Tag Archives: Italy
- Published:January 24, 2014 11:17 am
There are few better peninsulas to choose for a road trip in Europe than the one that makes up Italy. From the northern, Alpine regions to the far South and Sicily, Italy has so much to offer. However, one of the undiscovered gems – certainly so far as many British holiday makers goes – is the Italian Riviera which lies chiefly along the Ligurian coast. It is easy to navigate your way around the Riviera. You simply have to follow shoreline.
Many start in the south and head northwards from La Spezia, but it is a good idea to the journey in reverse, commencing in France. From the UK it is quite easy to book a cheap flight to Nice and from there rent a car from one of the hire operators at the airport, like National Car Rental. From Nice pick up the E80 westbound in the direction of Monaco and the Italian border. Crossing into Italy takes little more than half an hour from Nice along some stunning roads. Once you are over the border head on to San Remo, the first town on the coast that has a true Italian flavour. San Remo has plenty of accommodation in the town and it is well worth stopping overnight to enjoy its delights. There is a great beach, but San Remo is best known for its nightlife and music scene. There is a well-respected annual jazz festival held in the town and a good theatre that has regular operatic productions.
From San Remo, drive on to the seaport of Savona. This should take you under two hours on a good run. There are some great tourist sights in this ancient place and the Palazzo Delle Palle should not be missed. You can also seek out the former home of Christopher Columbus in Savona. In terms of cuisine, Savona offers typically Ligurian dishes. One of the most famous of these is the region’s pesto sauce. It is thick and green and usually served on top of freshly prepared pasta. In this western side of Liguria, the red wine producing region of Dolceacqua is predominant. Try a glass or two Sangiovese – it is what the locals tend to order to accompany a bowlful of home-cooked pasta.
If you continue to drive east along the coast you will soon come to Genoa. Given that this University city is such as wonderful place to visit in its own right, it doesn’t really fit in with a road trip. Unless you choose to spend a few hours exploring its huge aquarium or the Pallazzi dei Rolli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you are better off pushing on to Rapallo. Smaller than its more famous neighbour, Rapallo has some great eateries, including the Lord Byron restaurant. In this area you can easily find holiday villas for hire and you may want to spend a few days based here before heading on. That way you can enjoy the daily farmers’ market before a day trip to the beach or a local vineyard.
As a final destination, progress to Levanto – just to the north of the so-called cinqueterra, or five lands. These famous fishing villages sprawl along the Riviera and some can be accessed by boat only. Leave the car behind for a day and enjoy exploring them before heading back the way you came.