Driving along the Italian Riviera for the very first time

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In order to fully explore the beautiful coastlines, picturesque Italian villages and the diverse culture of Liguria, you’re most likely going to need a car. The majority of Big Boot Italy is fairly easy to drive around and offers some truly spectacular stretches of road alongside oceans and mountains; there’s not many other countries that can compete with the Italian driving experience! So to give you just a taste of what you can expect from driving around in Liguria, here are our favourite places to visit by car.

Start your journey in the province of Imperia, namely in Bordighera where you can view the French coastline from the sandy shore. Be sure to sample the extra virgin olive oil with a large chunk of focaccia, – the oil is delicious! Head along the beautiful SS1 Aurelia to Sanremo to discover Italy’s own Monte’ Carlo with its impressive casino and regular aristocratic visitors. If you are lucky enough to visit during February, make sure you witness some of the Sanremo Music Festival!

Drive along the picturesque coastline until you reach the next province of Savona to explore the stunning collection of churches, fortresses and museums it houses. Immerse yourself in the history of this beautiful town and have a look at the art of ceramic in Albissola. Head to Varigotti in Finale Ligure for stunning beaches or dine in an authentic Italian restaurant such as “Osteria ai Cuattru Canti”.

Drive a little further along the Italian Riviera until you come to Genova, la Superba, or “The Proud One”. The town gets its name from its impressive trading past and collection of landmarks, neither of which are not to be missed. This is truly the best place to come to experience “Classic” Italy and is often overshadowed by the likes of Venice and Milan. Explore the winding alleyways that lead you to gems such as hidden palaces and an abundance of quaint coffee shops and boutiques as well as a highly recommended visit to both the St Lawrence Cathedral and Doge’s Palace. Immerse yourself in the history of this one time home to Christopher Columbus and discover the trades the town was once well known for. Have a look at the great Acquario di Genova, one of the biggest in Europe.

Get back in the car and head along the E80 towards La Spezia where your tour of the Italian Riviera will culminate. Visit the beautiful villages set on the coast close to Portofino, such as Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure and Rapallo and have some rest in Sestri Levante. A trip to the beautiful fishing village of Tellaro will take your breath away. Set on a cliff top, enjoy a glass of local wine as the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea. If you happen to be there on the first Sunday in August, you can watch the annual Palio del golfo, a boating duel between the 13 villages that overlook the Gulf of Poets. In a few miles you can visit Cinque Terre and Porto Venere, both Unesco World Heritage marvellous places.
And thus completes your road trip along the Italian Riviera. I hope my visual tour has inspired you to hire a car and try it for yourself! Remember along your route to take advantage of the unrivalled shopping opportunities, with personal favourites being the Olive Oil from Imperia and the fresh pasta and pesto in Genoa, you won’t find anything like them back home!

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