Molise- Italy’s newest region and best kept secret

The Molise region in southern Italy borders Abruzzo to the north and Campania to the south and is one of Italy’s newest regions, being part Abruzzo-Molise until 1963. We decided to share our top tips for visiting this little-known region.

Coastal and compact…

Lying on the Adriatic coast, the Molise coastline although not the longest in Italy can definitely be described as one of the most unspoilt. Being one of the most sparsely populated regions in Italy and one of the least frequented by tourists, the beaches and coastline are a pleasant surprise to those who are new to the area.

Termoli's Old Town, photo by By Antonio Raspa

Termoli's Old Town, photo by By Antonio Raspa

Popular with many holidaying southern Italians, the town of Termoli is relatively unknown to foreign tourists. One of the most striking landmarks of the town is the castle dating back to the 13th century. The old town has distinctive narrow streets, pastel coloured houses and small squares, with the castle and its walls overlooking the beach and coastal areas. It’s possible to see the traditional trabucco along the Molise coastline- trabucco being the wooden structures which stretch out to sea with special nets attached which can be mechanically lifted to collect their catch.

Termoli's Trabucco, image by By Antonio Raspa

Termoli's Trabucco, image by By Antonio Raspa

Take a hike!   

For those who enjoy sampling the great outdoors Molise has beautiful mountain ranges, hills, forests and rivers which make it a popular spot for hiking and trekking. The pretty town of Agnone, 840 metres above sea level is a great destination for a day trip.

Bells at the Marinelli Pontifical Foundry Museum, photo by Marina Greco

Bells at the Marinelli Pontifical Foundry Museum, photo by Marina Greco

The Marinelli bell foundry in Agnone has been making bells for over 800 years- yes that’s right 800 years making it one of the oldest family run businesses in the world! The foundry is still fully operational and is prestigiously known as a ‘pontifical foundry’ providing bells for the Vatican as well as buildings across the world including the UN building in New York. The Marinelli Bell Foundry Museum lying adjacent to the foundry is an incredible step back in time, showing the artistry and artisanship involved in the centuries old tradition of bell-making.

San Pietro Avellana, image by Stef36

San Pietro Avellana, image by Stef36

If bells aren’t your thing then perhaps a chance to follow the ‘traturri’ or ancient pathways used by shepherds might be worth a try. The Matese mountain range are a popular destination for skiers but can also be a great location to visit out of season with impressive wildlife and nature trails. After a day’s trekking the numerous farmhouses and agriturismo spots along the way serve as perfect accommodation for the weary traveller.

Exploring Sepino, image by Fiore Silvestro Barbato

Exploring Sepino, image by Fiore Silvestro Barbato

For the history hungry amongst us the ancient ruins of Saepinum are a must-see. Saepinum is probably one of the lesser known ancient sites in Italy, it’s quite possible you can pay a visit to Saepinum and have the place to yourself! Captured by the Romans in 293BC, Saepinum was previously a Samnite town and barely registers on the tourist trail- making it a favourite amongst the Italian Special Occasions team.

Cuisine and culture without the queues…

The capital of the Molise region is Campobasso, and with excellent rail connections to Rome and Naples it’s a fantastic destination for a quick trip away from the hustle and bustle. Whether you hire a car or leave it to us to organise, a trip throughout the region is likely to be free from crowds and tour buses unlike some of the other well-known tourist hot-spots.

The region’s rich farming culture ensures that the food is tasty and hearty with influences from Puglia, Abruzzo and the Adriatic coastal territory. Much of the cuisine pays homage to the important shepherding history of the region with mutton and lamb featuring heavily in many recipes, and pecorino and caciocavallo cheeses being made from sheep’s milk. Hot peppers are a favourite ingredient, and vegetable dishes are also common with many cattle in the past being sold in markets in the neighbouring Abruzzo region.

Truffles of course feature in many dishes not to mention something to wash them down with- wine! The Pentro di Isernia is perhaps one of the most well-known wines of the area, but the region is not especially known for its wines, making it another fabulous reason to travel and sample these lesser-known local delights!

