Sharing the regional name Liguria with the Ligurian Sea just south of this picturesque stretch of coastline, this area has also become known as the Italian Riviera. The two-hundred mile (315 km) coastal section between Ventimiglia, at the border with France, and the eastern end of the Golfo di La Spezia, is famous for its mild climate and picturesque landscape. English Romantic Poets, Byron and Shelley, were particularly fond of this charmed coastline.

Just southeast of Genoa, a string of charming communities clinging to the steep promontories that create their harbors: Camogli, Portofino, Santa Margherita and Rapallo. Like a family of beautiful sisters, each has a distinctive personality and history.

Camogli, once a maritime-fishing center, “the city of a thousand white sails”, retains a fishing village culture. The harbor and hillside are decorated with colorful waterside residences stacked in a “honeycomb pattern”. Each May the entire city of Camogli hosts a seafood festival, the Sagra del Pesce.

The secret of Portofino has been out for some time now. Once a charming, modest village, Portofino is now as famous for elegance as for its considerable natural beauty. Imagine a small harbor with a jewel box collection of international yachts and sailboats surrounded by traditional oar-powered boats; all set in an ecologically protected national park, Parco di Portofino (land and sea). 

Anchored in the center by the great port city of Genova (Genoa), Liguria arches gently south as it extends east and west. To the west of Genoa, an area known as the Riviera de Ponente, lay the coastal gems of Savona, Imperia, and San Remo, all accessible by a rail line that allows endless, coastal vistas and spontaneous, adventure stops. To the east of Genova, known as the Riviera di Levante, you move into Portofino, Santa Margherita, Rapallo, and the Cinque Terre.

Cinque Terre is particularly visit-worthy as the geography surrounding these 5 sequential, coastal villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) has protected them from overdevelopment. Today the sea area offshore and the Cinque Terre itself are protected as Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre (1999) and has been designated a World heritage Site by UNESCO.