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Italian Riviera

Italian Riviera

Also known as the Riviera of the Setting Sun, the Italian Riviera is simply irresistible. Vertigo inducing cliffs offering the most spectacular views. Cities that look like Pucci dresses. Cuisine that really depicts the meaning of "la dolce vita". History soaked streets. Velvety wines. Every inch of this small region has a distinctive character of its own.

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Perhaps the best way to describe it simply is to say that Liguria is the Amalfi coast's Italian cousin. Stretching from Genoa to Cinque Terre and on to Piza, this crescent-shaped peninsula is one of the chicest regions on Earth, and will mesmerize you with its aristocratic, yet very laid-back atmosphere.

The plentiful anchorages and gorgeous, unique beaches where marine blues clash with pastel tones, and restaurants that serve their daily catch of fish will certainly make it hard for you to leave.

Genoa

You're likely to start your sailing adventure in the gorgeous, but often wildly underappreciated capital of the region. Once a powerful maritime republic like Venice, this spectacular city is the birthplace of Christofer Columbus.

The 6th largest town in Italy offers remarkable beauty like many other famous Italian cities, but unlike many that have been ruined by overwhelming tourism, Genoa has kept a strikingly authentic charm. Think of the museums of Florence - but without crowds. The best of gothic, renaissance, and medieval architecture, wrapped in one, but without people trying to take photos with selfie sticks.

Gaze at masterpieces at Palazzo Bianco, Palazzo Tursi, and Palazzo Rosso - all situated in the same street, they hide jewels of virtuosos such as Caravaggio, Van Dyck, and Durer. With over 100 renaissance palaces, 42 of which are UNESCO-protected heritage sites, situated in the streets of Genoa, there's quite a lot to see on land.

Every experience in this city is a cultural one - even visiting the local pharmacy or bookshop, since they might easily be established in the 17th century. Buy some novels to read on deck at the same place Stendhal used to shop - Libreria Bozzi was founded in 1810. Try candied fruits and sweets at Pietro Romanengo fu Stefano, founded in 1780.

Italian food, but with a characteristic Genoan twist, can be enjoyed at Ristorante Zeffrino. Even Frank Sinatra fell for their fragrant Pesto Genovese!

Portofino

Hop on your tender to visit the Christ of the Abyss, in front of the Abbaye San Fruttoso. The surreal view of the submerged bronze statue, placed in 1954 to symbolize God's protection of fishermen and scuba divers, is bound to leave you breathless.

As you approach the shores of the Bella Vita, you'll see a myriad of charming pastel hues clashing against each other, providing a busy palette backdrop to the simple azure of the sea.

Full of contradictions, Portofino is where modest fishing boat moor right next to megayachts, and historic cobbled streets lead you to boutiques offering the latest luxury trends. The verdant hills and lingering smell of sea salt give the city its signature scent that has been the endless source of many top perfumers.

The charming port has been attracting visitors since the 19th century when nobility arrived by horse carriages to marvel at the beauty - it kept its elegance ever since. Dine at the harbor restaurant called Da Puny, praised for its pesto-soaked lasagna.

But Portofino is not just a city to immerse yourself in dolce far niente - while sipping on local Ormeasco in one of the elegant port restaurants is just amazing, the history of the city deserves equal attention. To explore the culture, visit the St. Martin church which dates to the 12th century, or the renaissance Church of St. George, perfectly contrasted by modern sculpture in the surrounding park.

Cinque Terre

A UNESCO world heritage site, the Coast of Five villages keeps the eyes busy as they try to process the colorful palette of contrasting houses - yellow, green, and Fuschia facades of the houses built into the skyscraper cliffs.

The beauty of the architectural gems is best captured from the sea, as you sip on some Aperol Spritz onboard. The Cinque Terre is a rugged coastline of five rainbow-like villages sprouting on the dramatic cliffs like stone flowers. And even though they're connected by footpaths, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore were still highly isolated through history - the unapproachability of vertigo-inducing cliffs resulted in each village developing a distinct culture and even dialect.

The beaches, many of which are only accessible by boat, maintain a more monochrome look. White cliffs mirror the bright sun and borrow reflection from the translucent sea. Canneto beach is a true hidden gem, where you can enjoy privacy and clear seas.

Palmaria

While the largest of three islands that comprise the archipelago is an excellent place to go for a swim, Palmaria seduces not only with an incomparable natural setting but also with mystery. The triangular-shaped island saw the most human presence - as early as 5000 years ago - on the side facing Portovenere and the Gulf of La Spezia. The other side is characterized by high cliffs dotted with numerous caves, one of the most notable of which is The Blue Cave, glittering like sapphire from volcanic stone.

Together with the neighboring islands Tino and Tonetto that are found further down south, Palmaria is a part of what is known as The Bay of Poets. The archipelago was frequented by Mary Shelly, whose good friend Lord Byron claimed he meditated and got ideas for his best pieces in a nearby cave located below the 13th-century Church of San Pietro - the cave is now named after the poet. He often swam across the gulf to see the Shellys. Unfortunately, Percy Shelly drowned here while writing a book ironically named "The Triumph of Life".

Sanremo

The vibrant fishing village turned upscale resort town offers as much entertainment as it does in historic terms. The port is covered with charming restaurants and bars that serve mount watering focaccia, sardenara, and Taggiasca olives. San Remo is famous both for its music festival and its art nouveau casino founded in 1905, where supposedly the five-card stud variant, telesina, was invented. Walking the streets of this palm-shaded town, you'll likely come across the 12th-century San Siro Cathedral famous for its twelve bell tower.

To explore some less famous attractions, head to Bussana Vecchia. One a ghost village, it has become a refugee for artists seeking a vibrant creative community in the past half-century. Amongst abandoned ruins, you'll find numerous art galleries - the silence of the abandoned, yet mesmerizingly beautiful houses have allowed the voice of the muses to speak louder to the numerous painters and sculptors that make up most of the inhabitants of one of Italy's most beautiful villages.