Caciocavallo in Molise, photo by Captain76

Caciocavallo in Molise, photo by Captain76

It’s important to us that we show you something different whilst respecting the territory and people living there. Let Italian Special Occasions share the secret of Molise and the other hidden gems of Italy.

Contact us for your free customised quote!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring in La Maremma

Respecting the environment, land, history and culture…

At Italian Special Occasions we value our partnerships with our suppliers, looking for a shared respect for the environment, art, culture and traditions. Now that spring has officially sprung we would like to introduce you to a few of our hidden gems and collaborators in La Maremma (southern Tuscany).

Tenuta Marsiliana Castle, Maremma Tuscany

Tenuta Marsiliana Castle, Maremma Tuscany

Tenuta Marsiliana

For our foodie fanatics out there let Italian Special Occasions organise a cooking class or wine tasting at the beautiful Tenuta Marsiliana. The estate is only 25 minutes inland from the stunning Mediterranean coast and is nestled within an ancient woodland which is home to a diverse range of wildlife. The estate is owned by the Principe Corsini family and is also home to impressive vineyards producing Marsiliana wine.

The Tenuta Marsiliana is an ideal setting for a wedding or reunion with your friends and family, with fantastic accommodation and a unique setting.

Italian Special Occasions spoke to Princess Giorgiana Corsini to ask about the history of the estate and divulge some of her foodie tips!

Would you be able to tell me a little bit about the history of the Tenuta Marsiliana?

The Corsinis settled in La Marsiliana in 1759. The estate is over 2,500 hectares with beautiful countryside and vineyards. We arrange guided tours of the castle, the cellars and we have a museum.
Wine cellar at Tenuta Marsiliana

Wine cellar at Tenuta Marsiliana

And the estate also produces wine is that correct?

Yes, 12 years ago we started to produce wine, previously there were no vineyards in that area of Tuscany. We realised that the climate and soil is very good for producing good wine. Now we have about 40 hectares of vineyards producing red and white wine.
The vines are the same vines used for in the Bordeaux region for making Bordeaux wine, so we produce Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines from the estate. We are very happy to show people our vineyards and host wine tastings.

It sounds like there is a lot to see…

We have a chapel, medieval tower and a museum which we opened in November 2013. We show a collection of all of the historical pieces from the estate. I have discovered them over the years and I became very curious about them, I decided to keep everything – each item has some significance or story about the estate. We have many saddles for horses and items from the farm, cheese-making equipment and kitchen tools. Each item is from the Marsiliana, some of the items had to be cleaned and many have been damaged because of how old they are but they are all authentic pieces.
I try very hard to make sure I keep things as they once were. I think it’s very important to share with people the work we do and the restoration work which we are carrying out.
Historic buildings at Tenuta Marsiliana

Historic buildings at Tenuta Marsiliana

You mentioned equipment for the kitchen and cheese-making, would you be able to tell us about your cooking classes?

I am restoring the stables and two of our halls and so I will soon begin cooking classes at La Marsiliana- it is something new to La Marsiliana which we have not done before. We will have new kitchens and I am really looking forward to this new project!

Do you have any favourite recipes?

I like intelligent but simple cooking- when I am hosting friends I want to be able to spend time in the sitting room with them as well as being able to cook. I am not keen on spending hours and hours in the kitchen. I like simple, practical and colourful cooking.
I have invented tricks which allow me to spend more time in the sitting room with my guests. My risotto is probably one of my favourites- I have a different approach, instead of turning, stirring and touching the risotto, I can leave it to cook by itself without it sticking. I use the same basic ingredients, but I pour the stock into the risotto in one go, instead of pouring it little by little as you are often instructed to do- this allows me to spend more time with my friends! I don’t like to hide all of my secrets and I am very willing to share them!

You mentioned a chapel on the estate- is it possible to host weddings and other events?

We have a lovely chapel and two big spaces and some lovely outdoor areas which can be used for weddings or special events. It’s a really beautiful setting.

Princess Giorgiana, thank you very much for speaking with us. We look forward to joining you for a cooking class in the future!

 

Cycle and See!

