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.
Imperia consists of two districts, which were for centuries independent cities. The first one Porto Maurizio was characterized by the rural culture, trade, and the nobility, the other one Oneglia by the industry and the harbor. The old town of Porto Maurizio, Parasio has an almost perfectly preserved medieval structure, lots of houses with labyrinth-like lanes, stairs and underpasses. Everything is wildly romantic, very authentic and thankfully not yet "restored to dead". Porto Maurizio has also got a nice little harbor and beautiful sandy beaches.
Oneglia however, passes slowly from its industrial past and is becoming a trendy, chic city. The factories are closing, in the harbor you will find a growing number of very good restaurants and bars. Beside the fishing trawlers where you can still buy fresh fish one can see 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. Twice a week on wednesday and saturday there is a large market in Oneglia. Here you will find everything from tablecloths, flowers and handbags to prosciutto.
Going from Diano Marina direction Oneglia (take the coast road which has never been completed) you will find very clean pebble beaches, mostly empty.
The outskirts of Imperia shows a contrast to the lively activity
on the coast. You will find here untouched nature, olive groves as
far as the eye reaches and many small villages. In the 50 ies a big
migration from the outskirts has begun and thus many places have
almost been left. Therefore, however, the area remained its
structure and was not affected by the building mania of later years.
Meanwhile many tourists from the north have discovered these places
and also young Italians return in the houses of their forefathers.
The village houses, streets and churches look like in a fairytale. Many of them date from the Middle Age as Prelá Castello with the ruins of the 12th Century. The churches in every village, there are at least two, usually have got a baroque façade, although these are usually much older. Life runs here a little bit slowlier. The inhabitants are friendly and helpful, one stops with pleasure to talk a little bit. From time to time an Ape or a Scooter rumbles past. The keys are in the doors and the shop owners call all of their customers by their first names. The world is here still in order.