnificent villas in Sanremo, Alassio and Bordigiera date from that time.

In between is Imperia, a town on the Riviera that rarely appears in guidebooks.


Maybe that's a good thing, because Imperia has been spared from mass tourism.

Imperia consists of two districts that have been independent cities for centuries. One Porto Maurizio was characterized by rural culture, trade and nobility, the other Oneglia by industry and the port.

Evening atmosphere in the harbor of Oneglia Imperia Liguria

The old town of Porto Maurizio, Parasio, has an almost completely preserved medieval structure, a hill of houses with labyrinthine streets, stairs and underpasses. Everything wildly romantic, very authentic and fortunately not yet "restored to death". Porto Maurizio also has a nice little port and very nice sandy beaches.

Oneglia, on the other hand, is slowly shedding its industrial past and becoming a hip, chic city. The factories are closing, and more and more excellent restaurants and bars are springing up in the harbour. In addition to the fishing boats, where you can still buy fresh fish, there are more and more luxury yachts. The beautiful Via Bonfante with its arcades becomes more and more interesting. There are very good grocery stores, boutiques and bars. There is a large market in Oneglia twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday. Here you will find everything from tablecloths to flowers and handbags to Parma ham.

If you go from Oneglia towards Diano Marina (you take the never-completed coastal road), you will find very clean pebbly beaches, mostly empty.

Vasia. Liguria. A typical historically preserved village in the hinterland of Imperia. Val Prino.

The hinterland of Imperia represents a contrast to the hustle and bustle on the coast. Here you will find untouched nature, olive groves as far as the eye can see and many small villages. In the 1950s, a large rural exodus began in the hinterland and many places were almost deserted. As a result, however, their structure remained unchanged and they were spared the building frenzy of later years. In the meantime, many tourists from the north have discovered these places and young Italians are also returning to the homes of their ancestors.

The village houses, alleys and churches look like something out of a fairy tale. Many still date from the Middle Ages, such as Prelá Castello with its castle ruins from the 12th century. The churches, there are at least two in each town, mostly have a baroque facade, although these are mostly of much older origin. Life goes a little slower here. The locals are friendly and helpful, people like to stop for a chat, the occasional ape or scooter rattles past. The keys are in the doors and the shopkeeper addresses all his customers by their first names. The world is still okay here.

Benvenuti in Liguria!  

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