With longer days approaching and winter on its way out, some of you might fancy spending some time in the great outdoors and La Maremma is the perfect place to do so. Imagine something different such as a trip on two wheels with your friends and family, taking in the breath-taking landscape with informative and innovative guides who will show you the real Tuscany.

We spoke to Luciano from Bicievento who provide a range of unique bicycle tours throughout La Maremma territory…

Cycling in the Maremma woods with Bicievento

Cycling in the Maremma woods with Bicievento

Luciano, tell me a little bit about Bicievento and your philosophy

We are an association who organise day trips, weekend trips or vacations within La Maremma territory. We explore the territory of La Maremma on bicycle and also on foot.

What separates Bicievento from all of the other tour companies out there? What makes you different?

We take a different approach to the territory, we like to take the time to explain and offer some insight into the botanic, historical and geological side of territory- we like to share the history of La Maremma.
We try to work with the environment, minimising the environmental impact of travel and encouraging as many people as possible to cycle. We also work alongside other organisations which are environmentally friendly. We take more of a cultural approach, explaining what we show, how things are made, the background of the communities and sites we visit.
We organise trips for a range of different levels and abilities, for example trips for people who maybe do not cycle regularly. We also incorporate travel on trains so people can see the territory in a different way instead of being stuck inside a tour bus. We also make suggestions for what people can see or do when they have finished our tours, we put people in contact with other likeminded associations such as the slow-food movement. We might recommend somewhere you can drink a nice aperitivo and learn how the wines are made and where they come from.
We try to promote local cultural events and traditional festivals, and encourage links between local organisations so that our groups can experience a more human side of visiting a territory, less commercialised. We like the idea that a vacation should be more of a unique and personal experience.

Do you have a favourite tour that you like to take people on?

We have a range of tours, a few days or one day or half a day. One of our most popular trips is our one day tour around Orbetello Lagoon.
Part of the tour is over a very flat area of the lagoon, we explain the different vegetation of the lagoon and the marine side, then onto the ancient Roman city of Cosa which is a very beautiful ruin which is relatively unknown as it’s difficult to reach via bus.
You can choose to cycle all the way or walk part of the way, once we reach the site there’s a beautiful view of the Argentario skyline and mountains. 

Luciano thank you for speaking to us- happy cycling!

 

La Scapigliata

Tucked away on the outskirts of the small village of Fonteblanda lies La Scapigliata, a unique farm and cultural centre. We spoke to Guido who owns La Scapigliata with his wife Aurelia…

Guido it seems like you offer a selection of different things at La Scapigliata, would you be able to tell us a little more about what you do and when you opened La Scapigliata?

We began in 2005- with 46 hectares land, the land was almost abandoned. We introduced organic vegetables and agriculture. We began producing ice cream and we are now developing more agricultural projects.
We have a restaurant where we use our own produce and ingredients which are grown or farmed here at La Scapigliata, we have a shop where we sell our produce such as goats cheese, and products from our special breed of black pigs (they are from the UK and we have crossed them with some local Italian pigs!), and we also produce our own olive oil. It’s great for the kids to see the animals and the farm.
We also have two renovated stables. One stable shows an exhibition on Etruscan jewellery and the other is a space for live music.

Guido tell me a little more about the stables and the events that take place there…

Between the years 1985 – 2000 two jewellers from Grosetto tried to learn and master old techniques for jewellery production. They reproduced between thirty-five to forty copies of the most well-known and important Etruscan pieces which are exhibited in national museums around the world such as the British Museum and Metropolitan Museum. When the jewellers completed their project they exhibited the pieces at the Museum of Art and Archaeology nearby in Grosseto for a few months, but then afterwards they put the pieces away in a shoebox and that was it, they were left for 15 years! We found out about these pieces and we proposed an exhibition of the pieces at La Scapigliata and they agreed! We have a virtual library and also a projector showing holograms of the pieces we exhibit. Some of the metal-work is so delicate and detailed that it’s difficult to see with the naked eye. Using the hologram projector it’s possible to see the incredible work that goes into creating these beautiful pieces.
The other barn we have transformed into a space for Jazz concerts and live music. Recently we had a series of four concerts where we suggested to the musicians that they could improvise and create some pieces based on the nature and birdsong of the local area. It really was something special- we will try to produce an LP or CD with all of the contributions from the different groups at the end of our season in June.
Etruscan Exhibition at La Scapigliata in Maremma

Etruscan Exhibition at La Scapigliata in Maremma

It seems you place a lot of focus on local and seasonal produce, why is this important?

Well we certainly look to products or produce which is native to the environment.  Whether something is local is maybe less important.
We try to find something typical or reinvent something typical. The fact that something is locally produced doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. We try to find something typical and introduce something from another territory using local ingredients. We try to take good ideas from elsewhere, and transform or adapt things using local ingredients or materials.
In terms of the food we produce, seasonality is very easy for us. We always have something different to offer, even within the same season the offerings are often different. Everything comes from our own garden, and so seasonality is important. The vegetables and fruit may change every two weeks which means the dishes and food we serve are often different.

What are your plans for the future?

We are starting production of Aleatico wine which used to be the typical wine of the area, but nobody is producing it in this region anymore. This wine originated from the Island of Elba but became a popular wine in La Maremma but became less so over the years. 
One of our main projects for the future is that we are going to have a type of agricultural theme park or experience.  Visitors can learn about the range of production and agricultural techniques from the area and the Mediterranean region.
It sounds like you have a lot of exciting plans for the future of La Scapigliata, we look forward to hearing all about it- thank you for speaking to Italian Special Occasions!
 

Let us show you the undiscovered…

We share a common passion with all of our suppliers. We think it’s vital we show you something different, unknown and special about the Italy we love. Our suppliers and collaborators are hand-picked, ensuring we share the same common passion for the land, environment, art and culture.

Contact Italian Special Occasions for your free customised quote!

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Easter in Italy: traditional events & cuisine off the beaten track

Visiting Italy during Easter is a truly entertaining and unforgettable occasion: folklore festivals and religious processions invade large towns and tiny villages from North to South. You will be surprised by the amount and variety of traditional events that go well beyond the famous and solemn Via Crucis that is typically broadcast live from Rome’s torch-lit historic center. So let’s explore some of these curious happenings together!

Beyond religion

The Pasquali in Bormio, Valtellina

The Pasquali in Bormio, Valtellina

Let’s depart from the picturesque Valtellina valley in Lombardy, where the town of Bormio celebrates a tradition that is unique in the Alps: the Pasquali. The event mixes ancient pagan rites of the local Alpine pastoral culture with religious Christian concepts. The Pasquali is a joyous competition among the town’s five contrade (neighborhoods). The locals put their fantasy, flair and artisanal skills to the test by creating religion-inspired compositions that are carried on religious floats, paraded over the participants’ shoulders through the crowds.

The egg is one of Easter’s protagonists. Moving towards the center of Italy, we must stop in the small town of Tredozio near Forlì (Emilia Romagna), where the Egg Palio & Festival takes place! A traditional game is played where you must try to break the eggshell of your adversaries without breaking your own egg. You can also delight yourself by participating in the Giant Egg Fishing competition. Similar egg challenges take place elsewhere around Italy, such as Urbania (Marche) and Cividale del Friuli (Friuli Venezia Giulia).

Easter celebrations during the Angel Run, Ischia Island

Easter celebrations during the Angel Run, Ischia Island

On Ischia Island (Gulf of Naples), religion and folklore mix in occasion of the Angel’s Run that dates back to the early 1600s. The representation reenacts the encounter between the Virgin Mary and her Risen Son, and features two more participants: the statues of St. John the Apostle and the Angel. During the event, the Angel “runs” three times between Jesus and Mary to announce the resurrection, while the bells toll and the crowds chant the Regina Coeli and throw colorful confetti.

When we reach the villages of Civita and Frascineto in Calabria, for a moment you will think that you have stepped outside of Italy. Here you will encounter the Vallje, popular dances and chants by the Arbresh (arbëreshë) people of Albanian descent, who have preserved their lifestyle, language and culture throughout time.

The colorful and mischevious devils of San Fratello - image by Pino Grasso

The colorful and mischevious devils of San Fratello - image by Pino Grasso

Sicily offers a ton of celebrations from which to choose! However, two of the most particular are undoubtedly the irreverent Festival of the Jews in San Fratello (Messina) and the Dance of the Devils in Prizzi (Palermo). The former involves countless local farmers and shepherds who dress up with a gaudy traditional costume that represents the devil. They play trumpets and make noise around town to celebrate the death of Jesus and to disturb the religious procession that instead commemorates it. Il Ballu di li diavuli (Dance of the Devils) is another unique blend of Christian and pagan beliefs, and features the characters of Death, dressed in yellow, and two red devils in ghoulish masks. They dance around death randomly snatching innocent onlookers and trying to avoid the statues of the Risen Christ and Mary, which free the imprisoned souls.

Foodie Delights

Egg with fine Italian chocolate and handmade decorations - image from lucianopignataro.it

Egg with fine Italian chocolate and handmade decorations - image from lucianopignataro.it

Delicious cuisine will accompany your Easter journey across Italy. Among the most popular and classic Easter dishes are the dove-shaped colomba cake and the rich pastiera napoletana. You also cannot miss the gourmet experience of tasting a made-in-Italy chocolate egg!

However, there are many more Easter specialties around Italy that are not very famous… but are just as delicious! Here are some examples:

  • In Trentino Alto Adige, the polpettine pasquali are meat balls with minced lamb, parsley, rosemary, shallot, pepper and salt; they are seared in olive oil with wine and broth; and then served with French fries.
  • If you prefer to avoid meat, the torta pasqualina cake in Liguria will delight you with its vegetables, eggs and parmesan filling.
  • Abruzzo offers the delicious fiadoni, a sweet calzone-style pie that is baked in the oven and filled with sheep cheese.
  • This is a bit unusual in Italy, where breakfast is typically sweet… but many towns in Lazio enjoy the corallina salami with cheese pizza for Easter breakfast!
  • The tiella pie is served in Apulia, typically prepared with rice, potatoes, seasonal vegetables and mussels.
  • In Calabria, the Cuzzupa sweet loaf varies in shape (it could be an Easter-themed shape, a heart, a fish… anything!) and includes a hard-boiled egg in the middle for good luck!

 

Are you planning a Family & Friend Reunion in Italy? Let the team at Italian Special Occasions inspire and help you! Contact us now for a customized quotation

 

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Along Hollywood’s tracks... in Tuscany

A movie treasure hunt?

Tuscany, oh Tuscany… so full of charm, history and mesmerizing landscapes! Unsurprisingly, many directors have decided to use this picture-perfect backdrop for their movies since the early days of cinematography.

Movie poster for Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Movie poster for Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

If you are a film fanatic who loves traveling and good food, Tuscany is the place to go for unforgettable movie itineraries that combine cultural visits with foodie delights.

At Italian Special Occasions, we love creating family and friend reunions that involve a good fun challenge… and if you are planning a special get-together with your loved ones, we have an idea for you: a movie treasure hunt in Tuscany! Dare yourself and your group to identify the exact shooting locations while learning about local traditions and typical cuisine along the movie itinerary that comes to life as you follow the hints hidden around Tuscany.

Movie itineraries

If, for now, you’d rather test your memory or learn about Tuscan movie locations online, let’s embark on this journey together on this blog post!

What a view! [From the movie “A Room with a View” (1985)]

What a view! [From the movie “A Room with a View” (1985)]

Most movies have been shot in Tuscany’s capital, Florence. If you are traveling in this beautiful city and need to book a hotel, chances are that you would try your best to get a room with a view. A nice sight is exactly what British tourist Lucy Honeychurch (played by Helena Bonham-Carter) expects to find when she arrives in her hotel in the movie A Room with a View (1985). The disappointment is what launches the story (based on a 1908 novel by E. M. Forster), which depicts the contrast between Edwardian English stuffiness and the overwhelming beauty and sense of possibility of Florence. Filming locations include Piazza Santa Croce, Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio and Villa di Maiano.

But Florence is not only the setting of romantic movies: in Ridley Scott’s psychological thriller from 2001, serial killer Hannibal Lecter gives a lecture in the Sala dei Cinquecento (Palazzo Vecchio) and commits horrible crimes in Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Repubblica. The war drama and semi-autobiographical film Tea with Mussolini, directed by Franco Zeffirelli (1999), shows practically all of Florence’s greatest monuments, including Piazza del Duomo, the English Cemetery and Piazza Santissima Annunziata.

Movie locations of "La Vita è Bella" (1997) in Arezzo. From visitarezzo.com

Movie locations of "La Vita è Bella" (1997) in Arezzo. From visitarezzo.com

The town of Arezzo is the setting for Roberto Benigni’s Oscar-winning masterpiece, La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful, 1997). The beauty of the city is evident in the romantic-comical scenes where Benigni’s character tries to conquer the schoolteacher that he then marries; but also in the dramatic scenes when anti-Semitism takes over the town. You’ll spot locations like the Cathedral, the Logge Vasari, the Petrarca Theater, Piazza Grande and Via Garibaldi.

Nicole Kidman’s character in the period movie The Portrait of a Lady (1996) is mirrored in the Luccan villa where she lives. The beautiful house with typical Baroque gardens is full of mysteries inside, just like the protagonist plays the part of a perfect wife but hides her desperate soul. The movie was filmed outside of Lucca.

Moving from the larger jewels to the smaller gems, we reach Cortona. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) tells the story of American writer Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) who visits the Italian region, buys the abandoned Villa Bramasole in Cortona and transforms her life in the new social and natural context. The English Patient (1996) features the Monastery of Sant’Anna in Camprena (Pienza) and Montepulciano, among others in Tuscany. Montalcino is the setting for the Shakesperean classic Midsummer’s Night Dream (1999), while one of the latest teenage blockbusters – New Moon (2009) of the Twilight saga – was partly filmed in Montepulciano.

Val d'Orcia, Siena, appears in The Gladiator (2000)

Val d'Orcia, Siena, appears in The Gladiator (2000)

If you have watched Ridley Scott’s The Gladiator (2000), you surely remember the scenes where Maximums rides back home from war, and where he dreams of paradise at the end. Both scenes are filmed in the Tuscan countryside around Siena. More precisely, the wheat fields representing paradise are located in the famous Val d’Orcia.

What is your favorite movie in a Tuscan setting? Feel free to share more movies that were not covered by this blog post in the comments below!

Are you looking for ideas to organize the perfect reunion for family and friends in Italy? Contact Italian Special Occasions now for creative experiences and customized itineraries

 

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48 Hours in Genoa

Vicolo del Fieno, one of Genoa's caruggi - Image by Yoggysot Alessio Sbarbaro

Vicolo del Fieno, one of Genoa's caruggi - Image by Yoggysot Alessio Sbarbaro

Nicknamed ‘La Superba’ Genoa is the capital of Liguria, lying on the Mediterranean coast of north-west Italy. Genoa’s proximity to Milan and Turin, forming part of the ‘Industrial Triangle’ of northern Italy, means it is a perfect get-away location for those travelling on business in Milan or Turin. With excellent transport links and frequent flights in and out of the city, Genoa is the perfect location for some winter sun or a short break.

 

Day 1- A whistle-stop tour…

For those of us who are subjected to cold, dark and wet winters, Genoa is the ideal destination for a mini break. On arrival a stroll around the old town, the winding streets and medieval alleyways known as caruggi will help to ease you into your surroundings.

Don’t forget to look UP! Yes that’s right, when you get the chance take in the impressive medieval and baroque buildings and piazzas dotted around the city. The light in Italy’s 6th largest city has attracted many artists over the years including Carravagio and Van Dyck.

The famous avenue Via Garibaldi is a UNESCO World Heritage site - why not do as the locals do and take your passeggiata making your way down into the Palazzo Bianco Gallery on Via Garibaldi. This collection of the crème de la crème of 16th, 17th and 18th century art will whet the appetite of the art lovers amongst you.

The lovely Via Garibaldi - image by Andrzej Otrębski

The lovely Via Garibaldi - image by Andrzej Otrębski

If you’d rather skip the fine art, preferring something more adventurous, we recommend you try the Galata Museo del Mare where you can learn all about Genoa’s maritime history and the life of Genoa’s most famous son - Christopher Columbus.

The Galata Museo del Mare - Image by Jensens

The Galata Museo del Mare - Image by Jensens

No doubt after a few hours sampling Genoa’s galleries, museums and impressive architecture you may be in need of a bite to eat. Walk down towards the port and head to Via Sottoripa - we recommend you take advantage of Genoa’s prime location on the Mediterranean coast and pop into one of the local friggitoria. Nestled under the arches these stalls sell the traditional Genovese speciality of fried seafood caught fresh that morning. Wrapped up in paper and served warm, squeeze some lemon juice on your whitebait and you’re ready to go…this is fast food Genoa-style!

A walk along the waterfront is a must and you will no doubt see world-famous architect Renzo Piano’s ‘Bigo’ landmark sitting proudly on the port. The crane-like structure contains a lift or elevator, and a ride to the top reveals 360 degree views of Genoa and the port. An aperitivo at sunset followed by an evening meal in one of the many restaurants in the lively Piazza delle Erbe would be the perfect end to your first day in the city known as La Superba.

Grande Bigo, designed by Renzo Piano - image by Christine Zenino

Grande Bigo, designed by Renzo Piano - image by Christine Zenino

Day 2- Ready, Set, Go!

For foodie fanatics a trip to Genoa’s famous Mercato Orientale is unmissable. The market is over 100 years old and offers the best in seasonal local produce- it’s a real feast for the senses!

If you’re in need of a break from the gastronomic greats of Genoa then check out the impressive Villetta di Negro gardens. This park is a haven within the heart of the city, dating back to 1785. Tucked away within the former botanical school, this little known oasis contains a waterfall, pretty grottoes, and also houses the Chiossones Museum of Oriental Art. The fresh air and panoramic views of the city might provide a welcome breather from the hustle and bustle of downtown Genoa.

Mercato Orientale - image by Daderot

Mercato Orientale - image by Daderot

Lunchtime might include a trip to one of the focacciaria dotted along the many street corners. Focaccia is said to originate from this city, and we suggest you try some fresh focaccia stuffed with mushrooms, olives and tomatoes served hot. Perhaps you’d like to try the traditional farinata –a type of pancake made from chickpea flour, delicious!

Farinata e Foccacia - image by Girlie and Mr. Pants

Farinata e Foccacia - image by Girlie and Mr. Pants

If you’re feeling contemplative then why not step back in time and visit the Duomo di San Lorenzo which dates back to the 12th century. The distinctive black slate and white marble striped cathedral has an impressive array of frescos and sculptures. The Indiana Jones in you may be aware that below the cathedral there is a museum housing the chalice supposedly used by Christ at the Last Supper.

San Lorenzo Cathedral - image by Alessio Sbarbaro (Yoggysot)

San Lorenzo Cathedral - image by Alessio Sbarbaro (Yoggysot)

On your final night in Genoa taste the city’s most famous sauce - PESTO! If you haven’t managed to eat a pasta dish served with pesto during your trip then take a short walk to Boccadasse, a former fishing village now a neighbourhood which is only a short walk along the port. The restaurants in this district are the best place to sample some pasta al pesto –it is said Frank Sinatra favoured Ristorante Zeffirino

A glimpse of Boccadasse - image by Stefano Mazzone Genova

A glimpse of Boccadasse - image by Stefano Mazzone Genova

If you have a little longer…

If you are fortunate enough to have a few more days in Liguria then Italian Special Occasions can help you make the most of your time away.

  • Cinque Terre- Genoa is blessed with direct trains to the world famous coastal villages, nestled between the hills and the sea. These gems of the Italian Riviera are especially popular through the summer season when they become crowded and expensive. Let us help you avoid the crowds and summer expense with a relaxing spring excursion!
  • Want to know more about Genoa’s local produce, seasonality, and gastronomy? Let us organise a market tour of the Mercato Orientale followed by a cookery class. Get your hands dirty and make some farinata, or focaccia, the more adventurous of you might want to try making some pesto to take home!
  • How about a teambuilding exercise on the high seas? Sailing the ‘Gate of the Mediterranean’ like Christopher Columbus could be an unforgettable experience!
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